Why you should take out your window ac in winter

Window air conditioning units work wonders in summer, but in winter, they should be removed and put in storage. Why? Because energy conservation, that’s why.

First of all, no matter how snugly your ac fits in the window—and let’s face it, it probably doesn’t fit very well at all—there’s still a draft coming through. Only a fully shut and locked window is truly sealed against the elements. Ask anyone who’s sensitive to drafts and they’ll tell you they feel one when they stand in front of a window with an ac in it.

window air conditioning unit
At Alvern Gardens Apartments, residents are allowed to install as many window a/c units as they’d like, but it’s important that they remove them all before winter sets in.

Any sort of draft causes the energy output of your heating system to skyrocket because it’s constantly trying to compensate for that continuous flow of cold air. Taking out your window ac is the fastest, easiest, and most obvious way to stop drafts.

The more energy your heating system uses, the more money it costs to run it (obviously), but if you’re renting an apartment where “heat is included in rent,” you don’t notice that money blowing away in the winter breeze. But it absolutely is. When your lease renewal runs around, you’ll see that money again in the form of raised rent. When utilities are included in rent, the amount of rent reflects that. So if you’re causing your landlord to pay high utility bills for your unit by wasting energy, you can bet that your landlord will pass those costs onto you by raising your rent.

Now, there is another important reason to remove your window ac that applies only to those with radiator heat who have their ac installed directly above a radiator (which, if you have radiator heat, is probably exactly where you ac is… it’s more or less unavoidable). Radiators are made of cast iron and they can withstand a great deal, but one thing that is definitely a danger to them is the frigid cold air of deep winter in Pittsburgh. During extreme cold you should never open a window directly above a running radiator because that radiator can crack and leak. An ac inside a window directly above a radiator is pretty much the same thing as an open window above a radiator. If it gets cold enough, that little draft is going to crack your already overworked radiator.

Radiators are not easy to replace because, firstly they’re getting harder and harder to come by, and secondly the entire heating system has to be shut down to do the work. Then there’s the matter of repairing the damage from the leak. A single radiator can leak a whole lot of water and that water will not only destroy your flooring, it will destroy the ceiling in the apartment below yours. You can bet that if your radiator cracks because you opened the window, your landlord will charge for the full cost of repairs, and that’s going to add up to hundreds of dollars.

So when we say you should remove your window ac because it will allow you to conserve energy, what we mean is, you should remove your window ac because it will save you money.

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Winter is coming (again): Is your home ready?

We’ve done quite a few posts now about energy conservation, spring cleaning, winterizing, and general home care stuff. As temperatures continue to drop in the Pittsburgh area, we thought we’d round up some of our past posts on staying warm, conserving energy, and preparing for winter.

Pittsburgh in Autumn
While we enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage, it’s also time to start preparing for winter.
By John [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Winter is around the corner

Pittsburgh’s cold winters call for special precautions

Snow is falling on Pittsburgh

Easy ways to conserve energy and save money

The good news for residents of Prudential Realty Communities like Alvern Gardens, Cornell Place, and Garden Villa is that the heat systems have been turned on for the season. Everyone should be warm and cozy even as outdoor temperatures drop.

Winter is around the corner: are you ready?

Mid-September might seem a bit early to discuss prepping for winter, but according to the Farmers’ Almanac, we’re in for a cold, snowy one as well as a white Thanksgiving. Here are some tips to help you get ready.

  • Take out window ac units. Lots of cold air seeps in around an ac, so remove it before it gets cold to cut back on energy costs. Plus, if you like a tidy home, time is running out to clean your windows inside and out, so why not tackle it all at once.

    Prep before snow falls on Pittsburgh
    Steel City will be covered in a blanket of white soon enough. Is your home ready?
  • Insulate windows. We’ve mentioned window insulating kits before as a means of saving energy, but it can’t be repeated enough that the cheap, easy to use kits are well worth it. Even if heat and other utilities are included in your rent, rising energy costs lead to rising rent, so it still pays to insulate.
  • Sweep out your garage. Those fallen leaves are accumulating and you  won’t want to deal with them once there’s snow on the ground. Remember to keep the door shut so animals looking for a cozy spot don’t get any ideas.
  • Rent a garage. For those of you who aren’t already taking advantage of covered parking opportunities, now is the time to look into it. You’ll be thankful come November that you’re not stuck outside scraping ice off the windshield.
  • Make any necessary calls to maintenance. You probably have a small thing or two that needs attention: a drain that’s not clogged but running slowly, a sticky door handle, or something else that isn’t an immediate concern. The sooner you call maintenance the better because with the first snow fall, even a robust crew will be busy.
  • Buy rock salt and a shovel. Even if you rent and don’t have to worry about clearing sidewalks or driveways, it’s smart to have a bag of rock salt in the trunk of your car in case you get stuck somewhere. And that shovel will come in handy if the plow piles snow against your car as it clears the road. (That garage sure is sounding nice, isn’t it?)

Fall is a nice time to move: beat the heat of summer AND the chill of winter. Contact Prudential Realty Company for our current availability.

Oops: Alvern Gardens March newsletter error

Alvern Gardens’ monthly newsletter came out on Friday, but a key piece of information somehow absconded from the second page: the answers to the March trivia. So for anyone who received the newsletter and wants some answers, here they are (no cheating!):

  1. Pisces
  2. March 15th, the middle of the month, Julius Caesar
  3. Mars, the Roman god of war
  4. Basketball

 

If you didn’t get a newsletter and are curious what the questions for these answers are, stop by the Alvern Gardens Apartments leasing office, located at 1000 Vermont Avenue Apt. 1, Pittsburgh, PA 15234, and pick up a free copy. Our newsletter features announcements about the community, such as garages available for rent; a calendar of important dates; information about our referral bonus; and a form for providing a tenant testimony for this blog.

Easy ways to conserve energy and save money

Two weeks ago, we shared some ways to stay warm and safe in extreme cold. In that post, we missed one key method of optimizing your heat: move your furniture away from radiators and air vents so the hot air doesn’t get trapped. So now that we’re on the subject again, why not talk about conserving and saving with the rest of your utilities?

Water

  • Report any leaks, dripping faucets, malfunctioning toilets, etc. to maintenance immediately if you rent or call a plumber if you own. You wouldn’t believe the amount of water wasted by a broken toilet.
  • Turn off the tap when you’re not using water, like while brushing your teeth. Yes, this one is old hat, but it’s an important one to remember.
  • Recycle old water for other things. When your cat’s water bowl needs a change, don’t dump the old stuff down the drain, use it to water your plants. Don’t have a cat? Put a bucket in the shower to collect the water as it heats up. Even just-boiled water from cooking pasta can be used as an herbicide on weeds.
  • A short shower actually saves more water than a bath, another tried and true water conservation tip.
  • If you don’t have a double basin sink, get a rinsing tub to set into your basin, turning it into a double sink. When washing dishes, fill the tub for soaking and run the faucet in the other half of the sink only when rinsing.

Electricity

  • Charge devices conservatively. Your cell phone likely tells you when it’s fully charged and recommends that you unplug it and the charger to conserve energy. Listen to that prompt. Do the same with your tablets, digital cameras, laptops, and other devices.
  • Know your device and how to conserve its charge so you don’t have to plug in as often. A darker screen uses less energy, so dim your screen and set wallpapers and color themes to darker hues. You can use Google-powered blackle.com to save wattage while searching.
  • Because laptops run on battery, they use less electricity than a desktop, so if you’re on the market, consider the portable option.
  • Turn out the lights when you leave a room, and rely on natural light as much as possible to extend the life of light bulbs and conserve electricity. The same goes for your TV, fan, and other electrical appliances.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs. Even though they’re initially more expensive, fluorescents and LEDs pay off in the long-run by saving money on your electric bill and lasting longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Contact Prudential Realty Company to find out about what utilities are included in rent as well as our current availability.

Pittsburgh’s cold winter calls for special precautions

We’ve just had a serious cold snap here in the Pittsburgh area, and since winter’s nowhere close to over, now is a good time to talk about conserving energy while staying warm.

Whether or not your rent includes utilities like gas, electricity, or heat, conserving energy is good for the planet as well as your wallet (exorbitant utility bills can drive rent up from year to year).

Pittsburgh winter
Even in the cold and snow, Pittsburgh is a pretty city.

Here are some quick tips:

  1. Make sure all windows and doors are properly insulated. A rolled up towel against the base of a drafty door is great in a pinch. Window insulation kits are cheap, easy to use, and work miracles.
  2. Take out all window air conditioning units and make sure all windows are fully closed.
  3. Keep all the doors inside your home open so the air can circulate and heat everything evenly.
  4. Never use your oven to heat your home, this is dangerous, especially with gas stoves.
  5. Contact maintenance if your heat isn’t working properly, a good maintenance service will take care of any issues—both too hot and too cold—in a timely manner and even provide space heaters in emergencies.
  6. Never open a window over a radiator in cold weather: this can crack the radiator and flood your home, and you will likely be charged for the water damage as well as the replacement of the radiator.
  7. When moving, find a home with new windows and doors, and check for drafts when touring rentals if possible.
  8. Never forget the tried and true practice of layering up with cozy sweaters and socks. Hot beverages warm you from the inside out, so while you wait for maintenance, have a cup of tea or hot cocoa.

As long as we’re on the subject of winter and heat, be sure to take precautions for your pipes during extreme cold. Open the cupboard and vanity doors under all sinks so warm air can circulate to them. Keep your water dripping so it doesn’t freeze inside the pipes.

Contact Prudential Realty Company for our current availability and to get information on the heating systems on our properties as well as what’s included in rent.