HGG 2011 Gift-A-Day: Auto Air Tamer and PCI Generator ionizers

WHERE THE AIR IS FRESH AND CLEAN

Ah, Texas summers! Swelteringly hot and filled with allergens, but we still love it here. That doesn’t mean we have to suffer in silence. Everyone uses air conditioning, and you can improve your air quality — or that of a loved one — pretty efficiently, too, with air ionizers. The Auto AirTamer is perfect for closed-in spaces like a car, and comes with a lanyard that allows you to purify your air with negative ions that create an electrostatic field removing pollutants. For bigger jobs, the Sharp Plasmacluster Ion Generator suspends airborne microbes throughout a bedroom, letter you sleep without sneezing. It’s great to give to an allergic partner, but the real beneficiary is you. The Auto AirTamer is priced at $49.99; the Sharp PCI is priced at $299.

Available at AirTamer.com and SharpUSA.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Great Spaces: Conditioner love

Yes, you can have a cold house without the big bills — and that’s not hot air

By David Taffet

Perhaps the one thing we loathe the most besides triple digit temps in summer is that dreaded electric bill. The air conditioner is a must for summer in Texas, but the wallet sure takes a beating. One local expert recommends these simple tips to help you keep your cool and some green.

Todd Ylen of TNS Mechanical in Arlington said that only half the air conditioning complaints his company receives could be traced to the main unit. The first thing he checks is the overall cleanliness of what he calls “the guts.” He recommends a professional cleaning with caustic chemicals.

“It should be done professionally,” he says, “The chemicals won’t hurt the plants but it can melt the rubber off your sneakers.”

During the season, he said, don’t be afraid to wash the unit with a hose, but not a pressure washer. A garden hose will not damage an outdoor air conditioning system. They’re made to withstand gale-force winds.

Keep grass and weeds off outdoor condensers. They clog the system and decrease efficiency.

Next, Ylen said he checks the house.

“How efficient is the ductwork?” he says. “How efficient is your house?”

The outer lining of much of the ductwork installed in the 1980s has deteriorated. Squirrels, raccoons and other animals that get into the attic can cause a tremendous amount of damage to the ducts as well.

Cold air will blow in the attic but never reach the living areas of the house if the ducts are torn or worn. He recommends modern, high-insulated ductwork.

Next, he suggests an energy audit company to check for leaks around doors and windows.

“Seal the house,” he says. It pays off in lower energy bills quickly.

And ventilate, he said. Ylen called the old whirlybirds on most roofs worthless.

He recommends solar-powered, fan-driven ventilators. A year ago, he said, they were $1,800. Today they sell for $400, an amount that will pay for itself in one season. He calls it an upfront investment that continues to pay off by lowering electric bills on air conditioning and never costing a cent to operate.

Filters should be changed monthly. Dirty filters prevent the system from drawing air easily, making it work harder and use more energy.
Programmable thermostats are also useful in keeping the system from cooling the house when not needed.

Ylen calls radiant barriers ineffective with a 50-year payback, but insulation very useful.

“A preventive maintenance program is crucial,” he says. He sums up his energy-saving tips to all homeowners — insulate, ventilate and stop air leaks.

TNS Mechanical services homes throughout Texas and has other tips at AirConditioningRepairArlington.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

Bad press continues for Chevelle Apartments as tenants claim units are too hot in February

A few weeks ago we told you about a tenant who claimed he was threatened with eviction for complaining to management about a leaky roof at the Chevelle Apartments.

Before that, there was this WFAA report last summer about the A/C being out for several days at Chevelle, which is in the heart of Oak Lawn at 2607 Throckmorton.

Now, tenant Stephanie Cook tells KDAF that her apartment has become “dangerously” hot again. But wait, it’s only February. Yes, but it’s warm outside, and the complex has a chilled-water system, which means tenants can’t control the temperature in their units. And they’re afraid to open the windows due to the threat of burglary.

The owner of the complex, Jack Gian, says he has no plans to turn on the A/C anytime soon and is “in shock” over the complaints: “You can’t just flip a switch,” Gian says. “I mean out here it is probably 65 degrees, 70 degrees. It’s wonderful. Maybe their units are a little stuffier than the outside. They should open windows. They should get in the habit of letting the fresh air in. You don’t control your own thermostat, to get what you want when you want. That’s one of the things they’ve got to give up when they move into a property like this.”

—  John Wright

Query • 08.20.10

What are you doing to beat the heat?

……………………….

Jerry Birdwell — “Come and visit Lake Tahoe. Forecast for today is a high of 72.”

Dorian Dean — “Staying in air conditioning, as much as possible and driving up the electric utility’s profit margin.”

Natalie Phillips — “Going to the pool.”

Lisa Rainey — “Our central air went out so we are holed up in the bedroom with a window unit trying to stay cool.”

James Navarrette — “Staying indoors and catching up on ‘True Blood’ episodes.”

Ross Virock — “Drinking lots of water and driving with the top down, not much else I CAN do unless someone has a pool I can hang out by.”

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Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens