Cooling problems hitting your pocket book

Hundreds of homeowners found out that they had attic ventilation problems during the heat wave last week. There are more of them out there, but they don’t know or haven’t figured out that their attic is adding to their cooling problems this summer. Pennies, nickels, dimes or even dollars are being lost to poor attic insulation every day. You may not notice that your cooling bills are larger than they should be, but you do notice when your air conditioner doesn’t keep up on an extremely hot day.  Flip a coin or venture a guess; is your air conditioner dirty and in need of servicing or has your attic developed an insulation or ventilation problem over the past few years?

A/C Can’t Keep Up!

The wake up call for a lot of Chicagoans is when their air conditioner doesn’t keep up on a particularly hot day. More often than not this problem can be fixed. With a phone call to a local HVAC or attic ventilation and insulation professional, you can get your home cooling well once more and save money on your electricity bills the rest of this summer, and winter, and the next summer and winter, and simply put, fixing an attic ventilation or insulation problem saves you money for years to come! Continue reading

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Fall Furnace Preperations

As we begin to enjoy the early days of fall with our windows open and HVAC systems off, each of us would do well to remember to schedule our yearly furnace tune up as soon as possible. All of the major HVAC contractors are flooding our mailboxes with coupons advertizing special pricing to those few proactive homeowners that take advantage of the down season. Although some will listen, every year, without fail, there are thousands of homeowners that wait until there is snow on the ground to get the unit checked for the season. By waiting to the last minute, these homeowners create two big problems for themselves, and once you know what they are, you won’t be one to procrastinate on your furnace cleaning. Continue reading

What is a heat exchanger?

Heat Exchanger

Basic Heat Exchanger

For many types of furnaces, including oil and gas furnaces, the heat exchanger is the key component that makes the system work. The purpose of the heat exchanger is separate one heat source from the air that we breath. In the diagram to the right, it is a heat exchanger that transitions heat from liquid to gas while containing the gas. In most homes a very similar heat exchanger would be used to transfer heat from the dangerous fumes being produced in your furnace to the clean air of your home, while channeling the toxic fumes safely out of your home. Continue reading

Negotiate for the best price

Something to always remember, there are some purchases in life that can be negotiated. When you buy a house, a car, or pretty much any other major purchase, it is common to get the salesman.  With salesmen often comes the opportunity to barter. I would suggest that buying a furnace or air conditioner should be the same way. Most salesmen expect or are at least prepared for some push back no matter their response.  They are there to find a way to get you to buy in a way that helps their company as well as themselves.

To give your self the best shot at success, do your homework. In this case, the more you know about purchasing an HVAC system, the better you will be able to negotiate the bottom line. Continue reading

Burning Smells and Professional Maintenance

As you turn on your furnace for the first time, you may notice a smell as the heat starts coming out. Most times that smell is the dust and lint that has built up over the summer months burning off in the unit. It sounds nasty and can be if this is a regular occurrence in your home every winter season. The best way to get rid of the dust in your unit is to have it cleaned at the beginning of the heating season.

Eliminate Odors and Prevent Problems

However, the smell could be caused by something else. Electrical malfunctions and debris from inside the duct could also cause a burning smell in the furnace. The only way to be sure is to have your yearly maintenance cleaning performed by a professional. Regular maintenance will not only help to eliminate potential odors from your unit but will also help to keep your unit running efficiently and safely.

Fall is Here! Time to Prepare for Winter

We have officially entered the fall season. The weather is changing as well as the color on the trees and it’s my favorite time of year. However it is also a time of year were many people while enjoying the fall colors forget about preparing for the winter just ahead.

Pre-Winter Maintenance

Have you done the pre-winter maintenance? Checked your humidifier for proper operation? Replaced the bulbs in your UV light? Changed your filter and had the furnace and hot water tank combustion compartments cleaned? What about covering your air conditioner with a proper fitting cover has that been taken care of too? Continue reading

Northerners Faced with Furnace Replacement

Those of us that live in the northern half of the United States endure some of the most extreme winter seasons. Blizzards are not uncommon in Maine or Illinois, and as a result, the heating system is used around the clock during the coldest months of the year, typically October to April or May depending on the year. Heavy use of the heating system not only leads to high energy costs, but it also causes a lot of air pollution.

The combustion process that your heating system uses to create heat for the home pumps out greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Natural gas furnaces may be the cleanest burning units when compared to the alternatives, propane, oil, wood, and electricity, but if your furnace is wasteful with the natural gas it consumes it can still be a major contributor to pollution. Continue reading

Duct-Less Air Conditioning and Heating

Recently, a friend asked me to help him find a way to air condition his new TV room in the attic of his home. He has an old Chicago house with a walk up attic, and he and his wife thought that the attic was the best place for the kids to watch TV and be out of their hair all in one shot. Unfortunately, their attic was never a conditioned space, and therefore did not have any duct work attaching it to the existing heating and cooling systems. We checked out all of the possibilities, and even considered snaking flexible duct work up to the attic. Despite our best efforts, we could not come up with any way that wouldn’t involve ripping out a wall or two. Continue reading

Programmable Thermostat Location and Use

There has been a lot of talk about how much money programmable thermostats can supposedly save the average homeowner, but can a programmable really save you as much money as they say it can? Energy Star states that the average homeowner can save about $180 a year when properly using a programmable thermostat, but the problem is that most of us invest in these pricier thermostats but never use them correctly. You have to find a program that works best with your schedule and actually set the thermostat to run that program! If your schedule changes you have to adjust the program. This is the only way you will see these kinds of savings on your energy bills. Continue reading

Why Should I Invest in a Wi-Fi Thermostat?

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past five years you have probably heard about programmable thermostats and the benefits they could potentially have for your home and your wallet. Unfortunately, very few people actually see the savings that a programmable thermostat can provide. Programming a traditional programmable thermostat is very tedious and if you don’t know what you are doing you might never figure it out. You are more likely to simply use the thermostat like a non-programmable digital unit because the programming is so difficult to set. However, programmable thermostats have been changing. Touchscreen capabilities coupled with Wi-Fi access is the new standard in programmable thermostat technology. Continue reading