Energy, Safety and Money-Saving Tips

Periodical Tips - Submitted by Bob Fiore

Furnace and Central Air Conditioning System

  • It's a good idea to have your system professionally checked each year.  You should replace your furnace filter every month (if it a the inexpensive fiberglass type) to three months (for best of the  pleated types).   Choosing a high quality filter can help keep the internals of your system clean, and keep the air your breath cleaner too.  You can read this report to find out more.

  • Check the duct work where feasible for air leaks.  Use quality duct tape.

Air Duct Cleaning:

  • What is air duct cleaning?  Air duct cleaning is the process of removing the dust, dirt, bacteria, animal dander and other contaminants from the ductwork of the heating and air conditioning system in your home or business.

  • According to the American Medical Association (AMA), 50% of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by polluted indoor air.  The ductwork in your home or business may contain bacteria viruses, molds, fungi, pet dander, dust mites, construction debris and other pollutants.  All of these pollutants can make your indoor air quality less than desirable and may even cause unhealthy effects such as allergies or worse.  These indoor air contaminants can pollute the air in your home or business without your even knowing it.  Industry standards recommend that you have your air ducts inspected every two years for cleanliness, and have them cleaned every 5 to 7 years.  Of course, this will vary with the conditions in your home.  If your unit's has never been cleaned since it was built, or it not been cleaned in past ten years, then you are overdue.

    When you shop for company to clean your air ducts please do not be fooled by low-price cleaning-company gimmicks.  Insist on only trained HVAC professionals who understand how your entire system operates and how all the components interconnect/operate.  Improperly cleaned ducts can actually cause more harm than good by stirring up contaminants but not removing them all.

Dryer Vents and Cleaning:

  • Based upon a Consumer Product Safety Alert: Overheated Clothes Dryers Can Cause Fires.  Lint trapped in your dryer vent piping is a proven fire hazard and reduces your clothes dryer's efficiency.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths, and 310 injuries associated with clothes dryers.  Some of these fires may occur when lint builds up in the filter or in the exhaust duct.  Under certain conditions, when lint blocks the flow of air, excessive heat build-up may cause a fire in some dryers.

  • To reduce the risk of fire and get the most efficiency from your clothes dryer, check the lint filter before each use.  Clean it after each use too if others use the dryer who may be less diligent.  While the dryer is operating check your outside exhaust to make sure exhaust air is escaping properly.  If it is not, look inside both ends of the duct.  Remove lint (or any other debris you find.)  If there are signs that the dryer is hotter than normal, this is sign that there is a blockage or that the dryer's temperature control thermostat needs servicing.

  • Check the exhaust duct more often if you have a plastic, flexible duct.  This type of duct is more apt to trap lint than ducting without ridges.

  • Closely follow manufacturers' instructions for new installations. Most manufacturers that get their clothes dryers approved by Underwriters Laboratories specify the use of metal exhaust duct.  If metal duct is not available at the retailer where the dryer was purchased, check other locations, such as hardware or builder supply stores.  If you are having the dryer installed, insist upon metal duct unless the installer has verified that the manufacturer permits the use of plastic duct.

  • Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up. Have a qualified service person clean the interior of the dryer chassis periodically to minimize the amount of lint accumulation.  Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of clutter.

Fire Safety:

Smoke Detectors: 

  • Smoke detectors should be used in your living room, dining area, absolutely all bedrooms and at the top of stairwells.  The detectors should be tested at least twice a year and the batteries should be replaced no less than once a year.  The easy way to remind yourself to do this is each time your clocks are turned ahead in the spring and turned back in the fall.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms: 

  • These alarms should be in all bedroom a minimum: check the box that the units come in for location diagrams and instructions.

Fire Extinguishers:

  • Fire extinguishers should be placed in a cabinet near your stove and near your furnace and hot water heater.  Disposable types are available for in home use.  The recommended is “BC”.  Preferably purchase the ones with a meter. Note the installation date and check them twice a year.

Water Leaks:

  • Water leaks waste more water than you might think! When you see a tiny continuous 1/32” stream, (which is only the same as the dot of your pen), in one month that leak can result in over 6,000 gallons of water being wasted.  A 1/8" stream of water wastes about 3,000 gallons in just one day! If you have a hot water leak, add the cost and waste of the natural gas too.

    For more information about water conservation visit

  • Illustration from a pamphlet distributed by the South Central Regional Water Authority of New Haven, Connecticut. You can request a water conservation kit from them by calling (203) 562-4020.  You can help to keep our common charges low by conserving water and ensuring all water leaks are repaired right away.