How to Easily Make Any Bypass Humidifier More Water-Efficient

Water rates in Ontario are rising even faster than our property taxes. In 2016, the average household water cost was $800 per year – and it’s climbed even higher in the years since.

You’ve fixed leaky faucets, shut down your lawn sprinklers, even tried to cut your showers short – but it hardly makes a dent in your ever-growing utility bills.

You’re not alone if you’re looking for new tactics to reduce your water use.

One of the common sources of water waste is something most homeowners haven’t considered: the humidifier. All humidifiers waste water, and unfortunately, the more convenient whole-home humidifiers tend to be big culprits.

But humidifiers are a lifesaver in our cold Canadian winters, especially when the humidity drops below 35%. Low humidity makes your home feel even colder, and the dry air can wreak havoc on your health and overall level of comfort.

Fortunately, if you own a bypass humidifier, there’s an easy way to drastically increase its water-efficiency and reduce water waste without turning down the humidity level.

Below, we’ll talk about:

  1. How your humidifier works;
  2. Why bypass humidifiers waste water;
  3. How to make your bypass humidifier more water-efficient

1. How Your Humidifier Works

Many people believe their furnace ‘removes’ moisture from the air and a humidifier puts it back. While it’s true that central heat makes your home feel dryer, it isn’t exactly taking moisture away.

Cold air expands as it warms up. If the amount of water vapour remains the same as the temperature rises, the relative humidity in the space drops. Humidifiers counteract this effect by increasing the amount of moisture the air. There are several ways to do this – some humidifiers produce steam, while others draw the air through a moistened ‘vapour pad’.

Humidifiers fall into one of two categories: whole home humidifiers that humidify the entire home and portable humidifiers than humidify the surrounding space. Portable humidifiers are ideal for small spaces (single rooms, dorms or small homes with no central HVAC system) but whole home humidification is significantly more convenient in the long-term because:

  • A home humidifier controls the humidity in the entire home at once.
    • You don’t have to continually refill it with water.
    • It’s quieter and less obtrusive than a portable humidifier.

Some whole-home humidifier units have a built-in fan (like the Lennox HCWP3-18 Humidifier) while bypass humidifiers like the GeneralAire Legacy 1099 Bypass Humidifier work off your forced air furnace’s blower fan.

2. Why Bypass Humidifiers Waste Water

Bypass humidifiers are ultra-quiet and highly efficient, but they have one drawback: water waste.

Some humidity is lost as the air travels through your central heating and cooling system before it reaches your living space. Water also drains off the unit’s water-soaked vapour pad. Most humidifiers include a drain line that carries this excess water into the sewer.

Exactly how much water a humidifier uses depends on:

  • How long the humidifier runs
  • How much air passes over the vapour pad
  • Chosen humidity setting (and how far it the desired humidity is from the baseline humidity in your home)
  • What is installed in the water line

That’s assuming your humidifier doesn’t have a leak. Just like a leaking toilet tank, a poorly-maintained humidifier can waste thousands more litres of water each year. If you suspect your humidifier is leaking, it’s time for a service call.

Modern humidifiers are far more efficient than their predecessors (using less water per day than washing a single load of laundry in a high-efficiency washing machine.) Still, all whole-house humidifiers waste at least some water while they run.

You want to reduce that waste as much as possible.

3. How to Make Your Bypass Humidifier More Water Efficient

Several years ago, one of the top manufacturers in the humidifier space decided to do something about water waste.

To date, their product remains one of the only devices on the market to effectively limit waste water in your humidifier.

The solution is simple: when the humidifier receives a call for water, the device automatically switches on and limits water supply to the vapour pad. The humidifier releases only the amount of water needed to keep the pad moist – no more and no less – so less water ends up down the drain.

Simple as it is, the WaterSavor™ is proven to cut water waste by a minimum of 50%. That’s using the default settings. If you fine-tune the settings to a specific humidifier model, settings and season, it’s possible to achieve savings up to 96%.

Most importantly, the WaterSavor™ doesn’t affect your humidifier’s output.

Keep Your Humidifier in Top Working Condition

Like all parts of your heating and cooling system, a whole-home humidifier requires proper care and good maintenance to perform at its best. Regular service is also important to avoid costly humidifier leaks – which can trickle away for months or years before it’s discovered.

Homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area can contact us 24/7 to schedule service for any type of humidifier, from drum-style humidifiers to flow-through bypass humidifiers and more.

You can also reach out to learn whether a WaterSavor™ is right for your humidifier.

10 Air Conditioning Mistakes That Make Your Hydro Bill Soar

Good news: the temperature is rising.

Bad news: your hydro bill is soaring, too.

You want to stay cool this season, but at what cost?

For most Canadians, central air conditioning only accounts for 3% of their overall energy use. But if your wallet is feeling the heat, it could be because you’re driving up costs without knowing it.

These are among the most common, avoidable mistakes we see on air conditioner repair calls that have a big impact on your cooling efficiency.

1. Having A Clogged Filter

The air filter is an essential component of any air conditioner. It catches dust and debris so it doesn’t blow around your home. A dirty filter can lead to poor air flow or freezing up your unit’s evaporator coil and can add 5 to 15 % to your hydro bill.

Solution: Filters should be changed once every 3 months on a central air system, more often if it is running all the time.

2. Not Installing the Right Size System

Air conditioners are sized according to the amount of space they need to cool. An air conditioner that is too big will create inconsistent temperatures throughout your house and cycle on and off frequently. One that is too small will work too hard trying to cool your space trying to keep up with the thermostat and wear out prematurely.

Solution: Consult an HVAC professional to make sure you get the right size for your home.

3. Not Installing your Unit in The Right Location

Choosing a poor location for your air conditioner can hamper the ability of your unit to perform at its best. In the wrong location, it has to work harder to cool your home, sending your hydro bills up.

Solution: Make sure your air conditioning unit is located in a shady spot out of direct sunlight and not blocked by bushes.

4. Opening Windows

Keeping windows open is a good way to undermine your HVAC system’s ability to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. If your aim is to take advantage of a cool breeze, don’t run your A/C unit at the same time. Otherwise, your unit will have to work harder to keep down the humidity.

Solution: Instead of opening the windows, consider running a ceiling fan.

5. Not Making Use of Window Coverings

Keep blinds and shutters closed, and curtains drawn on hot sunny days to block the sun’s rays from heating up your place.

6. Not Using A Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can save you hundreds on your annual A/C bill by adjusting the temperature when you are not at home and when you return. The newest generation of smart thermostats are user-friendly and easy to program.

Solution: Install a programmable or smart thermostat like the iComfort® S30, which features a beautiful 7” HD colour touchscreen.

7. Incorrect Positioning of Thermostat

Most thermostats measure the temperature of its immediate surroundings. Positioning one right beneath the sun’s rays could throw off temperature readings and cause your unit to run unnecessarily.

Solution: Make sure the thermostat is positioned in a central location away from direct sunlight or heat sources. You could also invest in a smart thermostat that uses multiple sensors like the ecobee4.

 8. Incorrect Use of Thermostat

A common misconception is that you will cool your home quicker by lowering your thermostat.

In reality, your air conditioner works just as hard to lower the temperature 1 degree as it does for 20 degrees. It just takes a longer. You’ll usually end up with a colder home, and later you’ll have to adjust it again to raise the temperature, forcing your unit to work even harder.

Solution: When you consider that you will cut up to 3% off your energy bill for every degree you raise the temperature, you might want to be patient while your body adapts to the current temperature.

9. Not Running Fans

Installing any type of fan, but particularly ceiling fans, can help move cool air around your home and take the burden off of your air conditioner. You can also use a ceiling fan to help distribute warm air in the winter.

Solution: Look for an energy-star rated ceiling fan and be sure it is turning counterclockwise in the summer.

10. Cooling Unused Space

There’s no need to waste energy cooling parts of your home that are not in use. While we don’t recommend closing the registers in unused rooms, you can reduce the load on your A/C by shutting the doors.

Solution: Close doors to rooms that are not in use.

Has Your Air Conditioner Had a Tune-Up Lately?

Your air conditioner needs regular maintenance to run at its peak energy efficiency and prolong its life. Plus, you can minimize energy consumption up to 30% by having proper adjustments and regular cleaning each year.

Indoor air quality is another concern. If you have a poorly-maintained system, it can become contaminated with bacteria which can lead to health problems as well.

Investing in a Protection Plan when you purchase a new air conditioner will ensure your system gets the attention it needs to run efficiently and safely for its lifetime.


6 Signs your Air Conditioner Might Not Make It Through the Summer

It may be mild today, but you know that summer is just around the corner. And based on the past few summers we’ve had in the Greater Toronto Area, this one could be another scorcher.

Are you confident your air conditioning unit will keep up during a heat wave?

If your air conditioner is a recent addition, you probably have nothing to worry about – just follow a few A/C safety precautions and you’ll be fine. But if you’re relying on an older unit, you’ll want to watch out for the common signs of an ailing air conditioner.

Keep an eye out for red flags such as:

  1. Your home not cooling
  2. A/C making strange noises
  3. Water leaking from the A/C
  4. A/C running all the time
  5. Poor air flow
  6. Sharply increasing hydro bill

Read on to learn why it could mean your air conditioner might not make it.

Your Home is Not Cooling

When the outdoor temperature is rising, the air conditioner is on and your home is not cooling, it is an obvious sign that something’s wrong.

One way to gauge if your A/C unit is running correctly is when your home’s temperature drops at least one degree per hour.

If your temperature is not dropping at this rate, here is a checklist of things you can run through while your central air conditioner is turned off:

  1. Clear away any dirt and debris such as leaves, grass and pollen from around your unit.
  2. Ensure that any shrubs or trees near your unit are trimmed back so there is at least two to three feet of space between the compressor and any plants or shrubs, and five feet of clearance with any trees above the unit.
  3. Remove any covers and coil blankets you may have had on your unit over the winter.
  4. Repair or replace damaged pipe insulation. Pipe insulation that leads to your home can become damaged over winter by moisture and ice.
  5. Inspect the condensate line inside your home. Clear any moisture or build-up from clogging your condensate hose and drain.
  6. Inspect your air filter. Install a high-efficiency pleated air filter that effectively filters outside air so that your system pumps out cleaner air.
  7. Schedule an inspection. Minimize energy consumption by up to 30% by having proper adjustments and regular cleanings each year.

Your A/C Unit is Making Strange Noises

Any noise other than a quiet steady hum is a reason for concern. Loud squealing or grinding noises could indicate that something is loose and needs tightening.

The sooner your failing air conditioner is serviced the better. If problems are caught early, they can save you money in the long run.

Water is Leaking from Your A/C Unit

A puddle of water around your unit is a sign that it has sprung a leak. The two main causes for a leak are the refrigerant line or the condensate line. Fortunately, both are easy repairs. A leaking condensate line will limit your system’s efficiency and can cause water damage in your home. It can be easily spotted by moisture near your condensate drain pan, or near your exterior unit.

A more serious leak would be from the refrigerant line since it contains Freon and becomes a health risk. Freon is an odourless gas that can cut off oxygen to your lungs. Scheduling an annual inspection can detect any potential refrigerant line leaks.

Your Air Conditioning Unit is Running All the Time

If your A/C unit is more than 10 years old, it may be losing its efficiency. As air conditioners age, they become more susceptible to rust and corrosion from excess water. Your air conditioner may also be undersized for your home.

It might be time to upgrade your air conditioner.

Air Flow Issues

Just like your refrigerator, if it smells bad, it’s not a good thing. Musty smells could indicate mold or mildew in your air ducts. Luckily this is an easy fix with a service call to have your ductwork inspected and cleaned.

Poor air flow is another sign your A/C system needs attention. Built-up debris such as pollen, dust, bacteria, pet dander, and carpet fibres can all build up in your ductwork and restrict air flow. Having your ductwork cleaned regularly is a great preventive measure.

No matter what type of air conditioner you have, a clogged air filter will limit the air flow. Remember to clean the air filter in your window or portable air conditioner periodically to maintain good air flow and indoor air quality.

Your Hydro Bill is Increasing

If you notice that your electricity bill is significantly higher than it was a year ago for the same time period, this could be a warning sign that your air conditioner needs attention. When your A/C unit isn’t running efficiently, it runs at a high level trying to cool your home. This translates to higher energy costs. Your unit needs to be serviced as soon as possible.

Make Sure Your A/C Lasts the Summer

Don’t sweat the predictions that the summer of 2019 could be one of the hottest yet! Be prepared with an effectively-running cooling system.  Whatever air conditioning system you own, give your unit the TLC it needs to deliver peak performance when you need it.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, give us a call. We offer the highest ranked air conditioning services in the GTA.