Author Archives: Air Specialist Admin

Why You Should Get a Programmable Thermostat

Shoot. You forgot to set the thermostat before you left for work, didn’t you? On top of everything else in your morning routine, how are you supposed to remember to adjust it every day? Wouldn’t it be convenient if the thermostat could just do it on its own?

 

Well, it can. With a programmable thermostat, the days of forgetting to set the thermostat and wasting energy (and money!) are gone. You can come home from work to a comfortable temperature, and you can open that electric bill with ease knowing there won’t be any surprises.

 

Upgrading your thermostat is easy, and Air Specialist is here to help.

 

Why should I get a programmable thermostat?

 

If your electric bill is high during peak seasons, if you forget to adjust your thermostat before you leave the house, or if you’re just plain lazy, there’s a programmable thermostat out there to fit your needs.

 

One prominent selling point of programmable models is the amount of money and energy it can save. By programming the thermostat to fit your schedule, you can significantly reduce the amount of energy wasted in your home. It will automatically adjust the temperature while you’re at work from 9-5, and then it will make sure the house temperature is ideal for you when you get home. You save energy and money without sacrificing your comfort.

 

Another advantage of a programmable thermostat is that it eliminates human error. Did you forget to change the temperature before you left? No problem, it will take care of itself.

 

One other benefit of a programmable thermostat is the simplicity and readability that it offers. The digital screen is easy to read, so now you won’t need to get the magnifying glass to see the tick marks like you did with your old, worn-out, mechanical thermostat.

 

Programmable vs. Smart Thermostat

 

Smart thermostats are a step above the programmable models, because, well, these thermostats require minimal programming. Instead of programming your schedule, some smart thermostats can learn your schedule after just a few days.

 

Smart thermostats allow you to monitor and control your house from anywhere, because, yes, there’s an app for that. Check to see if the air conditioning is running during a hot day and adjust it if you want to save money, or get an alert when your system needs maintenance.

 

One thing’s for sure: you’ll have a hard time feeling dumb when you’ve got a smart thermostat in your home.

 

 

We offer both Honeywell thermostats. Talk to one of our comfort consultants to determine which model would be best for your home. For more information on thermostats, contact us

 

Stop stressing over forgetfulness and wasted money. Let us help you find the perfect thermostat for your home. For more information on our thermostats and services, contact us or schedule your next service call online today.

 

Helping Victims of Harvey

Was Your Air Conditioner Damaged by Hurricane Harvey? Take an ADDITIONAL $500 off our BEST deal on any new Heating and Cooling System!

Air Specialist is an independent dealer. $500 rebate available to residents of Chambers, Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Waller, Montgomery, and Liberty Counties. Call for complete program eligibility,dates, details and restrictions. Offer expires 05/15/2018 WEB2018.

10 Tips for Great Summer Grilling

Are you planning a big end of summer grill out? Whether you’re a veteran pit-master or a relative newbie at grilling, here are 10 tasty tips to put the thrill back in your grill.

  • 1. Don’t Hover Over the Grill.

    Let the grill do its job. Babysitting your meats only leads to blah burgers and steaks. You’ll also get a better sear if you don’t move your steak around too much.

  • 2. Not just meat!

    There are tons of other foods you can grill, from the traditional (corn, potatoes in foil packets) to the unconventional (pineapple, peaches, pizza, and sandwiches). Get creative with the kinds of food you use your grill to prepare (s’mores, anyone?).

  • 3. For the best burger, only flip it once.

    If you like your burgers with a nice sear on the outside and juicy and slightly pink in the middle (a.k.a. The “correct” way), flip it only once. Four minutes on each side should be perfect.

  • 4. Impress your friends with a great sear.

    It’s all about the sear. In order to get a good sear, give your grill ample time to get up to temperature. In order to do this, start the grill well before you start to get hungry.

  • 5. ‘Tis the season.

    Don’t be afraid of seasonings. When it comes to a delicious, flavorful steak, all you need is salt and pepper. Experiment with seasonings with chicken, pork, and even your burgers if you’re feeling adventurous. But for steak, keep it simple.

  • 6. Give it a rest.

    Whether you’re grilling steaks or brats, allow your meats to rest for 3 or 4 minutes after you take them off the grill. The meat will finish cooking and this resting will allow the juices inside to distribute evenly.

  • 7. Clean your grill between uses.

    This is fairly easy but often gets overlooked. Once you’re done grilling your food, get the grill really hot and close the lid for about 15 minutes. After that, use your grill brush and a little bit of elbow grease to get your grates ready for tomorrow night!

  • 8. Is it done yet?

    The only way to really know if your steak is undercooked or perfectly medium is to use a meat thermometer. Add this to your permanent arsenal of grill tools.

  • 9. Don’t flatten your burgers.

    For some reason everybody who’s picked up a grill spatula cannot resist the urge to smash their burgers, which releases all the delicious juices and fats (a.k.a. flavor) out of your meat. In order to get your burgers to cook evenly, hand-shape them with a dimple in the middle with your thumb and index finger.

  • 10. Avoid flare-ups.

    Here are some ways to preemptively avoid grill flare-ups: clean out the catch pan between uses, allow your grill to heat up all the way (which will also burn off excess debris), trim extra fat from your meat, clean your grill between uses, and don’t over-oil your grill. If one happens, do not use a spray bottle with water, which will only feed the fire. Instead, quickly move your food off and cover the grill to extinguish the flames.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be the most popular person in the neighborhood. Grill on.

Great big, beautiful Houston!

Warmer weather, longer days, no school — summer has definitely arrived in full force. How can you get the maximum enjoyment while at the same time staying close to home? From fine art and music to food and ghost tours, Houston is your ticket to summer fun, so check out some of the events and festivals* happening right here in our own backyard.

 

VegFest Houston • June 17 • Stafford Centre Convention Hall • Features vegan cuisine, guest speakers, food demos, a kids’ zone, live music, exhibitor booths, “Vegan 101” panels, yoga and fitness demos, food tasting, prizes, and more.
More Information

 

Texas Music Festival • Through July 1 • University of Houston Moores School of Music • Features performances by classical music’s rising stars, distinguished conductors, and faculty artists from premier music schools and conservatories from around the world.
More Information

 

Freedom Over Texas • July 4 • Eleanor Tinsley Park and Sam Houston Park • Grab your lawn chairs and blankets for this one-of-a-kind patriotic event that is done with a style that is all Houston.
More Information

 

Celebrity Mystery Theater • July 15 and August 5 • Spaghetti Warehouse • The only comedy murder mystery show with an entire cast of celebrity impersonators. World-famous detectives hilariously solve a crime as they lead the audience through a trail of clues.
More Information

 

Ron Mueck exhibition • Daily through August 13 • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston • Balancing realism with the unreal, Mueck captures every feature with astonishing detail and calculated play with scale.
More Information

 

Craft Brewery Tours • Most Saturdays • Brew Trek Houston • Brew Trek is a craft beer tour company dedicated to the celebration of small craft breweries in Houston, Texas. All prices cover transportation, beer samples, and entertainment on the bus.
More Information

 

Fulshear Farmers’ Market • Saturdays • Offers a vast array of produce and food products that were grown or produced within a 200-mile radius of Fulshear. Includes seasonal vegetables, fresh seafood, artisan breads, Dorper lamb, free-range chicken, pastries, and more.
More Information

 

Aunique Ranch Tour • Throughout the week, by appointment only • Aunique Ranch • Visit with over 70 of the country’s champion and well-known Gypsy Cob horses. Spend two hours on a real working ranch or spend the night at the ranch for a real Gypsy Cob horse adventure.
More Information

 

A Destined Conflict: the U.S. – Mexican War • Daily • San Jacinto Museum of History  • On May 13, 1846, the United States of America declared war on the United Mexican States. A wide array of contemporary artifacts — from newspapers and prints, to documents and artifacts written and owned by many of the key players in the conflict — will be on display.
More Information

 

Fabergé: Royal Gifts Featuring The Trellis Egg Surprise • Daily • The Houston Museum of Natural Science • The largest private collection of Fabergé in the world explores international politics, diplomacy, economics, and innovation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Includes the magnificent crown jewels of Catherine the Great.
More Information

 

Ghost Tours of Texas • Daily • Take a haunted walking tour and experience eerie and tantalizing real ghost mysteries. Step through the shadows and discover chilling tales of murder, revenge, passion, heartache, and breath-taking history! Exciting and fun for the entire family!
More Information
 

* All events listed are accurate to the best of our knowledge at time of publication; however, changes do happen. Please confirm details with venue before making final plans.

Know Your Codes Before Your Renovate

Are you a DIY expert? Or do you depend on professionals to do what they do best? Either way, chances are that you do a lot of research before you start a new project. You might scour Pinterest for design ideas, search the web for the most highly rated contractors in your area, or compare prices at local home stores.

But somethings you may forget to research are applicable building codes and home owner association covenants, and this could come back to haunt you in the form of fines or rework later – especially when a building permit was required. Also, when you try to sell your house in the future, work that is not completed to code may hurt your home value. The current property owner is responsible for compliance, regardless of whether they were the owner when the work was done. Therefore, it’s important to know applicable building codes and obtain permits when required.

What do I need to know about building codes?

Building codes exist to protect public health and safety as well as to ensure things like energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, and protection of property values. For example, did you know there are very specific requirements for handrail height and spacing between posts?

Codes are updated every few years, so it’s hard to stay current unless you work with them frequently. Therefore, your best bet is always to ask a professional or call your local municipality before you start any work. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, always check with your HOA to ensure you are complying with any applicable bylaws to prevent rework or legal fees in the future.

How do I know if I need a building permit?

Building permits are required for work that could affect the health or safety of residents if improperly completed. In general, this applies to large projects where structural elements are involved (walls, posts, etc.) or systems are altered significantly (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.). In other words, you do not need a permit for basic repairs, maintenance, and cosmetic updates like painting, programmable thermostats, flooring, and replacing existing fixtures like cabinets, siding, glass, etc.

The following are common projects that require building permits:

  • New roofs
  • Home additions
  • New fireplaces
  • Adding or moving electrical outlets
  • Adding or moving plumbing (sinks, tubs/showers, toilets)
  • New doors or windows
  • Foundation or framing work
  • Installing new air conditioning or heating systems

How do I get a building permit?

To obtain a building permit, you’ll fill out a form and pay a fee. You will need to schedule an inspection when the work is completed, and sometimes an intermediate inspection is also required. The inspector will verify that the work was completed with accordance to appropriate local building codes.

If you are working with contractors, ask them for evidence that the permit was obtained properly and their work passed final inspections. Make a copy for your records.

No one wants to have their brand-new roof, plumbing, or AC unit replaced because the proper permit was not obtained or the work did not pass inspection. Make sure you’re working with licensed professionals who will get the job done right the first time. Contact us for your heating, cooling, and air quality needs!

 

Water-Saving Landscaping Tips

Because we usually do get a decent amount of rain, it’s sometimes easy to think that the Gulf Coast doesn’t have a water problem. But according to the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD), water levels in our local aquifers have declined at an alarming rate, while the population of Montgomery County alone is expected to double in just 25 years.

That’s why it’s really important to make water conservation a top priority when planning any landscaping. To help you with that, we’ve compiled a list of water-conservancy landscaping ideas that are as beautiful as they are water-conscious.

  1. Go native. Once established, regionally appropriate plants and shrubs should require little water beyond normal rainfall. Native plants also tend to be more resistant to pests and diseases. A few local favorites are:
    • Sun — purple coneflower, scarlet sage, guara, pink evening primrose
    • Shade — big thicket hibiscus, Turk’s cap, Arkansas yucca, farkleberry
  2. Get in the zone. In other words, group plants with similar water needs together. This allows you to water according to each zone without overwatering the entire yard. Consider placing the thirstiest plants near your house so they can benefit from roof runoff.
  3. Stay cool. If you install new plants in the early spring or early fall, they should be established by summer and require less watering. When you do water, do so in the cool of morning to minimize evaporation.
  4. Stabilize slopes. Slopes are subject to erosion and runoff, so try to avoid or minimize. If slopes can’t be avoided, plant trees and shrubs with deep root systems to provide stabilization. Rough-leaf dogwood, green ash, coral berry, and Virginia sweetspire are excellent erosion-control choices.
  5. Get new turf. The St. Augustine grass variety common to our area is a water-guzzler. Native Sun Turfgrass, which is a blend of blue grama and buffalograss, is more eco-friendly.
  6. Go easy on the grass. You don’t like mowing anyway, right? In addition to flowering plants and shrubs, try creating beds of native tall grasses such as switchgrass or gulf muhly for visual interest. Groundcover makes an excellent substitute for lawn areas; prairie verbena is one variety that thrives in sun, while pigeonberry favors shade. And take advantage of a paver-and-grass design for garden pathways or patios. The non-interlocking pavers cut down on turf area, while the grass between impedes runoff.
  7. Mulch away. Mulching around beds, trees, and shrubs keeps plants cool, reduces weed growth, and minimizes evaporation.

For more information specific to the Texas Gulf Coast area, check out the Native Plant Guide by the Native Plant Society of Texas.

The right choice of plants and where to plant them can provide beauty and lower maintenance for years, all while conserving our most valuable natural resource, water.

How to Right-Size Your AC System

When it comes to your air conditioning system, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” Getting the right system for your house is not only vital to keeping your family cool and comfortable, but it can also translate into big savings.

Air conditioners that are too big use more electricity. They will cool the air too quickly and shut off too soon – before the building structure has a chance to cool down as well. This allows heat and humidity to sneak back in, meaning that your AC will kick on again and the cycle repeats. This frequent off and on uses a lot of energy. On the other hand, air conditioners that are too small may run continuously but fail to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

Determining the perfect size for your home isn’t rocket science. Start with the square footage of all the rooms you need to be cooled. You can either measure each room yourself or go with the total estimate on your property tax statement.

Air conditioners vary by cooling capacity, which is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. The BTU rating essentially tells you how quickly a unit can cool a room, and it generally ranges from 5,000 to over 20,000 BTUs. Choosing the right BTU ensures that you’ll get the most energy-efficient cooling system for your home.

To determine the right BTU for the square footage of your space, you also need to take into consideration factors like your home’s ceiling height, insulation, and your preferred temperature. Here’s a handy calculator that can help.

There are a few other best practices to keep in mind. In general, for rooms that are shaded, reduce BTU capacity by 10%. Likewise, for those that are full-sun, increase it by 10%. Remember that people give off heat, so add 600 BTU per person in your household. If you’re cooling the kitchen, add an extra 4,000 BTUs than what is typically needed for the room size.

Are you looking to replace or supplement your current system? Depending on the size of your space and your individualized needs, you’ll have several options to consider. All of these types of air conditioning units come in different sizes and efficiency ratings.

Window unit air conditioners

  • Popular because they are affordable and easy to install.
  • Professional installation can ensure safety and prevent leaks.

Freestanding air conditioners 

  • Popular for cooling only certain parts of the home (kitchen, bedroom, etc.) and can be moved between rooms.
  • Most have reservoirs that need to be emptied periodically.
  • They can be heavy and are less efficient but provide flexibility.

Built-in air conditioners

  • Installed in areas of the house that may not be connected to a central AC system (garage, basement, etc.).
  • Require a hole in an exterior wall but don’t take up window space.
  • Professional installation is generally recommended.

Centralized air conditioning system

  • Definitely the most effective and efficient but a greater initial investment.

Your air conditioning system can contribute to over half of your electricity bill during warm weather months, so finding the right AC unit for your home and needs can save you money for years to come. Contact a professional who can recommend the best options for you!

Why an Air Conditioner Tune-Up is a Spring Cleaning Must-Do

It’s spring, so three things are a given: birds are chirping, flowers are growing, and people are doing heavy duty spring cleaning after a long winter. You’re probably checking off your list of spring cleaning to-dos — maybe some carpet cleaning, organizing the garage, replacing light bulbs, etc. But there’s one important thing that likely didn’t make your list—getting your air conditioner serviced.

What Difference Does It Make?

Here are three great reasons why an A/C a tune-up should be an essential part of your annual spring cleaning checklist:

  • Energy Efficiency = Lower Bills. Getting your air conditioner serviced increases the unit’s efficiency. A thorough cleaning of your air conditioner’s motor, coil and other components will save the unit from having to work harder than it needs to.

 

  • Increase the Lifespan of Your A/C Unit. A well-maintained air conditioner can last much longer. On the other hand, if you don’t schedule regular maintenance of your unit, you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars in unexpected repairs, as well as needing to replace your A/C several years sooner than a unit that is well-maintained.

 

  • Schedule Now, Save Later. We all know the early bird gets the worm. In this case, the early bird saves loads of money. If you wait to schedule service until the hottest day of the year when something goes wrong with your A/C, you’ll be at the mercy of the high-demand summer schedule and pricing. Be proactive and schedule service in the spring—you’ll be glad you did.

Seems like a no brainer, doesn’t it?

What Does an A/C Tune-Up Include?

Can’t I just change the filter and call it a day? While changing your air filter every few months is a great idea, it’s a tiny fraction of what needs to be done to keep your air conditioner in peak condition. Here’s what’s covered with Air Specialist’s 18-point Cooling Tune-up Checklist:

Cleaning

  • Wax Condensing Unit
  • Clean Outdoor Coil
  • Clean Compressor Compartment
  • Clean Electrical Compartment
  • Clean Blower Compartment
  • Clean Condensate Drain
  • Inspect & Clean Air Filter (if necessary)
  • Motor/Electrical

Inspect Service Disconnect

  • Tighten All Electrical Connections (when necessary)
  • Inspect Compressor Contractor
  • Tighten All Low Voltage Connections
  • Test Capacitors
  • Oil Motors (if applicable)
  • Inspect Bearings
  • Inspect Fan Blade

Miscellaneous

  • Inspect Thermostat
  • Inspect Condition of Line Set
  • Inspect for Proper Refrigerant Charge

An Air Specialist A/C tune-up will give you the coolest (and most efficient) house on the block. So, what are you waiting for? Beat the east Texas heat and humidity by scheduling your air conditioner tune-up with Air Specialist.

There’s simply no better way to keep energy bills down and cool air flowing.

Equipment Special

Save up to $2,000
On Any New Air Conditioning System*

Ask about 0% Interest for 36 months**

*Consumer rebates range from $150-$2000 based on qualifying equipment. Maximum rebate available with qualifying equipment, Infinity Controls and Infinity Air Purifier based on model/efficiency. Call for complete program eligibility, dates, details and restrictions.  **The Wells Fargo Home Projects credit card is issued by Wells Fargo Financial National Bank, an Equal Housing Lender. Special terms apply to qualifying purchases charged with approved credit. The special terms APR will continue to apply until all qualifying purchases are paid in full. The monthly payment for this purchase will be the amount that will pay for the purchase in full in equal payments during the promotional (special terms) period. The APR for Purchases will apply to certain fees such as a late payment fee or if you use the card for other transactions. For new accounts, the APR for Purchases is 28.99%. If you are charged interest in any billing cycle, the minimum interest charge will be $1.00. This information is accurate as of 01/06/2017 and is subject to change. For current information, call us at 1-800-431-5921.License #: TACLA 024284E TACLA 024285E Offer expires 05/15/2018 WEB2018.

REME HALO® Purification System for only $950

Clean the air in your home!

Coupon must be presented at time of service. Can not be combined with other offers or discounts. Some restrictions apply. Offer expires 05/15/2018 WEB2018.