How to Prep Your HVAC System for Summer Vacation
The car is loaded up with suitcases, the kids are strapped in and you’re ready to embark on your summer vacation. You have all the ingredients for a great trip, but is your home’s HVAC system prepared to sit unattended while you’re gone? Check out this helpful HVAC checklist before you head out.
Turn the thermostat up about 10 degrees, but don’t turn it completely off. Humidity can build up in your home with no cool air or air circulation, leading to problems like mold and mildew. Keep your system running occasionally while you’re away to prevent these issues.
Install a programmable smart thermostat, if possible. This is ideal if you plan to take a longer vacation. With a programmable or smart thermostat, you can set it to start cooling your home to your desired temperature just before your arrival.
Install surge protectors for your HVAC system. If you live in a climate where summer storms are common, surge protectors can safeguard your system against dangerous lightning strikes that cause power surges that damage your electronics while you’re away.
Open all vents. Make sure all rooms of the house have open vents for good air circulation. You may also want to open all doors to keep air flowing through your home.
Check air filters and change if needed. Before going on vacation, check your HVAC system’s air filter. In the summer, dirt and debris can build up faster; you may find yourself needing to change the filter more often. A clogged air filter can cause problems you don’t want to come home to, including increased energy bills and frozen condenser coils.
Latch and lock all windows and doors, and check for cracks and leaks. While you want good airflow indoors, you don’t want hot outdoor air coming in. If you suspect a leak coming from a window seal or under a door, remedy the leak before leaving for your trip.
Close all curtains and blinds. Keeping blinds shut and curtains pulled can lower the indoor temperature of your home. If you have open windows with no covering, consider installing a light sheet while you’re gone.
Inspect the exterior AC unit. Check your exterior unit to make sure it’s clear of leaves, dirt and debris that may be restricting airflow. Examine the inside and outside of the unit and clean as needed.
Check the weather. Checking your local weather before leaving for vacation can help you better prepare your home. Whether the weather is hot and muggy or dry and mild, it’ll affect how you set your thermostat.
Make sure your HVAC system is clean and well-maintained. Do an overall checkup on your HVAC system to be sure it’s in good working order. Schedule an HVAC inspection to make sure your system is running efficiently.
Before you head out for summer vacation, call the heating and cooling professionals at Cox Heating and Air today to schedule your annual HVAC system inspection.
Surviving Summer in Florida: Ways to Beat the Heat
There’s no doubt about what season it is when summer arrives in Florida. You know it’s here when you encounter the mosquitoes, humidity and blistering heat. Although you may feel tempted to stay inside from June through August, there’s no need. Let Cox Heating & Air Conditioning show you some helpful ways of beating the heat.
Time Your Outings
The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so your risk of sunburn is greatest during these hours. However, that’s not actually the hottest time of day. Summer temperatures peak between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. Fortunately, this is also when afternoon thunderstorms show up, so you have a good excuse for packing up and heading inside until you can go back out to enjoy the rain-cooled air.
Finding the right clothing to wear can be tricky. It’s hot outside, but most houses and businesses have air conditioning, so it’s possible to go from 95 to 75 degrees in just a few steps. Try dressing in layers that you can remove and put on easily as the temperatures change. Look for breathable fabrics like cotton and linen, and opt for loose-fitting clothing that lets air circulate between the material and your skin.
Make Some Waves
As water dries on your skin, it helps draw heat away from your body, so take advantage of beaches, water parks and swimming pools to cool off and have some fun. Summer is a good time to try out watersports like kayaking, wakeboarding and tubing or to relax in a leisurely river or lake. Many cities also have splash fountains in public parks. Or, join the kids for a quick romp through your sprinkler.
When it’s hot, you sweat. When you sweat, you lose important fluids your body needs. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to stop for a drink of water. You should sip water throughout the day and consider sports drinks to replenish electrolytes if you’re exercising or doing heavy yardwork in the sun. This doesn’t just help you beat the heat; it may save your life.
Put Stay-cool Gadgets to Work
From personal fans with water misters to umbrella hats and cooling neck wraps, there are plenty of gadgets designed to cool you off. They do work, even if they look a little funny. You can also make your own cooling devices with items you have at home. Fill a spray bottle with water and peppermint tea as a cooling body mist. Put damp washcloths and hand towels in the freezer for wrapping your neck, arms and legs when you need a quick cool-down.
The key to enjoying your Florida summer is finding ways to stay cool, and one of the best ways to do that is with your air conditioner. Cox Heating & Air Conditioning can help. Contact us today to inspect, repair or replace the air conditioner in your home or office.
How to Keep Your AC Running Strong All Summer Long
The last thing you want to experience during the dog days of a searing Tampa summer is your AC going out. But the warmest months have arrived, and that means it’s prime time to ensure your AC system runs strong all season long. Here’s how to get started.
Get a Seasonal Inspection
If you didn’t schedule an HVAC inspection at the start of the warmer season, that’s a great first step. Or, if it’s been a few months since you last used your AC unit, it’s smart to get an inspection from a licensed professional, too. This ensures your AC unit is in working order and ready to handle the demands of the summer heat. After your unit earns a clean bill of health, you simply need to maintain it with cleaning and fresh filters throughout the summer.
Use Clean Air Filters
A clogged air filter can put unnecessary strain on your HVAC system and can lower your AC’s energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent. You also need to change your air filters more often during the summer months — you’ll be running the AC more often, so set a reminder to check your HVAC system’s filter at least once a month.
You may also want to switch air filter types or sizes in the summer. Fiberglass filters are the cheapest but have the lowest MERV ratings (which measure how effectively an air filter removes particles from the air), while high-efficiency filters are the most expensive and most efficient. If you don’t have allergies or need a pricey filter, the best overall choice for summer is a pleated filter. They’re inexpensive and can capture smaller particles for longer periods of time without affecting the airflow of your system.
Weatherizing your home for the summer can save money on cooling costs, ensure your HVAC system remains efficient and reduce energy consumption. You can weatherize effectively by:
- Adding caulking around windows and doors to keep cool air from escaping
- Replacing worn weather stripping under doors
- Hanging up window treatments
- Insulating electrical outlets
- Installing fans
Maintain Your Outdoor Unit
Many homeowners forget the essential part of the HVAC system: the outdoor unit. It pulls in outdoor air to cool and pump through your home. Outdoor condenser coils can become dirty or blocked, so keep the area around the coil clean and make sure foliage is trimmed back at least 2 feet from the intake to avoid blocking the airflow.
To complete a simple cleaning, power down the unit and:
- Remove the protective metal case
- Vacuum or brush off the condenser fins
- Wipe the fan with a damp cloth
- Spray the fins from inside out with a hose
- Reassemble the unit
The soaring Tampa temps can bring unpleasant conditions if your home isn’t prepped to beat summer’s heat. Schedule a seasonal inspection with the licensed professionals at Cox Heating and Air Conditioning to get your HVAC system in order for one cool summer.
Maintaining Your Home Air Quality Through the Hot Summer Months
The EPA reports that the average American spends about 90 percent of his or her time indoors. In addition, indoor air quality is among the top five environmental risks to health — it can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Summer heat and humidity can negatively impact indoor air quality, too. It sounds a bit frightening, but worry not. Here’s how to keep your home’s indoor air safe this summer as you beat Tampa’s heat in the cool A/C.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are airborne chemicals that can be hazardous to your health and the environment. They’re year-round concerns, but even more so in the summer when the heat disperses them widely. VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids/liquids, and levels can be up to 10 times higher indoors that outside — many household items emit VOCs. VOCs can also get into your living space through open windows or ventilation systems. In the summer, the main culprits are:
- Insect repellants
- Gas mower exhaust
The list of health impacts is long, from headaches to cancer. To reduce the impact of VOCs, you need a proper indoor air filtration system. Whole-house air filters clarify air through your home’s HVAC system. The type of air filter matters; look for a MERV rating (which indicates overall effectiveness at trapping particles) of 16 or higher to remove chemicals from the air.
The longer air remains in a home, the longer the pollutants also stay. The air exchange rate (ACH) is the number of times outdoor air replaces indoor air per hour. It can tell you how well your home is ventilated; the lower the ACH, the lower the indoor air quality typically is.
To improve your home’s ACH, improve ventilation. Simply opening a window won’t get you the ventilation needed, especially in summer; you’ll need a mechanical ventilation system that circulates fresh air using ducts and fans. Ventilation systems can improve air quality and your comfort. Balanced-type systems reduce the moisture content of incoming air, and supply-type systems both cool and dehumidify outdoor air before it enters your home.
In summer, the relative humidity in your home can rise. This creates condensation on air-conditioned surfaces and dampness in attics as warm air rises and cooler air sinks. High levels of relative humidity can cause health problems, discomfort and a less-hygienic atmosphere.
An indoor relative humidity level of 60 percent or more can also lead to problems like mildew and mold. Ideal indoor relative humidity levels should remain between 20 and 60 percent.
Using a dehumidifier will not only remove humidity, but it’ll also keep your home at a more comfortable temperature — particularly in the summer.
Are you ready for summer’s heat? The professionals at Cox Heating and Air Conditioning have the latest technology for indoor air filtration and can help ensure your Tampa-area home stays comfortable. Contact the HVAC experts at Cox today.