Advice From the Pros

Indoor Air Quality

What Is Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor Air Quality

We all spend most of our days indoors. Otherwise, we would be outside suffering in the Summer heat and Winter cold. It’s a luxury that we take for granted. The fact that advances in air conditioning have allowed us to be comfortable 24 hours a day, is a marvel of human achievement. There is one drawback to that achievement: poor indoor air quality.

What is indoor air quality?

Indoor air quality refers to the quality of the air inside and around the buildings that we sleep, work and play in. While the HVAC systems that we use to push air through our homes and offices does condition the air to our liking, it could also be making us sick. When someone in our indoor environment is sick (coughing, sneezing, etc.), we depend on our HVAC systems to take the polluted air that contains those contaminants away. Sickness is not the only way your indoor space can become polluted, though. Other ways include improper ventilation of fumes and the materials used during the building’s construction.

What can poor indoor air quality do to our health?

While it may not be apparent right away, the effects of spending time in a polluted indoor environment can manifest itself into a wide array of sicknesses. Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue are commonly reported. Long term exposure effects include lung disease, cancer and heart disease.

 

What can we do about poor indoor air quality?

Hiring an experienced HVAC contractor to diagnose the problem and provide solutions. That may include the installation of a device that attracts the pollutants in the air and neutralizes them, changing the air filters to a specialized filter, or redesigning your HVAC system to use more fresh air instead of recycling the air in the building.

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Keeping Your Pets Cool During The Summer

Keeping Your Pets Cool In The Summer

Keeping Your Pets Cool In The Summer

When the temperatures climb from the 70’s to the 90’s we have a problem staying cool. Now imagine that you have black fur and are currently stuck in a backyard without any trees for shade. It becomes almost unbearable as your black fur absorbs the sunlight and heat scorching downward. It is important to remember our fur family as the days get longer and hotter. We have compiled a list of tips to help you keep your pets cool during the summer months.

 

Shade

 

If your pet is an outside pet, you have to provide them with some form of shade. A covered porch or an awning is nice. A shade tree is even better. You can pop up a sunshade using PVC pipe and a few yards of shade cloth for your pet in the corner of the yard. A dog house is great, except that if it does not have proper air circulation, it becomes an oven instead. You create a dog pallet palace using old pallets as the sides and the roof. Because of the way pallets are built, they provide excellent air circulation.

 

Water

 

Animals need a source of water when they are outside. The summer months are no different, except that they need more water to keep themselves cooler. The water in a bowl will evaporate quicker, leaving your pup thirsty by mid-afternoon (the hottest part of the day). There are several ideas on how to keep the water fresh and cool for your pup. The first is to freeze the water in the bowl and then set it out for your animals to drink. This way as the sun melts the ice, your pup has a fresh cool drink all day. The second is to install a water feature in your yard that is specifically for your animals. Something with a fountain and shallow pool will allow your pets to drink and will aerate the pool to keep the mosquitoes from breeding in it. But my personal favorite is when people use their ingenuity and skills to create a solution to the problem. Check out these really amazing ways to keep your animals fed and watered over the summer.

 

No Haircuts

 

Contrary to popular belief, shaving an animal’s fur DOES NOT cool them down. An animal’s layers of fur help to protect them. They help block out the heat and harmful rays of the sun. Instead of shaving all of their fur off; simply brush them. Removing a little bit of excess fur, not to mention the dirt and debris that accumulates on outside animals, can help the animals to regulate their temperature better, With a mix of the shade, cool water, and layers of fur, your animal should have no problems staying happy in the backyard when the weather hits 90 degrees.

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Keeping Summer Cooling Costs Down

Keeping Summer Cooling Costs Down

Keeping Summer Cooling Costs Down

Texas gets hot, I mean really hot, during the Summer. Often times our HVAC unit has to work around the clock just to keep up with the intensity of the Summer sun. As the temperatures climb, your electric bill tends to do the same. Here are some ways that you can keep your cooling bill down while the temperature outside goes up.

 

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

 

Whether it is spray foam along the bottom of your home or weather stripping around the door, every little space and crack allows warm air to seep into your home. Make certain that there is insulation on the base of the windows and doors. Insulate your wall outlets with specially designed foam insulators (They keep the mice out too). Check the insulation in your attic and add more if needed. Years of sitting can compress the insulation, so you need to be certain that it stays fluffy to do its job. If you have the financial means to do so, invest in energy efficient windows and doors. Products with the Energy-Star label have passed a Performance test done by the National Fenestration Rating Council.

 

Shade it All

 

Shade your home both inside and out. Growing shade trees is one way to lower the temperature both outside and inside your home. The Department of Energy estimates that air temperatures under trees “can be as much as 25°F cooler than air temperatures above nearby blacktop.” Large shade trees take time to grow, so you can plant quick growing shrubs until your trees have reached the appropriate height. When shading the inside of your home, look for ways to not only block the light but also reflect it. Window Tints come in DIY packaging and are a fairly inexpensive way to cool your home. The tint reflects the light back off of the door or window, thereby reducing the amount of light and heat that make it into the house. Blackout shades also lower the amount of light and heat that enter a room, thereby dropping the temperature variance. Attaching shades to the outsides of your windows, especially the large bay windows, is also a great way to lower the temperature in your home.

 

Bar-B-Que

 

It’s the Summertime! The best (and tastiest) way to lower the temperatures in your home is to cook outside. If you are not having to heat up the kitchen with all of the appliances, then your HVAC unit does not have to work as hard to bring the temperature back down again. Give your stove, microwave, and oven a break this Summer. Go outside. Cook over the grill or an open fire. Enjoy being with your family and friends, and give your AC a break. If you turn the lights off in the house and only sit on the patio, you’ll be saving electricity there too. Saving money, sharing memories, and eating good food. THAT is what Summer is all about.

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