Tips to Reduce Energy Consumption with Central AC Use in Arizona

TIPS TO REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION WITH CENTRAL AC USE

Home heating and/or cooling, depending on where you live, are your largest home energy consumption activities. Here in Arizona it is certainly home cooling. Here is our extensive list of tips to greatly reduce your energy consumption via central air conditioning. You may not be able to use all these tips but you could certainly employ a number of them.

THERMOSTAT CONTROL

A house that is slightly cooler than the outside feels far more comfortable than you might think. Relative temperatures can go a long way. So when it’s 100 degrees outside there is no need to try to create a 60 degree environment inside. 77 or 78 degrees Fahrenheit is only slightly above ideal room temperature and can be plenty comfortable when it’s far hotter outside. Your AC system will not need to work as hard to maintain that kind of temperature.

Use Digital Thermostats – they are more accurate and can be programmable to set different temperatures for certain times of the day.

Dial down your thermometer a couple degrees at night – cooler evening temps make for a better sleeping environment and it easier for your system to bring temperatures down a bit more in the cool night air.

Dial it up a few more degrees for times of the day when there is usually nobody home. A cold house does not keep you cool if you’re not there.

Don’t position heat-producing appliances, such as televisions or lamps, near the thermostat. The added heat can fool your thermostat, causing the unit to run longer than necessary.

CRANKING YOUR THERMOSTAT WAY DOWN DOES NOT SPEED UP HOW FAST YOUR HOUSE COOLS DOWN!!

Don’t do this. It does not work. AC units only have two settings – off and on. When your thermostat detects your house has warmed too far past your setting the AC unit kicks in and will run until the thermostat detects the house has cooled enough. Cranking it farther than usual means it just runs the same but probably for longer since you’ll have a tendency to forget to turn it back up, meaning you’ve let it run too long and consumed more energy than you needed too.

CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING MAINTENANCE

The central AC unit is the largest energy draw. Old and poorly maintained equipment draws far more energy.

Replace old air conditioners with a modern high efficiency Energy Star unit – they use a lot less energy (up to 40%)

Choose the right size air conditioner – too small a unit will struggle to keep up and run constantly, too large a unit will cool your home too fast and frequently be turning off and on while not doing enough to reduce humidity.

Check the air filters on your AC system – replace them on schedule. Dirty and clogged filters cause the system to work harder, using more energy.

Schedule a yearly maintenance with your HVAC contractor to ensure your units are running at peak efficiency.

Keep your air conditioner out of the sun – install on shady side of house or at least have it protected by shrubs or a partial wall or fence

REDUCE SOLAR HEAT INPUTS

The sun will heat any object it shines upon and that includes the inside of your home. These tips will help reduce solar heating as well as save your flooring and furniture from fading.

Close curtains on windows facing the sun

Install thermal liners on your curtains – they reflect more of the heat back out the window

Install window tinting on sun facing windows – residential tint film is designed to cut UV rays substantially

Plant trees and shrubs around your house – their shade will help keep the house cooler

Paint your house a lighter color – darker colors absorb solar energy, lighter colors reflect it away

Make sure your attic is properly ventilated, your roof absorbs a lot of heat. Vents in the eaves allows hot air to escape. Consider adding a ridge vent or attic fan.

REDUCE OTHER INTERNAL HEAT GAINS

Besides the sun there are many things and activities around the home that produce heat.

Turn off pilot lights on gas furnaces and fire places – you don’t need them during the summer

Cook outside – It’s summer, enjoy the BBQ as much as possible on hot days

Install compact florescent bulbs, they produce a lot less heat than incandescent bulbs

Turn off appliances – even unplug them. Many TV’s, CD players, satellite TV receivers, stereos, cell phone chargers and other electronic devices draw power and give off heat even when turned off.

Keep your fridge and freezer full – more food in your fridge and freezer means it won’t warm up as fast when the door is open. Also all that thermal mass stays cooler longer and the fridge does not have to work as hard to keep it cool. When the cooling system is running on your fridge it is producing warm air in your home.

Take shorter showers and vent off the warm moist air – open a window while showering.

Reduce clothing dryer use – hang clothing outside if you can. Don’t use the dryer during peak daytime temperatures, instead use it early morning or in the evening. And keep that lint trap clean!

Don’t use the dryer setting on your dishwasher. Instead open the door and let them air dry.

DIVIDE YOUR HOUSE INTO ZONES

Large buildings employ zoning to more efficiently manage cooling and heating. You can do the same in your home. Most modern central air systems will employ automated zone control systems. Some home systems may employ two or three different central ac units each cooling a single floor of the house. If your system does not have these sorts of zone controls built in you can try these tips.

Have your HVAC contractor install zone dampers into your air duct system.

Close off empty and unused rooms – close doors, windows, curtains and vents. There is no need to cool this space as much as the rest of your home.

If your central AC uses separate thermostats for different floors (or zones) of your house, adjust temperatures according to usage patterns in those parts of your house.

Use small room AC units in your more lived in areas (living room, bedroom). You can let the rest of the house remain a few degrees warmer, reducing central a/c use which can offset the costs of the extra unit.

KEEP THE AIR FLOWING

Use fans – they circulate the air around and moving air help your bodies natural air conditioning (evapo-transpiration) work better.

Turn fans off when you’re not in the room. Moving air cools your skin, moving air with no skin nearby cools nothing, it just eats electricity, and the fans’ motor is producing a little bit of heat.

Re-Arrange your furniture – make sure chairs and sofa’s are not blocking air flow from your HVAC vents.

REDUCE HUMIDITY IN YOUR HOME

Ridding your house of excess humidity will help make your family feel more comfortable. You may even be able to set your air conditioner above 78 degrees when using a dehumidifier combined with fans. Your body can stand a couple extra degrees if the air is drier and moving around.

Use a dehumidifier to take water out of the air- turn it on when the temperature rises.

As mentioned above (reduce internal heat gains), minimize showers, baths and boiling water while cooking to reduce humidity inputs into your home.

INSULATE AND PLUG AIR LEAKS AROUND YOUR HOME

Trap cold air inside as much as possible. Letting it leak outdoors mean you have to cool more of it to replace those cold air losses.

Weather-strip, seal, and caulk leaky doors and windows and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

Seal air ducts – leaky ducts mean you push less cool air to where you need it. Have your AC contractor test and seal your duct work.

Increase attic insulation – insulate your attic to at least R-30.

Use kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans sparingly – you’re pumping out your cool air.

WATCH OUT FOR THE “REBOUND EFFECT”

If you follow many of the tips in this article you will certainly reduce your energy consumption and save money. Depending on where you live and the size of your home those savings could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. A nice chunk of change for most anybody. Be careful though not to simply use the money you save to buy more energy consuming devices or turn your AC down a few degrees thinking you can now be cooler while spending the same as you did before. In energy and conservation economics this is known as the rebound effect.

Brought to you by Armer Air Heating and Air Conditioning 

Contact us for questions, AC inspections and maintenance.

(480) 290-2977 – armerair@gmail.com

 

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The Postpartum Style Struggle #2

Hey there Mamas!

Okay, so now you’re holding your sweet little bundle of joy, the birth is over, you’re sitting there in your hospital bed, probably still in your gown and now sporting hospital panties and a pad the size of a crib mattress. You’ve never felt more glamorous! Am I right? 😉 Well, now may not be the time for glamour, but it can be the time for comfort and confidence! 

Let’s get practical (and cute!) 

If you’re anything like me, those hospital panties don’t even come close to staying up on their own. Like not even close. So definitely let’s do the pants thing. Stay away from dresses for now, you’ll want everything down there to feel secure and in place. Pants can help. My recommendation for your first “mama outfit” would be leggings and a tunic. Get some soft, stretchy leggings preferably black, (just in case your pad betrays you) and wiggle your jiggle into those. They pull everything together and just hold it there. Now, you look like a toddler in a diaper under your clothes, so make sure the tunic you choose, covers your behind all the way. That way, there’s no lumpy bumps hanging out in the back. 

Oversized tunics are pretty forgiving and hide a lot, so if you’re feeling super self-conscious about your postpartum pancake belly, join the club and throw on something that’s fitted in the bust and flows over the stomach. You can even find tunics that have been engineered to come apart around the boobs for easy access if you’re breastfeeding! Nifty! 

Here’s the nitty-gritty about why this look works:

When you look at the model above, where do your eyes go first? Her boobs? Probably. Let’s face it mamas, if we’re going to try to flaunt our assets (one of which is covered in an adult diaper at the moment), we may as well go for boobs. That’s why we want the tunic to be a bit fitted at the bust. Dressing yourself strategically is all about drawing the eye away from where you don’t want it to go. Don’t want people staring at your belly? Get a tunic fitted in the bust, throw on some cute chunky earrings and if you’re heading out for grocery run, or just out to Target to try to stay sane, some cute flashy flats will also help keep the attention in a long line from head to toe. A tunic with a large print will also minimize your belly. The general rule is: large print= area appears smaller, small print= area appears larger. 

Bottom line here, mama friends, don’t stress about it! This outfit is all about no stress and comfort, which is where you want to be right now. Now go snuggle that sweet squishy little newborn and smell his head for the rest of us. My kids’ heads just smell like dirt and maple syrup now. 

Hugs Mama Friends,

Ashley 

Stylist/Owner 

Metro Image Consulting L.L.C.

www.metroimageconsulting.com

Want me to come help you “Shop Your Closet” and learn to style yourself? Contact me on my website or text: STYLE to 480-296-4851. Be sure to mention MOMnation for a special discount! 

Special thanks to Sarayah Blackburn with Blackburn Photography

The Postpartum Style Struggle

So you just had a baby! Congrats! That’s amazing! Your body did an amazing thing, carrying, growing, and then birthing that baby. I don’t know about you, but immediately after I had my babies I was in awe of my body. What I’d just accomplished, it felt like I had just completed the marathon of my life. I remember looking in the mirror after having my last babe and thinking, “Um, what is that?” It never ceases to take me by surprise the shape that your body melts into following birth. I looked just like a busted Pillsbury dough can. And it was easy enough to mold the dough into a shape that could fit into sweatpants, but anything else?

 

Forget about it.

 

I held my baby constantly in public so no one would ask me when I was due. I was frustrated. I had “bounced back” so quickly after my first. But I wasn’t a dewy-eyed 19-year-old new mom anymore. I was a tired, shapeless 4th time mom in my late twenties. It wasn’t my first rodeo and I felt like everyone was staring at my droopy waistline thinking about how far I let myself go. Breastfeeding did nothing to drop the weight. For some women, and some pregnancies, it works like magic. Not so for me. I breastfed almost 2 years and had only lost about 10 of the pounds of the 30 I had gained. 

 

Around the time I was pregnant with my fourth baby, having babies was the thing to do. Beautiful belly bumps graced the red carpets, the covers of magazines, and everywhere I looked, another “glowing” mommy was draped in a couture maternity gown looking better than I did when I wasn’t even pregnant. Sheesh. 

 

Then of course, post baby was a whole other ball game. After all these famous women gave birth, the spotlight went straight from “Aww Congrats!” to “Wow! She got her body back.” In record time, these women were out and about looking (again) better than I did even before pregnancy. One word: Spanx. 

 

But I digress…

 

Without a personal stylist of my own, a hair and makeup team, and access to designers to custom make my clothes, there didn’t seem to be a guide for how to dress myself in this postpartum body. I didn’t want to just keep wearing my maternity clothes after the baby until the weight came off and my waistline returned, but I couldn’t bear one more day clad in sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. 

 

Anyone else feel my pain? 

 

So, I’ll be doing a series of blogs on dressing your postpartum body, starting from Day 1! You have enough on your plate with a new baby, stressing about what to wear shouldn’t be one of them. Let’s figure out how to dress for going home, newborn photos, date nights, play dates, and more! I’m going to be your guru of postpartum style. I can’t to share this series with you! Stay tuned!


Hugs Mama Friend,


Ashley 

Stylist/Owner 

Metro Image Consulting L.L.C.

www.metroimageconsulting.com


Want me to come help you “Shop Your Closet” and learn to style yourself? Contact me on my website or text: STYLE to 480-296-4851. Be sure to mention MOMnation for a special discount!

Special Delivery!!! What to Bring when it’s BABY TIME!

AGH!  It seems like it took forever yet no time at all and now it’s show time, baby!

Here’s what our local AZ MOMs suggest packing in your overnight bag for the hospital…and psst…pack it early!!


For Baby:

Car seat
Baby Wrap or Carrier 
Wipe Warmer and Wipes
Diapers / Cloth Diapers
Boppy

Clothes / Onesies
Swaddle Blanket

For Mom:

Comfy Clothes 
Snacks / Bottled Water
Coins for Vending Machine
Toiletries – Don’t forget a Brush and Mascara
Comfy, Lightweight Robe
Socks and Slippers
Headphones
Ponytail Holder
Deodorant
Comfy Granny Panties
Long, Thin Overnight Pads
Essential oils 
Nursing Bra
Nipple Cream

Postpartum Padsicles
iPad / Magazines / Games
Sleeping Mask and Ear Plugs
Pillow and Blanket
Chapstick
Baby Book

Dads need a bag too!!  You’ll be tired.  You’ll appreciate being as prepared as possible and that will hopefully eliminate tasks so Dad doesn’t have to leave the hospital and you can maximize the time you have together as a new family with the nurses around for help.

Here’s what Dad will need:

Snacks
Sleeping Mask and Ear Plugs
Headphones
Phone Charger
Change of Clothes
Deodorant

Congrats Mama!!

School’s Out, Let’s Play! MOM nation Approved Fun Spots for Holiday Break 🎅🏻

School’s out for the next two weeks!  Here is your MOM nation approved list of fun places to visit around the Valley.

Butterfly Wonderland at 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale — Discover the amazing lives of butterflies!  Children 2 and under are free.

Chandler Farmers Market at 3 S. Arizona Ave, Chandler — A weekly market from 3pm to 7pm each Thursday.  Live music and kid friendly activities!

Children’s Museum of Phoenix at 215 N. 7th St, Phoenix — HUGE Museum with exhibits and experiences for all ages.  Children under 1 yr are free!

Dave and Busters at 2000 East Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe — An enormous arcade AND you can get dinner at the same time.  Brilliant!

Dobson Ranch Park at 2359 S. Dobson Rd, Mesa — This park is AWESOME, new and great for all ages.

idea Museum at 150 W. Pepper Place, Mesa — Great for older kids that love art. There is a room that is specifically designed for toddlers and an area that is safe and fun for babies too!

Krazy Air at 4310 E McDowell Rd, Mesa — Trampoline Park that has something for all ages.

LegoLand at Arizona Mills at 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe — It’s an indoor Lego play land!  Children under 3 are free.

Makutus Island at 6919 W. Ray Rd, Chandler — It’s an indoor fantasy and adventure play place that will please all ages!

OdySea Aquarium at 9500 East Vía de Ventura, Scottsdale — The Aquarium!  Great for all ages.

Pump it Up at 1325 West Auto Dr. #101, Tempe — Indoor playground with huge inflatables!  Perfect for the older kids.

Sea Life Aquarium at Arizona Mills at 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe — Another aquarium!

Schnepf Farms at 24810 S. Rittenhouse Road, Queen Creek — Family fun at the farm and AMAZING food too!

The ZOO! at 455 North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix — Fun for days at the Zoo!

We LOVE Pogo Pass! Buy one Pogo Pass and get into several fun family venues for free throughout the Valley.  The idea Museum, The Zoo, and Makutus Island are a few that are included on the list!  Use offer code: MOMNATION for 60% off!

Family Photo Locations in the Phoenix Area – A List of our Favorites!

Looking for a great location for family photos?  Here’s a list of our favorites!

Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction

Prospector Park in Apache Junction

Canyon Lake (just outside of Apache Junction)

Freestone Park in Gilbert

Riparian Preserve in Gilbert

Val Vista Lakes in Gilbert

Las Sendas in Mesa

The Mesa Arts Center in Mesa

Boojum Tree in Phoenix

Papago Park in Phoenix

South Mountain in Phoenix

Pecan Groves in Queen Creek

Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior

Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe

#PhoenixAZ #LocalAZ

 

Photo credit: Jessica Nelson