4 Tips for Keeping Your Home Comfortable During the Holidays

The holidays are full of exciting–and sometimes hectic—moments, many of which happen right within your home. With so much going on—parties, out of town guests arriving, and other holiday related activities—the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your home is comfy enough for you and your guests! Be sure to make this holiday season extra special by implementing these easy tips to keep your home comfortable.

Weather Proof Your Home

Before guests arrive, be sure to weather proof your home with simple upgrades, such as new weather stripping where needed. Add caulking to plug any leaks around windows, doors, and outlets on external walls. Also, use fabric draft blockers on the bottoms of your doors to prevent cold air from entering your home and warm air from seeping out.

This goes for larger areas too. If you have an attic, be sure that the attic is properly insulated and the door leading back into the home isn’t leaking any drafts. Any air-leaks around the edges can be sealed with weather-stripping, insulation, or a bit of caulk, depending on where the leak is. If your home has a fireplace, be sure to seal off the flue, which will help to keep the cold outside air from entering your home. Be sure this is done each time you are not actively using your fireplace to ensure that the warm air stays where you want it, rather than escaping out the chimney. If your fireplace runs on natural gas, be sure to turn off the pilot light when it’s not in use.

Don’t Heat Rooms that Aren’t in Use

This is a great tip for those times when you are hosting holiday parties and get-togethers. Of course you want to keep your guests comfortable, but you don’t want to break the bank! Since you’ll probably be isolating guests to only a few rooms, go ahead and close the heating vents to any rooms not in use. This includes any bedrooms, guest rooms, and storage areas. By concentrating the heat only on the areas you’ll be entertaining, you can easily cut down a bit on energy costs.

For Overnight Guests, Mind Your Thermostat

According to the National Sleep Foundation, an indoor temperature set to 65 ºF makes for the perfect sleeping atmosphere. During the nights when your guests sleep over, by setting your thermostat to a lower temperature, you can help keep them comfortable while saving on energy costs. It is estimated that by each degree you reduce your thermostat during the winter, you could save up to 4 to 5% in energy costs. Also, keep your guest’s rooms stocked with extra blankets in case they are sensitive to chills.

Don’t Forget Those Special Touches!

Keeping a cozy home during the holidays isn’t just about making sure your home’s temperature is comfortable. Pay attention to smaller details around your home and your guests will be forever grateful. For both drop in guests and those who stay overnight, be sure to keep a well-stocked kitchen. Have both coffee and tea available in the mornings, and fill your refrigerator with typical kitchen essentials, like milk, veggies, butter, eggs, cheese, and coffee creamer. Have a variety of “grab and go” type foods on hand, so that people can fill their bellies with little effort on either their or your part. Options such as well stocked fruit bowls on the counter, a few varieties of cereal, snack foods in the cupboard, and easy grab and go foods, such as yogurt, in the fridge are always a great choice.

Also, make sure your bathroom is inviting! Have hand soap, clean hand-towels, and a few air fresheners available for guests. For those who are staying overnight, offer them plenty of clean fluffy towels, some travel sized toiletries, and fresh clean linens to make their stay with you extra enjoyable.

If you need help ensuring that your HVAC system is up and running smoothly to keep you and your guests comfortable this holiday season, contact us today. Whether you just need a tune-up or a more complicated repair, we are ready to help you maintain home comfort.

 

 

Plan Ahead: Don’t get stuck in the cold with these heating issues this winter

Experiencing a heating problem can be ROUGH. Here in Chicagoland, we get some cold winter nights where it pays to have a high-performing, reliable heating system in place. When that system isn’t working or is causing issues for you, you may worry about the comfort and safety of your family members and your home structure. On the other hand, repairing or replacing your heating system can also be a burden. Below, we’ve compiled some of the most common complains from homeowners during the winter months and provided advice for how to prevent or handle these issues.

Problem: My Heater Kicks On Constantly

There are two reasons that a furnace or heating system “cycles” or kicks on and off constantly. First, check your thermostat to be sure that it’s working properly. A faulty thermostat, or one that has been programmed ineffectively, can cause your heater to signal that it’s time to turn on just moments after it turns off. Another reason your heating system may cycle is that inadequate air flow is heating your home in patches, or less than desired, so that your heater must work constantly to keep temperatures up. If this is the case, your filter and/or blower could be dirty or clogged, causing heat to disperse unevenly or sparsely into your home OR your home may be leaking at the windows, doors, or foundation. A professional can diagnose any one of these issues.

Problem: The Air in My Home is Too Dry!

This fix is simple – your HVAC system needs to be upgraded with a home-wide humidifying component. If you’re reading this from our local California area, you’re familiar with the dry air we can experience here, especially in the winter months.

Problem: My Home Smells When I Run the Heater

Unwanted odors can appear when your heating system is run for the first time in the winter – stagnation can cause this to happen. However, if you have operated your system multiple times and still experience odors, you could have unwanted debris in your ducts or vent casings, or you may simply need to change out your filter!

Problem: It’s Warm in One Room & Freezing in Another

The best way to avoid this problem is by scheduling routine duct cleanings and replacing your air filter routinely. Sometimes, the problem is as simple as a dirty filter or heating coil. Other times, you may be experiencing excess draft in one room – say, one with a lot of windows – and plenty of trapped heat in another room. Winterizing your windows and doorways can help with this problem.

Problem: My Heat topped Working Entirely

Unless you have lost electricity to your home or experienced a surge, a complete loss of heat is not normal. Check your fuse box first to make sure you haven’t simply lost power. Next, you will want to check your pilot light or ignition system if you have one. If this has gone out, it’s best to consult with a professional – tampering with your furnace or other heating system can be dangerous.

Problem: My Energy Bill is Astronomical

There are a lot of steps you can take to ensure that you’re keeping your electric bill as affordable as possible. Winterize your home by sealing windows and doors, open your curtains on sunny days to help warm up your home naturally, and keep your home cooler at night, when you’re all wrapped up in bed. This will ensure that you’re not wasting precious energy.

For more tips on how to prevent and remediate heating issues this winter, call your trusted HVAC technician at Bartlett Heating & Air or shoot us a question on Facebook or Twitter!

 

Preparing A Furnace For The Winter

The furnace in an HVAC system usually sits idle all summer, and sometimes for parts of the spring and fall. All that time unused can lead to issues when it is fired up that first frosty day. To keep your home warm this winter, prepare your furnace early. Avoiding this first step might mean an expensive service call and a cold night’s sleep. Preparing a furnace for use will help ensure it is working efficiently, resulting in lower heating costs than an inefficient one.

Replace The Furnace Filter

Replacing or cleaning a furnace’s filter should be the step to furnace care when temperatures drop. Regularly inspecting the filter during winter (once a month is a good frequency) ensures the air coming from the furnace is unobstructed. Clean filters also improve the quality of air in a home, helping to safeguard it against polluted air.

If their furnace is still using a simple panel filter, homeowners may wish to consider upgrading to a pleated filter, high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter, or electrostatic filter. A better filter type will increase the system’s efficiency and increase air quality.

Clean Vents And Ducts

Another crucial step in furnace care is cleaning the vents. Using the hose attachment of a vacuum or a handheld dust buster, homeowners can suck up dust and particles that have settled in the ductwork. They may also consider removing the vents and checking for dust buildups just inside the ducts and removing these if present. Ensuring clean ducts and vents keeps airflow strong and air quality high.

Check The Blower Belt

Every year, the blower belt inside a furnace should be inspected for cracks. For safety, homeowners should trip the breaker that supplies power to the furnace before taking this step. Once the power is off, remove the furnace cover and inspect the belt. If the belt has any obvious cracks or damage, it should be replaced.

Inspect The Flue For Obstructions

The exhaust flue on the outside of a home is how the furnace expels unnecessary air and dangerous carbon monoxide. If the flue is blocked by debris, like a bird’s nest, it can result in damage to the furnace or the dangerous buildup of exhaust fumes. Additionally, be sure your furnace area is free of clutter and that nothing vulnerable to heat is near it.

Set And Program Thermostats

If you changed your programmable thermostats, take a peek at them to be sure your schedule for turning on and off is the same. Programmable thermostats connected to smart systems need to be set to allow the home to be cooler at times when no one is home and to warm up later.

Preparing a furnace and HVAC system for winter is a bit of work, but it can help prevent serious problems. Replacing filters, inspecting blower belts, and setting thermostats help keep a home warm all winter long and reduce the chances of needing a furnace repaired. If you need assistance testing and preparing your furnace for the upcoming winter, contact us today.

 

Should I Consider an Electric Heater for My Home?

We are very money conscious these days and that is a good thing. With gas furnaces costing so much money to run each winter, people want to save money as much as they can. One way they come up to save money is buying electric heaters in hope of not using so much expensive gas. There are a few things to look at when considering the electric heaters. First, the heater costs around $300 to buy each one. You should then analyze how much it will cost to run that heater by using it for a month and not using it for a month. You then look at bills and compare. You might be better off by putting layers on or bumping up the temperatures a few degrees. Sometimes the electric heater can cost 50% more to heat a room than a gas furnace. The manufacturers say they have 100% efficiency but that is not true unless it is doing what it is intended to do. An electric heater might be nice for a small room to heat it easily but what about the rest of your home? You might have to buy a heater for each room in order to heat it to your liking. The gas furnace will have the air forced into each room evenly. Having to use multiple electric heaters to heat your home will get more expensive than just turning up your furnace. If you are still interested in the electric heater, start with one heater and use it one month, then don’t use it the next month to compare bills and decide what is right for you. Electric heaters are great if your gas furnace goes down as a temporary fix until your gas furnace is repaired. Call Bartlett Heating and Air for all your HVAC needs!

What You Need to Know About Your Furnace and Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer. It is colorless, odorless, and it cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Carbon monoxide is emitted when any kind of fuel is being burnt since it’s a bi product of gas. It is poisonous to us because carbon monoxide binds to the red blood cells over oxygen and starves our body of oxygen. Below is a bit more information on preventing  carbon monoxide leaks in your home.

Carbon Monoxide in Your Home

There are many appliances in your home that create carbon monoxide. When these appliances  get old or are not maintained you have the risk of getting carbon monoxide poisoning. Gas and propane powered furnaces, wood-burning stoves, non-electric space heaters and gas or propane stoves and ovens all create carbon monoxide. Your car creates carbon monoxide too, and the levels can build to dangerous levels if you run your car in a closed place like your garage. Never run a generator in your home. They give off carbon monoxide and should not be in your home.

Your furnace is another big home appliance that you use often that can emit deadly amounts of carbon monoxide if not maintained. Your furnace’s heat exchanger can crack with old age and leak out the carbon monoxide that it should be keeping inside. This is why it is important for you to have your furnace cleaned and checked each fall.

How Carbon Monoxide Can Impact Your Health

Many people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, which is completely preventable with proper care. There are some early warning symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that you can see. They are close to the flu symptoms of headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and more. If you start to feel any of these symptoms get to fresh air immediately and then to a doctor.

When caught early you can fix the issue easier. Infants, children, pets and elderly are much more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. Long term exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to permanent neurological and circulatory system damage or even worse, death. Getting your appliances checked each year can prevent accidental poisoning.

How Bartlett Can Help

Bartlett Heating and Air can help you avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in your home through regular furnace maintenance. The first test Bartlett Heating and Air does is the carbon monoxide test. We then follow with a 28-point full inspection and cleaning.

Keeping up with routine furnace maintenance, cleaning, and inspection is one of the most important things you can do to keep your family safe each year. You should also have carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and make sure they always have working batteries.

Make sure your chimney and flue are free of blockage, which can leak carbon monoxide into your home, and get your furnace maintained every year by a professional like the ones at Bartlett Heating and Air. Contact us today!

Winter Weather Projections for Bartlett, IL

Winter begins on December 21, and though that may be a few months away, it is never too soon to start preparing yourself and your home for the upcoming winter weather. By looking at 2016 winter weather projections for the Bartlett, IL area, you will be more prepared for what type of temperatures you can expect and can begin to take preventative measures to keep your family safe and warm this winter season.

2016-2017 Winter Weather Projections for Bartlett, Illinois

Even though winter is awhile off, we can still see projections for what temperatures and weather will be like this winter in Bartlett. These projections will help you understand what winter weather you’re up against, so that you can take adequate measures to prepare yourself well before winter.

Bartlett, IL Winter Weather Projections

According to The Weather Channel, at the end of December 2016, the average high will be between 30 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit with an average low between 14 and 16 degrees. Temperatures will drop a few degrees in January with an average high of 30 degrees and a low of 13 degrees. These cold temperatures will continue on into February, eventually picking up to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though there is no way to tell exactly how much snowfall the area will get this winter, Bartlett, Illinois had an average of 34.9 inches of snow over the past 30 years. This measurement is a bit higher than the U.S. average of 22.4 inches. About 83 percent of the city’s snow falls during the winter months.

Prepare HVAC System for Winter in Bartlett

Now that you know what you can expect from the winter weather in Bartlett this year, it’s time to prepare your home for the winter. Here are a few steps that you can take to make sure that your home is ready for winter:

  • Test your heating system. Turn on your heating system to make sure that it works. If the heat does not come on or the system struggles to turn on, this could be a sign that you need a tune-up or repair. Likewise, loud noises, heavy vibration, or burning smells could be a sign that your system needs to be cleaned or repaired.
  • Clean or replace your air filters. Make sure that your air filters are cleaned or replaced regularly to keep your HVAC system running smoothly and efficiently. Clogged or dirty air filters can cause your system to work harder than it needs to, which wastes energy and causes wear and tear to the system’s parts.
  • Make sure your home is well-insulated. Seal any cracks or gaps around your doors and windows to ensure that your home is well-insulated. Poor insulation can allow air to escape, making your HVAC system work harder to heat your home in winter.

If you need help getting your heating system ready for the chilly winter temperatures, you’ve come to the right place! Give us a call today to schedule an HVAC tune-up so that your heating system is ready to keep you warm all winter.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New AC or Furnace

Furnaces and air conditioners are big-ticket, must-have items in most American households. In order to justify the expense involved, you must buy units that work reliably and help you keep your home comfortable for years to come. However, certain mistakes can potentially lead to disaster when it’s time to purchase a new furnace or AC. Familiarity with these pitfalls can save you both money and long periods of unnecessary regret.

Buying a Unit with Too Little or Too Much Capacity

All furnaces and ACs have a minimum and maximum operating capacity, and are only fit for use in homes within a certain range of layouts and square footage totals. Many people shopping for a new heating or cooling system don’t know which units work best for their needs and end up installing underpowered or overpowered models in their homes. If you fail to avoid this pitfall, you leave yourself open to problems such as premature AC or furnace component damage, an inability to keep your household comfortable and needlessly high utility costs.

Making Price Your Only Consideration

Everybody loves a bargain. Unfortunately, when it comes to buying a heating or cooling system, a purchase that initially seems like a bargain may cost you both money and peace of mind in the long run. Simply put, a contractor who will install a furnace or AC for a rock-bottom price may rely on cheap materials and/or shoddy workmanship to make that price a reality.

Forgetting to Consider Energy Efficiency

When reviewing your options, you may be tempted to avoid highly efficient furnaces and air conditioners, since these units often come with an upfront price premium. However, by paying that extra bit of money at purchase time, you may provide your household with a long-term reduction in energy costs that actually saves you money over the working life of the unit.

Not Checking Out Multiple Contractors

You may be tempted to take the path of least resistance and only explore the options provided by a single HVAC contractor. However, for a number of reasons, another contractor may offer the same types of options at a significantly lower price. You’ll never know if you fail to check out multiple contractors before making your final decision.

Not Probing Your Contractor’s Background

Like any other industry, the HVAC industry has its share of untrustworthy and downright fraudulent providers. Unless you get verifiable information on your contractor’s background, you leave yourself vulnerable to the occasional unscrupulous or incompetent HVAC practitioner.

Not Specifying Your Contract Details

Even after verifying your contractor’s reputation, you can easily run into trouble if you fail to get a clear, detailed contract in writing. In addition to giving you general peace of mind, a well-articulated contract will help protect you if rare or unexpected problems occur during or after installation.

Make sure to check this blog often for additional advice on ways to get the best in heating and cooling services for your home.

5 Common Home Heating Myths

At this time of the year, many unpaid experts seem to appear out of the woodwork. These self-proclaimed experts claim to have excellent ideas keeping your home warm in the winter. The problem is that some of these people are remarkably uninformed about energy saving tips. The purpose of this article is to look at some of the popular home heating myths they dish out and dispel them.

The fireplace fallacy

Some experts regularly tell us that a wood fire place is a great way to heat your home. The truth is that the wood fireplace is bad for your bank account. Wood is expensive and buying this commodity regularly is likely to dent your wallet. In addition, your fireplace eats up oxygen and this is not particularly healthy for your heated indoor air.

The programmable thermostat myth

The programmable thermostat sets the temperature automatically for but this is something you can easily do yourself. While it is very convenient for a machine to set the temperature for you, this option does not necessarily save you money. For a start, most of these devices cost $50-$500. There is also the fact this device can malfunction sometimes. When this happens, your energy bill will definitely head north. To prevent this unpleasant eventuality, set your thermostat yourself and save your money.

Crank it up

This is definitely one of the most popular home heating myths out there. According to this myth, setting your thermostat to 85 degrees will heat the home faster for you. This is a misconception because your furnace switch is just like a light switch; it is either on or off. Cranking it up will only result in a waste of money and a waste of energy.

Always leave it on

This myth tells us to keep our homes at a certain temperature even if we are not home. Common sense tells us that this is a huge waste of money. Heat your homes when you are home and turn off the heating system when you are not home to enjoy the warmth.

Change your windows

It is true that replacing drafty windows with efficient ones will help you save money but you have to look at the cost benefit analysis. Good windows cost big money. Now, if you shell out big bucks only to save $250-$850 a year, your economics is not quite spot on. It is better to look at cheaper options before rushing to replace your windows.

Final word

There are many home heating myths flying around but you do not have to believe them. Learn to distinguish between myth and reality. Better still, follow us for more articles that will keep your heating and cooling systems running efficiently.

Two-Stage Heating – Ideal For Reliability And Comfort

Quality HVAC systems should offer a good balance of reliability and comfort. Ideal units will have a variety of settings and energy-efficient options. Most HVAC units will allow you to adjust the temperature and fan settings. This gives you the ability to raise and lower the heat and cooling regulator, but the output setting will normally remain consistent.

If your living in climates that are consistently hot or cold, it is ok to have a unit that runs on full power at all times. On severe weather days, you would need this type of strength just to get the minimum amount of comfort. A system with an adjustable output would be more cost-effective, but people rarely think about costs when they are trying to find relief from extreme temperatures. Multi-phase systems are generally used in areas with varying weather conditions.

On a typical HVAC unit, the heat or air will circulate until the room temperature matches the temperature on the thermostat. The unit will then shut down temporarily until the room temperature moves closer to the outdoor temperature. This gradual change will cause the unit to start up again, and the cycle will repeat until someone shuts the system off. This intermittent set-up works well, but it is not as efficient as a Two-Stage Heating and Cooling system.

If you want a long-lasting reliable system, you should definitely invest in a unit with Two-Stage Heating and Cooling. This HVAC arrangement preserves the motor because it is not always working at its highest capacity. When the temperature changes slightly, the unit will work at a lower strength to conserve energy. It will only run on full power when the outdoor temperature change is drastic.

Two-Stage units offer a greater degree of consistency and relaxation. The unit never shuts off, which means the air is always circulating throughout the room. Since the temperature regulates automatically, you will rarely need to adjust the thermostat manually. For the most part, you could just relax while your system keeps you at ease throughout the day.

Many benefits are associated with Two-Stage Heating and Cooling Systems. If you keep up with our articles, you will continue to receive this and other helpful HVAC information.

Reduce Home Heating Costs This Winter

Many parts of the country have experienced exceptionally cold weather during recent winters. Increasing demand may cause some fuel prices to rise in the coming months, so it is important for homeowners to find ways to reduce home heating costs:

  1. Furnace ducts often leak one-quarter to nearly half of the heated air they carry. People can cut heating expenses by sealing these ducts. On the other hand, duct cleaning is only beneficial if the ductwork is visibly dirty.
  2. Homeowners reduce costs by servicing their heating equipment at appropriate intervals. It makes sense to do this once every 12 months. However, systems with ducts have filters that should be replaced repeatedly during cold weather.
  3. Many people set their thermostats to much warmer temperatures than necessary. If you currently set it higher, try turning it down to 68 degrees in the day and 60F at night. This saves fuel and reduces maintenance costs as well.
  4. Attic floors should be sealed and adequately insulated to prevent heat loss. The minimum recommended thickness for cellulose is eight inches. Homeowners need 11 or more inches of rock wool or fiberglass insulation to maximize efficiency.
  5. It may be wise to install a new heating system that operates more efficiently or uses a less expensive fuel. Natural gas currently costs the least while electricity is usually the most costly energy source. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict future prices.
  6. Everyone should check for drafts in their homes, especially around window frames. They are easier to find during cool, windy weather. Spray foam or caulk may be used to seal them and stop cold air from entering the room.
  7. Electric space heaters can affordably provide supplemental heat in bathrooms for short periods of time. However, it is safest to choose a model with a GFCI plug. The entire unit should be designed to withstand exposure to the extra moisture produced by showers.

Basically, people can reduce home heating costs by eliminating various leaks, using efficient equipment and avoiding excessively high temperature settings. Please follow us to read more about the best techniques for HVAC maintenance and energy conservation.

Follow us for more articles on how to keep your HVAC system running efficiently and save you money.