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How to Heat Your Home for Less

Think a ceiling fan is nothing more than a decorative dust collector during these cold winter months? Then it’s time to revisit the subject.  Because when it’s operated in reverse, or clockwise, a ceiling fan can help make your home feel warmer and save you as much as 15% on your home heating costs.

Since warm air rises, your thermostat doesn’t register all the warm air that ends up trapped near your ceiling.  As a result, you need to set the thermostat higher for ideal comfort levels in the spaces you occupy. That’s where your ceiling fans comes into play, provided you have the type that can rotate clockwise with the simple flip of a switch.  Once you do that, the fan blades will push warm air from the loftier reaches of that room down to wear you can enjoy the benefit of the heat that, until that moment, was doing you no good at all.

Even if you have separate thermostats for each level of your home (assuming you have a two-story home), you’ve probably noticed that the lower level feel cooler than the rooms upstairs. Well, now you don’t have to crank up the heat downstairs to compensate for the discrepancy.  Instead, install a ceiling at the top of the landing or right nearby to help push warm downstairs to where you can benefit from the boost.

Come summer time, switch the blades to run in their normal counter clockwise rotation and enjoy the added feeling of “cool”.  Winter or summer, you’ll also enjoy paying less for your conditioned air.

For more ideas on how to heat and cool your home for less, contact the indoor comfort specialists at Precision Air & Heat today.  From annual preventative maintenance to high quality repairs and new system installation, we offer everything it takes to help you and your family enjoy maximum indoor comfort, around the clock.

 

How to Prevent Ice Dams from Forming on Your Roof

Icicles are inherently beautiful, but they can be a sign of trouble, too. Cold temperatures at night with even a slight warm-up during a day can produce ice dams on your roof. Ice dams prevent melting snow, ice, or fresh rain from flowing down gutters.

Depending on the shape of your roof and the seriousness of the ice build-up, ice can also rip up loose shingles on your roof.  Then, when all that snow and ice melts, water has a much easier time gaining access indoors.  And then you have a not only a mess on your hands, but a major repair bill.

Here are some tips on how to prevent the problem before it starts:

Snow removal: After a big snow fall, it’s best to remove the snow from the first foot and a half of your roof. This allows melting snow to run down the drain properly. A good bristle broom or roof rake can easily pull the snow down, but if you are unable to reach the roof you can call a roof professional.

Keep gutters clean: Leaf or tree debris can also contribute to the flow of water away from your roof. Before the next storm come, have your gutters and downspouts thoroughly cleaned if you haven’t already done so.

Insulate: Adding an extra layer of insulation to the attic can keep your home’s warm air from entering the attic. That warm air on the underside of the roof contributes to the melting of snow and ice, so once again prevention is key.

Already have an ice dam: If you already have an ice dam, quickly remove as much snow from the roof as possible to prevent it from getting any bigger. You also can put ice salt on the dam to help get rid of it faster.  Remove any icicles that are hanging and monitor your ceiling and walls for signs of water until the ice has fully melted. Also, never use a hammer, screwdriver, or axe to chip away at the ice as this can easily make matters worse by damaging your home.

Sounds like a lot of work, right?  Well, it doesn’t have to be provided if you follow two basic home maintenance steps:

  • Clean or have your gutters and down spouts cleaned once a year to remove all leaves and other potential obstructions; or, have your gutters covered with gutter guards.
  • Ensure that your attic insulation is at least 6” deep, in good condition, and that it covers the entire space.

And if, at any time, you need help in keeping your heating system in good repair, one call to Precision Air and Heat will get it done.

8 Ways to Maintain Fireplace Safety

No other source of heat offers the kind of special warmth and ambiance you get from a wood-burning fireplace. It can instantly make your home feel more welcoming, add a touch of architectural interest, and set a subdued mood for a quiet family evening or special gathering – and all while melting the cold away.

But a fireplace is more than just a pretty face. It’s a critical part of your home heating system that can pose certain risks to your home and family if not used and maintained properly. So, keep those fires burning safely by following these important safety tips.

  1. blogPrevent creosote build-up and uncover hidden dangers by having your fireplace professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.
  1. Have a chimney cap installed to reduce downdrafts and prevent rain, snow, and debris from falling into your chimney.
  1. Keep the mantel and area around the hearth clear of decorations, furniture, upholstery, or any other flammable objects.
  1. Keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use to keep warm air from escaping up the chimney.
  1. Never start a fire with flammable liquids, and never burn trash, plastic, or cardboard.
  1. Avod using soft, wet wood. Season hardwoods for at least 6 months before burning.
  1. Keep remote gas fireplace starters out of reach of children. And remember to always supervise children and pets around a burning fire.
  1. If your wood-burning fireplace is equipped with glass doors, keep them open to make sure the fire has enough air and to help prevent creosote build-up. Use a metal mesh screen to keep embers from escaping.

On the other hand, if you’ve been lighting fires more and more frequently to help compensate for a deficient home heating system, then it’s time to call in the professionals:  Precision Air & Heat.  We’ll thoroughly investigate the problem to see what’s going on, and then give you one more options to get your furnace working properly again.  With Precision Air, you also can count on a guaranteed upfront price and our customer satisfaction guarantee.

 

Clean-Air Plants for Your Home

blogIt’s a lucky thing that most Americans don’t suffer from claustrophobia when you consider how much time we spend indoors during a typical Charlotte area winter.

When the first signs of spring occur, we tend to practically sprint our way to the backyard or front sidewalk just to take in the warmth and let it embrace us.

Well, what if you were to bring some of Mother Nature’s greenery indoors to help keep you company not just during the winter, but all year long.  If you have even a modicum of a green thumb, here’s what adding plants to your living spaces could help you accomplish:

  • Added beauty
  • Something new and fun to help keep you busy
  • Cleaner indoor air as many types of house plants are highly adept at filtering out bacteria and other airborne pollutants and keeping them out of your lungs

That’s right:  many house plant varieties are highly effective at attracting and devouring bacteria and other airborne pollutants. Here are just a few worth considering:

  • Boston Fern
  • Aloe Vera
  • Spider Plants
  • Dracaena
  • Peace Lily
  • Ficus
  • Bamboo Palm
  • And others

What’s the big deal about cleaner indoor air? Well, according to the EPA, indoor air is about twice as polluted as outdoor.  It can be up to 100 times more polluted.  Everything from dust, dirt, pesticides, chemical by-products, radon, and formaldehyde and much routinely find a way into homes like your and, ultimately, into your lungs.  Which means any means of cleaning up your indoor air should be considered.

Here’s one more. Simply contact Precision Air & Heat today and ask about our several whole-house air cleaning options. We have the right solution for every home and budget.  Plus, cleaner indoor air also helps your heating and cooling systems to run more efficiently, and that means greater comfort and reduced energy costs.  Contact us today and ask for a free in-home air quality analysis and proposal.

 

 

The Benefits of Late-Season AC Preventative Maintenance

blogHere in the Charlotte area, it’s common to be running your AC system well into October, and possibly even into November. That makes for a pretty long air conditioning system, and helps explain why so many of our customers opt to have preventive maintenance performed twice each year – once in the spring, and again in the fall as the season slowly comes to an end.

So there it is, one great reason to schedule late-season preventative maintenance for your AC system. Need another?  Okay, then how about if you skipped your spring cleaning and inspection?  If so, that means your system has been running pretty much non-stop since April and definitely could benefit from a little bit of professional TLC.

Bottom line, here’s why AC preventative maintenance in the summer or fall is better than no AC maintenance at all:

  • Your system’s average lifespan is 15 – 20 years, and annual maintenance is crucial to that kind of longevity.
  • If your system is still under warranty, failure to have AC maintenance could cause your warranty to be terminated.
  • The main point of preventative maintenance is to keep your system as repair free as possible. But let’s say we do spot a small issue during our inspection.  Fixing it now is bound to cost less than waiting until the problem gets bigger, which undoubtedly it will.  Plus, when that happens, you’re likely to face at least a temporary system shutdown.
  • Annual preventative maintenance also helps protect your family from electrical fire, mold and mildew build-up, and other potential hazards.

Bottom line, your AC system depends on annual preventative maintenance to run better, last longer, and help reduce your utility costs – regardless of whether that service is performed in the spring, fall, or both.  Has it been a year or longer for your AC system?  If so, contact Precision Air today to schedule service.

 

Common Furnace Warning Signs

blog2Furnaces have their very own language, and one that’s not very difficult to learn.  That’s the good news.

Here’s the rest of the news.  If your furnace is “talking” to you at all, that’s cause for concern.  Because it could be alerting you to anything from a minor repair all the way to a total heating system replacement.

The key is to act as soon as it starts making any unusual noises or showing other signs that all is not well with it:

Strange Noises

Furnaces are not supposed to ping, pop, wheeze, or make any other annoying sounds.  If they are, it could indicate a worn or loose part, or restricted airflow.

Uneven Temperatures from Room to Room

Your home heating system, if properly designed and installed, initially gave you equal amounts of warm air from one room to the next.  If that’s no longer the case, problems with airflow could once again be the cause.  Or you could have one or more blocked registers, vents, or baseboard heating units on your hands.

Out-of-sight Home Heating Bills

You expect certain minor rate increases from year to year, but nothing that should be causing you sticker shock.  If you’re paying way too much to heat your home, start by cleaning or changing the filter; if that alone doesn’t do the trick, a more thorough investigation will be required.

Thermostat not Responding

If you find yourself turning the thermostat ever higher to achieve even minimum levels of comfort, that’s another clear “message” that all is not well.  In this case, the problem could be a faulty furnace or the thermostat itself.

What do all of these and other furnace warning signs have in common?  Here at Precision Air & Heat, we can thoroughly investigate them all and recommend exactly the right solution to bring back whatever measure of indoor comfort you might currently be doing without.

How to Keep Your Pets Warm this Winter

blogDo you think if cats or dogs could talk we might care for them differently?  Absolutely!  They’d tell us about their day, what they enjoyed, what they could have done without, how they feel about your latest pet food purchase, and so much more.  And then, instead of assuming you know exactly what they want all the time, you’d learn a thing or two and perhaps alter your tactics.

Take, for instance, the case of outdoor dogs and cats. Just because they come home at night, as usual, doesn’t mean they’ve had the time of their lives.  Instead, isn’t it possible they’ve had a spectacularly dreadful day?  Of course it is, especially in the dead of winter.

Well, since you can’t have that discussion with them after all, the next best thing you can do is proactively see to their proper warmth and care.  Here are a few solid suggestions:

Bedtime: Not everyone likes to have their animals in bed with them, but during a storm or a power outage snuggling close may be the best way to keep your animal warm. You also can give them a blanket to sleep under. If they must sleep on the floor or in a crate, try to keep them from sleeping directly on the floor. Let them sleep on top of something with a little cushion to keep their body heat close to them.

Clothing: Not all pets are the right breed for heavy cold and wet snow. Your dog may need boots to keep from getting frostbite, and to protect them from the damaging effects of road salt chemicals. Salt is damaging to their paws and can make them feel sick if they lick their paws. Also, a sweater or jacket can help keep them warm during time spent outdoors.

Calories: Be sure to feed the dog and cat more if it has been very cold. They need the calories to maintain a fat layer; plus, staying warm burns extra calories in and of itself.

Heating source: A hot water bottle or microwavable warm pack can be kept in their sleeping area during the day to keep them warm, but don’t let them use an electric blanket when you’re not at home.

Limit their time outside: Dogs can also get frostbite, so monitor their outside time to 10-15 minutes at a time. If they’re inclined or bred to spend more time outdoors, make sure they have an appropriate structure to keep them warm, dry, and protected from the weather.

If and when a cat or dog ever calls us to report a problem with your home heating system, we promise to post the full transcript of that conversation on our blog. For the time being, however, we’ll assume that the voice we hear is your own.  As such, you can count on Precision Air to do everything we can to provide the service you need in timely fashion.

 

Preventive Maintenance for Your Heating System

blogIt’s that time of year again. Time to take the plastic off your favorite sweaters, rotate your summer/fall wardrobes, dust off your fall decorations, and enjoy all the beauty autumn has to offer.

It’s also time to schedule your annual heating system inspection and tune-up. Not as much fun as all that other stuff, we know, but crucial to your family’s winter-long indoor comfort and added safety.

Your furnace, just like your air conditioning system, works hard to provide the kind of season-long comfort we know you expect.  But it can’t go it alone.  That’s where annual preventive maintenance comes into play – it’s our annual opportunity to ensure everything is working up to par and with all safety features checked and re-checked.

What’s more, a yearly cleaning and inspection typically results in fewer and less costly repairs, a longer system lifespan, cleaner indoor air, and lower utility costs.

What goes into a Precision Air heating system cleaning and inspection?  It’s an in-depth process that includes these and other critical steps:

  • Clean, check, and adjust pilot light
  • Clean or replace filter
  • Test for gas leaks
  • Check all electrical connections and wiring
  • Check thermostat
  • Inspect blower wheel and motor
  • Inspect and adjust fan belts
  • Inspect exhaust system for proper venting
  • Lubricate all moving parts as needed
  • Clean heat exchanger

For the kind of preventive maintenance you’ll appreciate and your heating system will love, contact Precision Air today.

When’s the Best Time to Buy an AC System?

Let’s call this answer a “rule of thumb” with nothing ironclad about it. Because, among other things, we’re not all going to agree on the definition of “best time”.  For one person, that might mean when their favorite brand goes on sale, or their AC service provider comes out with a killer financing deal, etc.

So, all of that aside, there is one time of year that generally tends to favor the buyer vs. the seller, and that’s right now:  late summer/early fall.

Here’s why. Here at Precision Air and at thousands of other heating and cooling companies around the country, our busy time for AC-related AC work is early spring to mid-summer.  After that, things start to slow down, especially on new installations.  And frankly, it’s no fun being even a little slow.

blogNow let’s look at the seasonality issue from your perspective.  Last year your AC system showed signs of slowing down as evidenced, in part, by steadily rising electricity costs.  But it made it to the finish line and you thought, “let’s see if it has another year left in it.”  And, lo and behold, thus far this cooling season it has!  But you’re still paying a lot more than you would like to for electricity, and you absolutely get the fact that your system won’t last forever.

So now, here in late summer/early fall, you once again have two basic options.  You can hope, once again, your system can hold out just a little bit longer so you can push off the decision to replace it until next spring, OR, you can replace it now.

Here’s where the two perspectives come together.  Because if you buy now, you can take advantage of the following:

  • Our need to unload any excess inventory
  • Not being as busy as we would like, scheduling the installation and making it happen will be a breeze
  • You have every incentive to negotiate your very best price – remember, we want the work!

Would we love to outfit your home with a new and super energy efficient AC system?  Of course we would.  But only if you really need one. If so, why not give Precision Air a call today and tell us you read this blog and that you’re looking for your very best deal.  You’ll find us highly receptive, we promise.

Breathing Techniques that Help Reduce Stress

Stress can be brought on by a million and one different factors. And yet many of us struggle with how to manage and even minimize life’s daily stress factors.

That’s why we’re happy to share the following breathing techniques with you, each one designed to help reduce stress in 10 minutes or less.

Belly Breathing 

Belly breathing is good for releasing anger and upsetting thoughts; it’s also useful for pain relief and general relaxation.

  • blogPlace your right hand over the center of your chest, your left hand over the center of your stomach, and take a slow deep breath in. If you notice that the hand on your stomach rises higher than the hand on your chest, you have been successful in drawing that breath deeply into your lungs.
  • Exhale through your mouth, letting the breath out slowly and completely. When you feel that your lungs are nearly empty, pull your stomach in a little to squeeze the very last air from your lungs.
  • Repeat four times until you have completed five cycles of deep refreshing abdominal breathing.

Once you’re comfortable with this breathing technique you can stop using your hands.

Counting Breaths

Counting Breaths is a simple technique that occupies your mind by keeping it focused on counting every time you exhale. As you place your full attention on your outgoing breath you may notice that life begins to feel less rushed and more peaceful.

  • blog2Take a few deep breaths and let tension drain away from your shoulders and concentrate on breathing steadily, slowly, and quietly.
  • Count “one” to yourself as you exhale, and the next time you exhale, count to “two”, on the next exhalation count to “three” and onwards until you reach the number five.
  • Begin a new cycle, starting again with “one” on your next exhale.
  • Repeat this cycle five times, or more if you feel comfortable.

The Calming Breath

The secret to this technique is the simple act of counting out an extended exhalation.  You’ll find it feels very calming while helping to slow your heart rate if it’s beating rapidly due to stress or anxiety.

Here’s how to do it: take a deep breath in for the count of four, then hold your breath for the count of two, and release slowly through slightly pursed lips for the count of eight.  The calming breath is also useful if you feel angry or irritated.  It can quickly help calm you down and gain a sense of clarity and control.

You know what else works great for calming your nerves before and after each busy day of your life?  Having heating and cooling systems that don’t give you any added reasons to feel anxious or stressed out.  That’s where we come in:  Precision & Air.  Your complete local resource for HVAC maintenance, repairs, and new system installation.  We can also help improve the quality of your indoor air, a great ally for someone intent on engaging in breathing relaxation exercises. Contact us today for more on how we can improve your indoor living environment.