As the summer breezes begin to fade into chilly fall temperatures, a lot of us start to worry about the cost of heating our homes through the winter.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can optimize your heating system fuel consumption this fall so that you’re prepared for winter.

1. Monitor Fuel Consumption

When you’re trying to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your heating fuel costs, the first thing to do is figure out exactly how much you’re using.

The process for calculating your consumption is simple and looks like this:

  • Monitor the heating system burner for one entire hour to see how many minutes of the hour it operates
  • Do the same thing at a later point on the same day
  • Average the total time the burner operated within an hour
  • Multiply this number by 24
  • Multiply this result by the system’s posted “gallons of fuel per hour” ratio to determine the number of gallons of fuel your home uses in one average day

Almost all well-maintained furnaces and boilers use a consistent amount of fuel. However, keep in mind that the average amount you use on a given day can vary greatly depending on current weather and other external conditions.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to do this procedure on different days with widely varying temperatures, then take an overall average of fuel use.

2. Ways To Decrease Your Use of Energy

Even if you think you’re already using as little energy as possible, there are still ways to further decrease your consumption.

Begin by doing your informal home assessment. Take a walk around the house and look for holes and cracks that could allow cold air to freely pass around windows and doors.

When you locate obvious air leaks, seal them off with weatherstripping or caulk.

This is also a good time to take a look at the insulation in your home. Most home constructions are done by including the amount of insulation that was legally required at the time of the build. But like almost every other construction component, the requirements for insulation are prone to change.

If you live in an older home, the insulation might be well overdue for a refresh.

The best way that you can get a close look at your insulation situation is by looking at areas in your attic that don’t have adequate coverage. You also want to look at how the openings around your chimneys are insulated.

If you’re not confident doing your own energy assessment, give an expert a call and get an energy audit scheduled before the temperatures begin to drop even further. Discover more at Dayton HVAC company.

3. Lower the Thermostat Temperature

If you still have a manual thermostat, it can be challenging to consistently lower your energy consumption. Manual thermostats need frequent adjustments and don’t respond automatically to changes in the environment.

Consider investing in a smart or programmable thermostat before the winter months set in.

A thermostat that’s programmable allows you always to optimize the settings that will use the least amount of heating system fuel possible. You can do this by plugging the schedule of your family directly into the thermostat.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the winter months a thermostat should be set at 68 degrees when the family is home. The thermostat should then be programmed to lower by 10 – 15 degrees when nobody is around.

Make sure that it’s programmed to go back to 68 degrees around 30 minutes before you and your family will return home.

Beyond simple programming capabilities, a smart thermostat will offer additional ways to optimize heating system fuel consumption. Simply connect your smart thermostat to your in-home Wi-Fi network, then allow the smart device to adjust its temperature settings and daily forecast automatically automatically.

Most smart thermostats also give you the option of running energy reports. These allow you to take a detailed look at the times when you’re using the most fuel.

4. Is It Time for a Furnace Upgrade?

Of course, replacing your current heating system with a new one will require a bit of an investment. However, the investment is one that will pay you back several times over in the coming years.

If your home has a system that’s more than 15 years old, this might be the time to finally take the leap into a new system.

To determine the exact age of your furnace, begin by researching the model and serial number posted on the unit. If you can’t find specific information online, give the manufacturer a call and they should be able to help.

When you begin shopping for a new furnace, make sure to limit your search to only units that carry the Energy Star label. These will meet or exceed government standards for overall energy efficiency.

According to the team from BoilerJuice US, ” Furnaces that are labeled by Energy Star are, on average, about 4% more efficient than non-Energy Star models. These will save the typical homeowner between $50 – 100 each year on energy costs.”

Another important specification to look for is the AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency). All manufacturers are required to display this calculation on all new boilers and furnaces, so it should be prominently featured on each unit you look at.

The AFUE will be displayed in a percentage format, which means that a 99% AFUE would indicate that 1% of overall fuel input is lost while 99% is used to directly heat your home.

Every type of furnace will have different requirements. For example, an oil furnace has to meet a minimum of 83% AFUE.

Staying On Top of Heating System Fuel Consumption

During these challenging economic times, more and more families are looking for ways to save money this winter. For those that live in cold climates, understanding and optimizing heating system fuel consumption is a fantastic way to do this.

Now you know exactly what you need to do.

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How NEOFECT Created a Smart Glove (Robotic Arm) That Uses Online Gaming for Rehabilitation

Wearable technology keeps evolving. And it is transforming the way we experience the world. Watches, eyeglasses, rings, bracelets and even smart home devices like the thermostat are changing how we consumer information, monitor our health and use home products. Smart technology has a significant role to play in how people will live in the future.

NEOFECT wants to change how to aid rehabilitation and the provision of clinicial real-time patient data. In an interview with  Scott Kim, Neofect’s co-founder and CEO of the US office, he spoke to us about how he started NEOFECT, the company’s success factors and challenges they have faced in their bid to change physical therapy using online gaming.

Brief summary about your startup

Established in 2010, NEOFECT is a mobile health startup with a vision to deliver an affordable and effective at-home system to aid neuro patients with central nervous system disorders such as a stroke.

Its first product, RAPAEL Smart Glove, combines a wearable device, virtual reality and gamification for rehab exercise, while its software analyzes the data from built-in sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level.

The device has been successfully employed by a number of major hospitals in South Korea since December of 2014, and approved for use in the US and Europe. NEOFECT has offices in S. Korea, San Francisco, and Poland.

Why and how it was started

The President of NEOFECT, Ho-Young Ban, experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by stroke patients and their families when his father and two uncles fell victims of stroke.

Although his uncles were fortunate to survive, they had to turn down the rehab therapy because of the costs involved. So, when his friend Young Choi came up with an idea of Rapael, Ban could not resist.

Soon after, their classmate from the University of Virginia’s Darden MBA program Scott Kim joined the team to launch the US operations.

Kim was born with spinal bifida and went through a surgery and a long rehabilitation process, so he immediately recognized the opportunity and became a co-founder and the CEO of the Neofect’s US office.

What has been the biggest success factors

Personal motivation of the founders combined with the latest, most advanced smart technologies have become the major engines behind the company’s success.

– Gamification, which motivates a patient throughout the rehab process. It helps to induce neuroplasticity for hand function of a patient with a brain damage.

Various rehab games are updated monthly and each game targets specific movements such as squeezing the orange for finger flexion/extension and pouring wine for forearm pronation/supination, for example.

– Artificial Intelligence: the software analyzes data from the glove’s sensors and provides training tasks based on the patient’s activity level. The algorithm is designed to enhance learning multiple functions by offering an optimal task at a proper level of difficulty.

– Wearable Device: RAPAEL Smart Glove is a wearable bio-feedback training gadget. Lightweight and designed to fit different hand sizes, it uses the Bluetooth technology to collect the patient’s data.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company?

The biggest challenge was the product’s concept itself. Many people believed that Rapael could be a threat to the therapists. Fortunately, after we launched the program in several hospitals, we’ve been able to prove that our device is designed with the doctors’ and patient’s needs in mind and helps them make the rehabilitation process more efficient.

Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?

This sounds like a cliché, but the right team is easily the answer to me. With the right people, you can make necessary adjustments based on new information to make sure there is a product-market fit.

My previous job was to lead a team to make mobile apps – without any exception, all great apps loved by users were made by great teams.

Final words for those chasing the startup dream

Never underestimate the importance of execution. Many people waste their time just to validate what they think or others think, or even just to finish the conceptualization.

However, you should “fail fast” in order concentrate your efforts on building a product which has a market demand, and of course, to save time and money as well.

Plus, you should fail while you are small rather than big, if you’re meant to face it. The earlier you do the reality check, the faster you can reach your goal, although it might cost you a couple of failures at the beginning.

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