Does A Water Softener Really Make Sense?

Have you been considering adding a water softener to your home, but are wondering if the payoff is worth the investment?

It’s a good question.

Let’s look at some of the ways in which you get your money’s worth by getting a water softener.

Time Savings

Are you one of those people who loves spending hours scrubbing the tub to get rid of the soap scum? If you are, then you’ll probably be okay keeping your hard water flowing.

However, if you would rather not have to scrub your tub, or spend time hand washing dishes before you wash them in the dishwasher, then you might want to keep reading.

Soft water lets you finish cleaning faster! That’s because the water glides right off whatever it is you’re cleaning.

Unlike hard water, that leaves mineral deposits everywhere, the soft water is mineral free and leaves no water stains for you to clean up (no more embarrassing, dirty looking dishes in front of guests).

You’ll also be able to take shorter showers since shampoo and soap will lather better in soft water and rinse off cleaner. Of course, you may want to just stand there and enjoy the soft, flowing waterfall instead.

Financial Savings

One of the big things you’ll be getting back when you install a water softener is money. The direct gain, dollar for dollar, is tremendous!

Here are just some of the ways you’ll save money when you have a water softener:

  • You’ll buy less shampoo, soap, and detergent
  • You won’t need to buy fabric softener for the washer and dryer
  • Your appliances will last longer because they won’t be building up scale
  • You’ll enjoy lower energy bills when your appliances are working better and free of sludge

Peace-of-Mind Savings

It’s always nice to know that your family is safe. While hard water is not dangerous to your family, it certainly can do a number on appliances.

Think of your hot water heater, which heats gallons of water daily. If that’s not working well, then you could be looking at costly repairs and a big drop in energy efficiency.

You’ll sleep better with a water softener when you know that:

  • Sludge won’t be passing through your pipes any longer, and the soft water that is will soften and loosen that old sludge, making it a non-issue.
  • You’ll always have free-flowing water that doesn’t get stuck in your water tank. Such an issue could lead to flooding and worse.

Soft Water Is Better

If you’ve been debating getting a water softener, debate no more! You’ll be doing a favor for yourself, your family, and your wallet when you have a water softener professionally installed.

Clearly, there’s an amazing financial benefit. Over time, with all the savings, it’s like you’re getting it for free!

Contact the professionals at Forrest Anderson with your questions or to learn about the various types of water softeners available.

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8 Ways People Beat the Heat (Before A/C)

Let’s all take a moment and share a debt of gratitude to Willis Carrier. Willis invented modern air conditioning, and we can thank him for being able to live (relatively) comfortably in 110ºF+ temperatures.

Before Carrier received his first patent in 1914, and before air conditioning became commonplace in the ‘50s, people still had to live in extremely hot temperatures—and try to stay cool and alive. So how did they accomplish that?

Here are just eight ways people beat the heat before A/C.

  1. Cave Dwelling

The Native American communities who lived in the Sonoran Desert prior to Europeans settling in flourished even with the hot sun beating down. How did they do it?

Well, the Apache, Hopi, Maricopa, Mojave, Navajo, Southern Paiute, and Tohono O’odham tribes all understood the importance of living in caves. Homes built underground are naturally cooler given their surrounding temperatures.

When caves were not an option they built thick, adobe homes against the sides of mountains and below ground. The dwellings were built on the south side of mountains avoiding the hottest rays from the sun.

You can still see examples of these types of dwellings across Arizona such as Montezuma’s Castle.

  1. Window Airflow

Europeans and Americans from the East Coast settled in the desert decades before there was A/C. Those early settlers had to find a way to get through the super-hot summers, and a bit of Victorian ingenuity helped.

Victorian homes were specifically built with airflow in mind. Tall, symmetrical windows were placed in strategic locations to allow airflow to enter the home. This approach has been used for hundreds of years around the world.

An incredible example of this heat-beating architecture is the Rosson House, located in Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix.

  1. Covered Porches

At both the Victorian Rosson House and at plantations and homes across the South, long, covered porches provided some shade and protection from the blistering sun.

When the porches were of the wraparound variety, they did more than provide a cooler place to sit. They also shaded windows making for a much cooler living space.

  1. High Ceilings

Even today you’ll find homes and retail locations with high ceilings and large fans. The combination of height and fans pull the warm air up and away from people below.

  1. Fans

You might immediately think of ceiling fans or stationary fans placed strategically around the home, and those were certainly used before A/C became the go-to cooling option. However, fans have been used to keep people cool even before homes were wired for electricity.

Manual fans (yes, those worked by human hands) have been used to move air around for centuries. In Egypt, it was the slaves, using palm leaves, and in Asia, intricately designed fans were used for more than just helping Geisha girls look demure.

Today, we continue to use not only electrical but also handheld fans on hot days to keep us cool.

  1. Evaporation Methods

Cool water makes for cool people, and since ancient times, we humans have realized this. From modern-day swamp coolers to the Egyptian approach of hanging wet sheets in doorways so that the wind would pass through and cool the room.

During the mining days of the Wild West, settlers would go to bed under wet blankets to stay cool. It may sound like a good way to get sick, but it worked well for them.

  1. Ice and Snow

People used to plan well for the warmer months by collecting and storing ice in the winters or collect snow during the summer from nearby tall mountains. The frozen water would be used to cool foods and beverages as well as for evaporation cooling of residences.

Not only did this plan require forethought, it also could be quite expensive. Before refrigeration, ice had to be stored in icehouses and there could be problems if the winter didn’t produce sufficient snow and ice.

  1. Breathable Fabrics

These days, our clothes are all about fashion, but before central air people used clothes to stay cool. Linen, cotton, silk, and wool are all natural, breathable fabrics.

Linen, for example, was a staple of Marie Antoinette’s summer wardrobe because of how lightweight the fabric is.

Even today, we can take advantage of breathable fabrics for clothes and bedding. Polyester fabrics may wear well, but they don’t allow air to circulate and reach your body. They make you hotter, sweatier, and smellier in the heat.

Wrap-up

There was a lot people had to deal with up until fifty years ago. The invention of air conditioning has improved the life styles of people around the world. Keeping them comfortable and cool during the hot summers.

If you want to make sure you keep your air conditioning running smoothly, be sure to let us know. Whether there’s a problem today or you’re worried about tomorrow, we can help you stay comfortable.

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Are You Cooling Off the Neighborhood?

Managing Your A/C Bill in Phoenix

It’s no secret that, during the summer, your A/C bill is going to go up. If you’re noticing a bigger increase than you think is right, then there might be other issues at play and you may need an energy audit.

Could you be radiating cool air to the neighborhood because your home is not as tight as it should be?

The Consequences of Leaking Air

Newer construction usually is a bit more airtight than older homes, so you’re likely to not face this problem if your home was built in the last 10–15 years. Older homes such as your mid-century colonial might have more challenges than you anticipated.

There are a number of places where your home could be leaking air and where you have an opportunity to tighten up your home. The Consumer Energy Center, part of the California Energy Commission, points out these primary air-infiltration locations:graphic showing the typical places where phoenix homes lose their cold air from air conditioning.

  • Floors, walls, and ceilings
  • Plumbing penetrations
  • Ducts
  • Fireplaces
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Fans and vents
  • Electric outlets

As the Center points out, all of these leak areas could lead to serious energy issues—and resulting costs. For instance, a sixteenth of an inch crack around a window lets out as much cold air as leaving the window open half an inch.

How to Know If Your Phoenix Home Isn’t Tight

There’s a delicate balance when it comes to how air tight a home is. Too open and you’re cooling off the whole neighborhood; too tight and you’re not letting in the fresh air needed for proper circulation.

Curious how your home measures up? Your first step is to schedule an energy audit. A professional auditor will examine your home for leaks, insulation, furnace and ductwork. As well as perform tests for things such as a blower door, and air leaks with an infrared camera.

Benefits of Performing an Energy Audit

After completing your energy audit, you’ll know where your home has issues and what you can do to fix them. Studies show that you can save from 5% to 30% on your energy bills by following the suggestions of your auditor.

Remember not all fixes need to be costly. While some homes will need new doors and windows to be airtight, others just need some minor cracks filled. You won’t know until you work with an energy auditor.

If your monthly electric bill is a little higher than it should be, and you’re minimizing your A/C usage, it might be time to schedule an energy audit.

Contact Forrest Anderson for a referral to one of our trusted energy auditor partners. We’ll come make any upgrades to your air-conditioning system and ductwork once the energy audit is complete. Let’s work together to keep your home cool and not your neighborhood.

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What Does SEER Really Mean?

Understand what SEER means when making decisions.

Like at school and work, your air conditioner needs to have a review and get a progress report. The government has developed two rating systems for air conditioners as a way to grade them. One, Energy Star, is probably familiar to you, but the other, SEER, is likely something new.

Let’s see what kind of grade your A/C unit has. After all, the cool kids usually have higher grades.

What Is SEER?

SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency rating. Higher SEER ratings mean better energy efficiency.

Essentially, the more heating or cooling the unit produces for each unit of energy consumed, the higher the rating will be. SEER is akin to Energy Star ratings, although they are different.

In the US, residential heating and cooling systems manufactured since 2005 are required to have a minimum SEER of 13. In Arizona, however, given our high average temperatures, the government has made a different rule. As of January 2015, the minimum SEER for HVAC units sold in our region is 14.

Additionally, Energy Star-qualified air conditioners must have a SEER of at least 14.5.

Although we don’t tend to use them in Arizona, window units are exempt from these requirements.

The highest SEER a large A/C unit can get is 23, although most hover much lower than that. A SEER of 15 is considered good and anything higher than 16 qualifies as high efficiency in residential units.

How to Incorporate SEER into Your Investment

If you are in the market for a new heating and cooling unit, you should take a number of factors into consideration. If energy use and cost are important to you, you’ll get more out of a higher rated unit than you will a lower rated one.

In fact, a high-efficiency HVAC system can cut your energy bills in half in comparison with the older models that had an average 8 SEER. Even increasing the rating just one point can have measurable rewards when it comes to your monthly bill during our 100ºF+ summer days.

The SEER number on A/C units is not always clearly listed, but you can ask your trained dealer about the unit’s rating and specifics you’ll want to consider before you buy.

These specifics can be based on the size of your home and how much you want to spend now versus long-term savings. Often, spending a bit more money upfront can result in significant annual savings in energy costs.

Questions?

Forrest Anderson has the answers to your questions about SEER, Energy Star, and which unit is best for your family.

Contact us to schedule your in-home consultation and learn more about how we can help keep your family cool and comfortable.

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