Staying Cool with an Evaporative Cooler

Whenever I get emails from readers asking about energy-efficient cooling products, the first thing I recommend is an evaporative cooler if they live in a drier climate. Also called “swamp coolers,” these appliances combine the natural cooling properties of water with a powerful breeze to make you feel several degrees cooler.
Affordable, easy to use and very eco-friendly, evaporative coolers also add moisture to the air, which is why they’re great for different parts of the American Southwest. In fact, they use just a fraction of the amount of energy an air conditioning system uses. Here are some other advantages evaporative coolers have over air conditioners:

- Can be plugged into a standard household outlet
- Minimal set-up and less expensive to purchase
- No harmful refrigerants
- Improves air quality by pushing out warm, stale air

However, if you live in a more humid area, keep in mind that an evaporative cooler might just make you feel more damp. But if you live in a suitable area, the benefits of an evaporative cooler just can’t be beat. Here’s a video the Weather Channel recently created on evaporative coolers.

Product Review: ADW-2600W Portable Dishwasher

It’s hard to believe that some dishwashers still don’t come standard in some homes, apartments and condominiums.  We recently moved into a charming historical home and realized  that a dishwasher was never installed.  As a new family on a budget, purchasing and installing a full-size, built-in model just wasn’t doable for us at the moment.  We needed a temporary fix until we could get a standard model put in.

We decided that a portable dishwasher might be the answer for now.  Although not that well known yet, these handy appliances are great for apartment and condo dwellers.  Portable dishwashers are very affordable and easy to use. Instead of requiring any type of plumbing work, they connect directly to your faucet and drain into your sink.  The model we chose was the NewAir ADW-2600W.

This portable dishwasher has an excellent blend of features, design and price.  At less than $250, we found it to be a great value.  This portable dishwasher can handle up to 6 place settings and boasts 5 different wash cycles.  Design-wise, this countertop unit has a crisp, white finish with seamless doors, single door handle and electronic controls.  Additional features include a cutlery basket, speed wash cycle, automatic detergent/rinse aid dispenser and heavy-duty stainless steel interior.

Overall, the NewAir ADW-2600W portable dishwasher has great features at a very affordable price.  Since it just came onto the market a few months ago, there aren’t that many reviews yet, but so far it’s working well.

Pros:

  • Attractive design
  • No plumbing required
  • Stainless steel tub
  • 6 place setting capacity
  • 5 wash cycles

Cons:

  • No digital display
  • No delay function

Product Review: NewAir AF-351 Evaporative Cooler

When used in the right circumstances (high temperatures, low humidity), an evaporative cooler is a great way to stay cool. Also commonly referred to as swamp coolers, evaporative coolers are way less expensive than traditional air conditioners because they use less energy and are simpler pieces of equipment.

Swamp coolers keep you cool by using a very simple process we’ve all experienced but maybe never have thought about. Warm air is passed through water soaked cooling pads, and when the water evaporates, the air is cooled. Think of coming out of a pool on a hot day and feeling the wind hit your skin. That’s the power of evaporation at work!

NewAir recently asked me to review one of their newest portable evaporative coolers for this year: the AF-351. This residential unit covers larger areas up to 300 square feet, and it was more than enough for my large living room. Recent Southern California temperatures have been moderate for this time of year, but there were a few days last week where the temperatures reached well over 90°F, making it prime time to test this unit out.

Overall, the NewAir AF-351 portable evaporative cooler does a great job at what it’s designed to do. Since the area where I live has low relative humidity, I found this product to be an excellent way to stave off the heat on warm days. Since the unit holds a good amount of water (20 liters), I didn’t have to refill the unit often. There’s also a meter that tells you how much water is left in the tank. Here are some additional thoughts on the unit:

Pros:

  • Sturdy design – the unit looks like it’s built well and should last several seasons
  • Digital display – this shows the different fan speeds and timer (if you have this set)
  • Remote – handy for controlling this from different parts of the room
  • Powerful – you can definitely feel the cool air and it covers as much as it claims to

Cons:

  • Sound level – since this evaporative cooler is more powerful than most compact air coolers you’ll find on the market, you’ll definitely hear it on high speeds, though it’s not louder than an air conditioner.

The NewAir AF-351 portable evaporative cooler is a great buy if you’re looking to stay cool for less this summer and is available for less than $200 at www.air-n-water.com.

4 Money Saving Cooling Tips for the Summer

I don’t know about you, but with summer almost here and with my budget getting together, I’m trying to find ways to stay cool without breaking the bank. Here are some tips I might try this year:

Planning My Schedule around Heat-Producing Activities
I really hate cooking in the summer, but it has to be done. But to keep my kitchen cool and save on my air conditioning bill, I’m going to grill outdoors as much as possible. Also, another creative way to plan my way around heat-producing activities is to do laundry at night when it’s not as hot (and during peak hours).

Making Use of My Programmable Thermostat
I have a programmable digital thermostat installed but to be honest, I have no idea how to use it properly! I just push the buttons to raise or lower the temperature. Since I’ve read that programmable thermostats can definitely save you money when used right, it’s about time I learned. One plan is to program it to raise the temperature by several degrees when I’m at work, back down again an hour before I get home and then up again right before bed.

Installing New Window Curtains
This isn’t just an excuse to redecorate, either! I plan on replacing the cheap plastic blinds that came with my apartment and replacing them with high insulation curtains that will keep most sunlight out of my home.

Supplement my AC with a Fan
Did you know that using fan in conjunction with your AC will keep the air moving in your home and make you feel cooler? Apparently both ceiling fans and window fans are great for this purpose. Ceiling fans should be set to low and window fans can be installed in north-facing windows to draw in cooler air.

ZeroWater ZD-013 Water Filter Product Review

I’ll admit that I hate the taste of my tap water. I’m not so much concerned about contaminants but just can’t get myself to pour a glass straight from the tap. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to increase my daily water intake to a gallon a day but my water is usually of the bottled variety (not very eco-friendly, I know). That’s why I decided to buy a home water filter.

After doing research online, I found that water filters generally fall into 3 categories: pitcher-type (like the Brita ones you’ll find at Target), faucet-mounted models and ones that install under your sink. Because I’m not very handy around the home and just need instant gratification, I opted for a pitcher water filter that I can pour tap water in and store in my refrigerator.

I found that a lot of the more popular pitcher type water filters found in larger chain stores were either expensive to upkeep or just didn’t really do much filtering at all. The only model that really stood out was the ZeroWater ZD-013, which I ultimately purchased. This pitcher filter is pretty cool in that it comes with a battery-powered meter that actually displays your water’s contamination level. I was also glad that it comes with a 5-stage filtration system, which is more comprehensive than what I found in other models in the same price range. But what really impressed me about this unit is that it’s actually certified by the Water Quality Association, FDA approved and provides water that’s comparable to bottled.

Here’s a short list of pros and cons:

Pros:
- Water is comparable to bottled
- Comes with neat little water meter to detect contamination levels
- Really easy to use

Cons:
- Replacement filters costs about 15 bucks and only lasts 20 gallons

In the end, because of the high filter costs, it just wasn’t that cost effective for me to continue using the ZD-013 since I drink about a gallon a day. But if you don’t drink that much water, this can be a great product.

The ZeroWater ZD-013 can be found in stores like Target and Air & Water Inc.

Air & Water Is a Great Help

When I look for products, I usually like to look for all the information I can find, just so I can make the most informed decision. Since it’s summer, I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect air conditioner. My old window air conditioner worked really well for me, but unfortunately it broke last week after 7 years of use.

I recently came across Air & Water‘s website, which I found to be perfect for what I was looking for. Not only did they have many air conditioners to choose from, but they also had an extremely useful air conditioner guide. I learned a LOT about air conditioners – stuff that I didn’t know before – but then I also learned that I would cool more comfortably with an evaporative cooler, since I live in an area with dry weather. As a result, I ended up reading the site’s swamp cooler guide as well.

Not only are the people at Air & Water well-informed, but they’re very patient and nice, too! I gave Air-N-Water a call to ask for suggestions, and I ended up finding the perfect cooler just 5 minutes later. So, I think I’ve learned the exact process when it comes to finding any kind of appliance!

Water Purification at Air-N-Water

I have always been prone to allergic reactions, whether from food or from particles in the air. I thought that avoiding certain foods and using an air purifier would solve all my problems, but it turns out, I was wrong. One day, I noticed that I started feeling itchy after taking a shower and that the water smelled funny. So, I searched around Google and realized that my water was probably unclean, filled with chemicals such as chlorine and hydrogen sulfide.

I didn’t know what to do, so I went to Air & Water, the website from which I bought my Airpura air purifier, and spoke to a representative. She was extremely helpful. The Airnwater rep told me that I should get either a water purifier or a filtrating showerhead, both of which would definitely help me out. Water purifiers help right at the source of the water, making sure that every water outlet only produced the purest of water. Filtrating showerheads were basically just for removing chemicals in – you guessed it – the shower. So, I decided to go for a water purifier unit, even though it cost well over a few hundred.

Since I’ve started using the PURPG-12 UV water purifier, I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in both my water and my health. I feel so refreshed after every shower, every face wash. I think my skin and hair are even healthier than before! The strange smell is gone. Apparently the unit uses maximum UV exposure to get rid of harmful chemicals and germs in the water. It’s working great, and I’ve never been happier or healthier.

Humidity Guide

I don’t know about you, but I always have to worry about humidity levels in my home. I live in Southern California, so the weather is always fluxuating. During the summer, my home gets humid and feels musty, while during the winter, my home feels dry and arid. As a result, I’ve had to purchase myself a hygrometer that tells me the humidity levels in my home. Otherwise, I know my house would be in terrible shape! I also have a dehumidifier AND a humidifier. That way, I’m always prepared for whatever weather conditions I encounter.

Dehumidifiers are great for removing humidity and moisture from the air. Many actually collect water from the air, so you have to empty it from a tank at the back of the unit. It gets annoying, but it is really worth the time and effort. When humidity levels are too high, you might experience severe allergies. Your home will suffer too, if you don’t take care of it! Mold growth, stains on ceilings/walls, and condensation on windows/mirrors are all effects of high humidity.

Humidifiers, on the other hand, are used to add moisture into the air. When the humidity levels are too low, you can experience chapped lips and skin, as well as respiratory problems. Your home won’t escape the effects of this either: you may find extreme damage to electronic equipment, your home, or your furnishings – or maybe all three!

If you need to find out just how bad your humidity levels are, simply buy a hygrometer or a humidistat – both of which can be found on air-n-water‘s website. Just make sure to keep humidity levels at about 30-50% during the summer and 30-40% during the winter. This keeps you (as well as your house) comfortable.

Symphony Sumo-J Portable Evaporative Air Cooler Review

Unlike most people, I prefer to use an evaporative cooler instead of a portable air conditioner because I live in an area where the weather is always dry. Evaporative coolers are so amazing (speaking from my past 10 years of experience), especially where I live because evaporative coolers add humidity to the room. On the other hand, portable air conditioners remove humidity. That wouldn’t work where I live because it’d be even more dry!

So two weeks ago, my 5-year-old swamp cooler broke and I started to look online and in stores for one that was better and would last me longer. I found the Symphony Sumo-J portable evaporative cooler, so I started to look for information on that. Air & Water provided the most information, as well as the most informative information. However, I found the lowest price on Amazon.com.

I got it after about a week, and I’m pretty happy so far! The unit is working well. It says on Air-N-Water that the unit is best suited for areas approximately 300 square feet in size – which my room is. It comes with 3 speeds, too, so that makes me happy. I plan to use this as a humidifier only once the winter comes. It’ll be very handy. I don’t think I’ll see a huge spike in my energy bill, either, since the unit only uses 150 W. It’s also very easy to clean. The grill slides right out and right back in when I’m done. The only thing is that this unit is actually kind of loud. However, I’m rather used to it, seeing as my older one was louder. Great product!

NewAir AC-14000H Portable Air Conditioner Review

I’ve always been a fan of NewAir products. I don’t know what it is about that brand, but I’ve purchased so many of its models and they’ve all lasted years. I usually don’t expect that through wear and tear, but I am pleasantly surprised every time. NewAir seems to be exclusively carried on Air & Water Inc, so that’s where I get it every time.

Because I live in Southern California, the weather varies A LOT and I end up using an air conditioner and a heater all in the same week. And with global warming, it becomes rather difficult to keep up with switching the different appliances every day. Plus, it gets quite costly! Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it), my NewAir air conditioner recently broke after more than 5 years of use, so I looked at Air-N-Water’s website to find a new one. Apparently, they just put up the brand new AC-14000H, which was perfect for my whole apartment (it’s pretty small, about 500 square feet).

The NewAir AC-14000H is perfect for my every need. It actually features 4-in-1 technology that includes an air conditioner, a heater, a dehumidifier, and a fan all in one. I feel like this unit was made specifically for me! Now, I don’t have to take out the heater all the time because I can just switch the portable AC into heating mode and I’m set! Plus, I live in a city where the humidity levels are off the charts. This PAC makes my apartment feel much more comfortable. Instead of the old R22 refrigerant that my old AC used, the AC-14000H uses the new R-410A, which is more eco-friendly (I’m all about going green!) and efficient. I’ve since noticed that my energy costs have gone down, which makes me extremely happy, of course.

I already recommended this super-awesome unit to a bunch of my friends. They all love the sleek and compact 4-in-1 design. One even purchased hers from www.air-n-water.com right away! Thank you for such an amazing product!