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What Does Your Furnace Filter Do?

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When the weather gets cold, we must all rely on our furnaces to provide us with comfort and warmth. Of course, if we expect our furnaces to remain in optimal condition at all times, we must have them regularly serviced by heating contractors. Another way that we must keep our furnaces fully functional is by changing the filter on a regular basis. Help for asthma and allergies It’s easy to minimize the importance of a furnace filter, but it is absolutely essential. First of all, the filter collects dust and other debris, preventing it from entering the home through the air vents. For those with allergies and asthma, this helps to keep symptoms to a minimum. It might also be a good idea to invest in a high-efficiency air filter if there are family members with allergies, as they are specially created to prevent even the smallest particles of allergens from infiltrating a home. Minimize system breakdowns Another function of the filter is to prevent buildup of debris on the coils and other parts that are important for overall functioning of your furnace. If debris is allowed to accumulate, then this will increase the likelihood of the furnace malfunctioning. This could lead to the need for potentially pricey repairs, which could be avoided by simply changing the filter. Lower energy bills Heating bills can prove to be pretty costly, especially during extremely cold winters, and a dirty air filter will only add to the operation costs. A filter that isn’t…

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The History of the AC Unit

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When Was The Air Conditioner Invented? Summers before the air conditioner was invented could be down right miserable for some people! When the summer heat sets in, those who live in areas affected by the temperature understand the importance of air conditioning. It helps make the summer months bearable and even enjoyable for us. It was not always that way. Prior to the invention of the air conditioner, residents in warmer areas of the country had to face the summer heat with just the help of fans and the local swimming hole. The development of the modern air conditioner, however, was an adventure itself. The First Air Conditioner The building blocks for the first air conditioner began back in 1902, thanks to an engineer working for a printing company. Willis Carrier had sought to find a way to prevent heat and humidity from expanding and contracting the paper, thus disrupting the company's work. Carrier developed a way to circulate cold water through heating coils. He was thus able to drop the air temperature down to the appropriate degree within the printing factory. The idea quickly caught the attention of people everywhere. Willis Carrier, 1915In 1914, an air conditioner was first used inside a residence. The Charles Gates mansion in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was the first for this honor. Within the next decade, department stores began to take advantage of the idea, with J.L. Hudson's in Detroit, Michigan, being the first. The following year, movie theaters began to take advantage of the...
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Save Money With a Programmable Thermostat

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At times we may wonder: why use programmable thermostats? They save money through temperature settings and time when we forget to turn our thermostat down before leaving. The thermostats work by simply programming the temperature we want for any given time of day. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homeowners can save money by using a programmable thermostat, resetting it for times when away or asleep. Because a person using such a thermostat can adjust timing of the heating according to a pre-set schedule, comfort isn’t sacrificed. A programmable thermostat can repeat and store multiple settings daily (up to six) and can override without affecting the remainder of the weekly or daily program. How Programmable Thermostats Save You Money By adjusting the thermostat for 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, a user can save 5% to 15% annually on his heating bill. The savings are greater in mild climates than in severe climates. According to Consumer Reports, programmable thermostats can save money, if they are set correctly. They can actually cost more money if not used correctly. If we want to decide which one of the three kinds is best for our needs, we need to consider our schedule and determine how often we are away from home for an extended period. According to the government’s Energy Star program, these are the things to consider: 7-day models are best for those whose schedule changes daily. They are flexible and allow users to set a different program daily while…

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Spring Checklist

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Winter hasn’t breathed its last, but spring is almost in sight. For many of us, that means the spring-cleaning bug has already bitten us, and we’re making lists of all the things we need to do before the warm months come. If those lists don’t include these steps for putting our heating systems to bed for the summer, they should. Here’s why. Change the Filters While we probably change or clean the furnace filters routinely during the winter, it’s a good idea to change them one last time before shutting down for the year. Check the Carbon Monoxide Detector Gas furnaces produce carbon monoxide. This odorless but dangerous gas exits through the venting. While newer furnaces only produce small amounts, older, less efficient furnaces can sometimes emit dangerous levels. It’s important to have a carbon monoxide detector installed near the furnace and to check it regularly. Clean the Heating Ducts Heating ducts get dirty over time, and dust and other particulates in the air can irritate allergies. This can be a particularly serious problem for houses that have mice or mold. Cleaning the ducts also ensures that they are in good working order with no leaks, cracks or holes that allow heat to escape and raise our heating bills. Clean the Area around the Furnace The furnace area can gather a significant amount of dust, dirt and cobwebs during the winter months. This can become a fire hazard and can also be very attractive to rodents and insects. Have a Full Inspection…

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Use Safety When Using Space Heaters

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It is the season for space heaters. Space heaters are great little inventions that can help keep natural gas and propane costs lower, heat areas of a house that are not heated well by a furnace, and keep elderly and sick people warm when a furnace alone can’t do the job. Unfortunately, every year across the United States, dozens of homes burn down because people don’t take as many precautions as they should when using space heaters. The following are some basic tips that can keep space heaters and their users safe: Don’t buy or use a space heater without tip-over and overheat protection built in.  Someone you know may have a twenty-year-old heater or perhaps one intended for use in an outbuilding that doesn’t require it to shut off if it is knocked over. Spend the money and protect your loved ones from an unsafe heater in case an overzealous pet or child inadvertently knocks it over. The results could be devastating. Only plug a space heater into an outlet when it’s possible to do so without an extension cord. An extension cord might overheat and cause a fire or an electrical shock injury. If an extension cord must be used, ensure that it is rated high enough to keep the heater running safely without overheating. Be safe when choosing where to put a space heater. Many space heaters have coils that turn red-hot and putting it too close to curtains or a bed skirt can have tragic results. Be…

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What HVAC Systems Do And Why They Are So Important

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While most people have heard of the phrase HVAC, many don’t know what it stands for and why it is so important for indoor environments. The acronym HVAC means heating, ventilation and air conditioning. An HVAC system cools and warms an indoor space. It also cleans air so that a fresh supply is constantly produced for those living and working in buildings. While an HVAC system costs a substantial amount of money, it ensures the comfort and health of those living or working in a home, office, or other building. Heating Heating contractors typically install HVAC systems to warm indoor spaces through central heating. This requires a furnace, heat pump, or boiler that warms air, water, or steam in a central area like a furnace room or mechanical room. Clean air from outside is drawn in through a vent and sent to the indoor heat exchanger to build positive air pressure. The vent can be altered to adjust the flow of fresh air that constitutes the return air. The typical fresh air intake is usually about 10%. The warm air that the furnace generates is sent throughout the home by conduction or convection. Buildings without an HVAC system have to use inferior means for heat such as fireplaces or space heaters. Air Conditioning An HVAC system’s air conditioning component generates cold air and humidity control. The cooling takes place by removing heat through conduction, convection, or radiation. Refrigerants such as ice, air, and water are used with a free cooling system…

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Troubleshooting Common Heating and Cooling Problems

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One of the unfortunate facts of the matter is that “Murphy’s Law” most certainly applies to the world of heating and cooling. When you develop issues, they tend to happen at the most inopportune time. When it comes to heating and cooling, time is always of the essence. You don’t want to spend a cold winter night without heat or a hot summer day without air conditioning. If you begin to experience problems with your existing system, there are a few key troubleshooting steps that you can take to help get to the root of the issue sooner rather than later. Problem: Air Conditioner stops working If you find that your air conditioning has shut off altogether, the first thing that you should do is head outside and make sure that the condensing unit is properly running. You should be able to hear the same humming noises that you can when the air conditioning is operating regularly. If it isn’t, don’t panic yet. Head back inside and check the circuit breakers that power the condensing unit. The equipment itself may not necessarily be damaged, but a circuit breaker may need to be replaced. If one has tripped and is in the “Off” position, turn it back to “On” to see if that corrects your problem. Problem: No Heat from the Furnace If you’re experiencing issues with your furnace, go to the unit itself and verify that the blower motor is running. If it isn’t, look at the control panel on the furnace…

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Tips to Keep Heating Costs Down

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Winter is a chilly season, and our first instinct is to turn up the heat to keep warm. However, there are several tricks to get around turning up the thermostat and keeping your heating bill down during winter. 1. Get a Good Quality Furnace One way to avoid a large bill is to get a furnace that works properly and efficiently. You will need to get to the base of the problem in order to save money in the long run, and the efficiency of the furnace should help lower cost during the winter. Having a good furnace from heating contractors will also prevent unexpected future costs with furnace problems, and you do not want a broken furnace during the wintertime. 2. Turn Down the Thermostat Another way to cut down on winter heating costs is to turn down the thermostat when you are not at home. Whether you are at work, vacation, or out with friends, it is advised to turn the thermostat down to around sixty degrees. This may not do much for your bill for a few days, but do it often enough during the winter season, and the heating costs will go down. 3. Bundle Up If you are already warm under blankets and robes, it will not be necessary to have to turn up the heat. You can also set up a warm fire if you have a fireplace in your home. Invest in heating blankets or warm winter socks, because anything that will keep…

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Winterize Your A/C to be ready for Spring

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With all the cold weather we’ve been having lately, hardly anyone is putting any serious thought into their air conditioning system. After all, it will be months before that system will get used again. Very few homeowners realize that this is the best time of year to take care of the yearly maintenance that is required on their air conditioning systems. Because the system isn’t being used, it’s possible to accomplish everything on the following list without worrying that you’ll need to turn the system on. Winter is also a good time to look for discounts on professional services that your system needs. Remove debris from the outside unit. In the fall, most people have an outside unit that is covered in leaves and branches. As the weather gets colder, this debris can get covered by snow and turn into a paste that can fall through the protective grating, coating your system. Avoid this by getting that stuff away from your unit. Replace your filter. Ideally, you should replace your filter once a month, but at the very least it needs to happen once a season. As you start to use your heater, you’ll want clean air to breath. Flush your condensation pipe. This is the pipe that takes condensation from your inside unit to your outside unit. Because its end is open to the elements, however, it’s common for it to get clogged with leaves or pests in the fall. When you turn on the unit again in the…

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Be Sure Your Family is Safe

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Winter is busy with school activities and the holidays. Other worries can make you can feel overloaded. Then you hear about a family who died in their own home – a place where we are all supposed to be safe – of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and you hope your furnace is in good condition. An average of 430 Americans die each year of accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Many of those deaths occur in homes with malfunctioning heat chambers or improperly vented heaters. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas produced by incomplete combustion in fuel-burning devices such as motor vehicles, gas-powered furnaces, portable generators, and charcoal grills. Gas, oil, and wood burning heaters in your home also produce this deadly gas. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Don’t lie in bed before you and your family drift to sleep, hoping you’ll be safe. You can know that your home is safe by simply picking up the phone. Make a call to an experienced HVAC contractor. Your professional will inspect your unit for wear, cracks, and proper function. He will also inspect the venting of your gas, oil, or wood heating unit. Even if a heater has been properly installed, the vent could become clogged by leaves or nesting birds. Your professional can also check and replace your filters. Your HVAC expert is also able to discuss age and efficiency of your unit. Older models are more prone to…

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