August 10th, 2017 Newsletter

Northwest Begins to Rely on AC

The northwest region of the United States has relied on air conditioning less than anywhere else in the country. However, that looks like it might be changing. So far, this summer, temperatures in the region have consistently stayed in the upper 90’s and low 100’s, making more residents of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho crave the comfort of air conditioning.

While other regions depended on air conditioning to grow, the Northwest didn’t. Summers were still livable without air conditioning. Compared to the rest of the country, the number of homes with air conditioning has been lower over most decades. A study done by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance in 2014 indicated, in rural Idaho, it is estimated that only 53% of homes have AC while in urban Idaho, 72% of homes have AC. Comparing that to new homes being built in the Midwest or Northeast, eighty-six percent of new single-family homes in the Northeast are built with AC, while 94% in the Midwest are built with AC.

These new homes are increasingly built to accommodate central air, and not much thought is given to using windows and cross breezes to keep homes cool. Before the 1940’s that was not the case. Then, only 33% of homes had central air, with 47% having room air, and 20% having no air conditioning.

Still far below in the number of households using central air or in-room air conditioning units, the Northwest has seen a pretty sharp uptick in that number. Whether it’s getting and staying hotter for longer, or people are getting less tolerant of the heat, the region is turning to air conditioning for comfort.

For those looking to add central air conditioning in their home, or upgrade to a newer system, talk to the team at Diamond Heating and Cooling. We want to make sure everyone in Boise and throughout the Treasure Valley is comfortable during these extreme temperatures.

 

Using Shade to Conserve Energy

While increasing curb appeal, landscaping can also have an impact on energy usage and expenses year-round. Properly placed trees, shrubs, and even vines can be beneficial for homeowners and their energy bills. Here’s how to go about using shade to conserve energy:

Trees

Large, deciduous trees should be planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of the house. While they might take a few years to grow enough to provide shade, they will live quite long, which is a bonus for those who don’t plan on moving anytime soon.

To help block the wind, dense evergreen trees are a great choice. They’ll also continue to provide shade during the fall and winter since they don’t lose their foliage.

No matter what type of trees are planted, you will want to keep them an adequate distance from the home. Once the trees mature, their roots systems and branches could damage the home or foundation if planted too close.

Shrubs

Keep walls and windows shaded with a row of shrubbery. Within a few years they should start providing good shade. They can also be used to shade the ground or pavement around the home. Be careful planting dense shrubs too close to the house. This limits the airflow, creating a warm, moist environment perfect for mold growth.

Vines

Add a lattice or trellis with climbing vines along the side of the house. While providing shade, it also allows for circulation of cool breezes.

These tactics provide shade in summer and insulation in the winter. This can help lower energy expenses by reducing the need to run the air conditioner or furnace.

Talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about other ways to reduce energy expenses like installing a newer, more energy efficient AC or furnace, regularly scheduled maintenance, changing out the air filter, and more.

 

DIY Back to School Teacher Gift

Make heading back to school a little easier on everyone with a gift for the teacher that’s not only cute, but useful. This mason jar organizer holds extra pens and pencils for when students needs a writing utensil.

Supplies:

  • Serving tray
  • Pint mason jars
  • Chalkboard paint formulated for glass
  • Multi-surface paint (any color)
  • Painting tape
  • Chalk
  • Paint brush
  • Pens
  • Pencils

Instructions:

  1. Put tape around the jars around the halfway mark. Clean the jars well with rubbing alcohol before painting.
  2. Paint the top half of the jar with the multi-surface paint. Do as many coats as necessary for desired color.
  3. Once dry, take the tape off. Re-tape over the already painted area to keep a clean line for the chalk paint. Add two coats of the chalkboard paint to the jars, allowing it to dry between coats. Remove the tape once it is dry.
  4. Write “Pens” on one jar and “Pencils” in the other before placing them in the tray. Add pens and unsharpened pencils before gifting it to the teacher.

For more detailed instructions and pictures, click here.

June 1st, 2017 Newsletter

How Air Conditioning Can Help Allergy and Asthma Sufferers

Today, it’s common knowledge that air inside the home can carry more allergens than outside air. This can cause those with allergies and asthma to suffer inside their own home. However, the air conditioner might be able to help reduce the allergy or asthma symptoms.

The Right AC

When choosing an air conditioner, it is important to consider the family’s specific allergies. Allergens come in varied sizes, making some easier to filter out of the air than others. If someone is allergic to a smaller allergen such as pet dander, a secondary filter might be necessary. For those allergic to even smaller allergens, a system with a HEPA filter would be the best choice.

Changing the Filter

Keeping the filter in the air conditioner clean is a simple and effective way to ensure it can filter out as many allergens as possible. During milder temperatures, it is recommended that the HVAC filters be changed once every three months. In more extreme temperatures, filters need to be changed every month due to the extra use.

Closing Windows

If the allergy or asthma sufferer in question is triggered by outside allergens such as pollen, keeping the doors and windows shut during the summer can help. It’s not always recommended to seal off the house because it limits fresh air, but in some cases, it can be beneficial.

If allergy and asthma sufferers are still having reactions, extra filtration might be necessary. Talk to Diamond Heating and Cooling about installing the Micro Power Guard, a polarized media air cleaner. It can collect very small particles and can be easily adapted to any system that has a spot for a one inch filter.

 

 

Keeping Critters Out of Your AC Unit

The AC switch has been flipped, but nothing happens. Is it old age? Faulty wiring? Broken parts? Nope. It’s pests. Mice and other pests are often attracted to the outside AC unit because it’s a comfortable, protective environment.

When mice and other critters burrow into an AC unit, they can do a lot of damage. Many components can get chewed up causing the system to stop working. The chewed wiring can even become a potential fire problem. Sometimes birds can also decide to nest in the unit and often get stuck in the fans.

The pest droppings or carcasses can affect indoor air quality by not only creating an unpleasant odor throughout the home, but also causing allergies to act up.

To prevent pests from taking over the outdoor AC unit and the problems associated with this, take these steps:

  1. Create a Barrier

Animals live in vegetation. If the unit is surrounded by bushes or trees, animals are more likely to investigate the AC unit. Keep a large area around the unit clear from any type of vegetation. Using a pet repellant can also help deter animals. Spray it on and around the unit to create an effective barrier.

  1. Maintenance

Annual maintenance on the outdoor AC unit can find and get rid of pests before they create a huge issue. If pests have already taken over and ruined some of the components, Diamond Heating and Cooling’s technicians can make the necessary repairs before the AC is turned on.

  1. Condenser Breaker

One of the reasons animals are attracted to the unit during winter is because it stays warm due to the condenser breaker and the cover over the unit. Turn off the condenser breaker so it does not stay warm. Also consider getting rid of the insulating cover if one was used previously.

Keep an eye on the outdoor unit and call Diamond Heating and Cooling if it seems something might have nested inside or to schedule annual maintenance.

 

Summer Salad Recipe

Cooking with the oven can heat up the house making the air conditioner work harder. Instead, try making this delicious grilled chicken cobb salad from Martha Stewart.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 medium head of romaine lettuce cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of your favorite vinaigrette
  • 1 ½ lbs. of grilled chicken cutlets thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces feta crumbled cheese
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in a medium skillet and drain. Alternatively, cook it in the microwave to create less heat in the home.
  2. In a large bowl, lay out all the ingredients on top of the lettuce, Season with salt and pepper. Toss with vinaigrette or use on the side.
  3. Enjoy!