Replace filters annually to keep your furnace at peak efficiency.

Enjoy the full potential of your York® product and extend its useful life with these helpful maintenance tips.

Although mechanical heating and cooling equipment is complex, there are some basic preventive maintenance procedures that you can perform to keep your system running at its best. (If your air conditioner or heat pump is more than 10 years old or your furnace is more than 12 years, call your York® Dealer to see how much you can reduce your utility bills with today’s more energy efficient equipment.)

Indoor Air Quality Equipment Maintenance

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for changing (or cleaning) air filters in air handlers/furnaces and other home comfort equipment. Some air cleaners require only an annual filter change, while others need more frequent replacement.
  • Maintaining proper humidity levels can greatly reduce airborne allergens. Make sure pans and coils of humidification/dehumidification unit are clean and free of debris.
  • Regularly clean your return grills to prevent dust and debris from accumulating in ducts and clogging filters.
  • Examine ducts around air handler for holes, loose tape or separated sections that might allow air infiltration.
  • Make sure air system is balanced to avoid negative air pressure from pulling pollens and allergens into home. Consider using a dedicated ventilation system to introduce filtered outside air to create positive pressure with clean air.

Air Handler Maintenance

  • Examine ducts around air handler for holes, loose tape or separated sections that might leak air.
  • Replace your air handler filter once a month to reduce airflow restrictions and wasted energy.

    Air Conditioner Maintenance/Heat Pump Maintenance

    • Clean dust or move objects away from the grates that supply air into each room. Do the same to the large return grate, usually in a hallway, to ensure proper air flow.
    • Clear leaves and debris from the system’s outdoor condenser unit grille. If the interior unit is dirty, contact your contractor to perform a power wash that will not bend the fins of the grille.
    • Examine ducts in attic or crawl space for holes, loose tape or separated sections that might leak air.
    • Trim shrubbery to allow at least two feet of clearance from the unit.
    • Set the thermostat mode to cooling (and heating for heat pumps) to make sure it’s working. Contact the dealer for service if you hear any unusual noises.
    • Replace your air handler filter once a month to reduce airflow restrictions and wasted energy.
    • Make sure condensate line is clear to allow liquid runoff.
    • Set up annual checkup of your system.

    Gas Furnace Maintenance

    • Confirm that the furnace runs completely through a normal cycle from start-up to shut-down. Look at the thermostat reading to confirm that the system shuts off when reaching the high temperature setpoint. (If otherwise, you have a short cycling problem requiring a service call.)
    • Clean dust or move objects away from the grates that supply air into each room and the large return grate, usually in a hallway, to ensure proper air flow.
    • Make sure obstacles are cleared away from the furnace and the safety switch on the furnace door.
    • Check the vent connections for the exhaust pipe and chimney for rust or gaps.
    • Make sure your CO2 monitor is operating properly and that it has fresh batteries.
    • Replace furnace filters annually.

    Tips To Stay Warm And Reduce Energy Costs

    There’s no doubt that heating and cooling your home is the largest energy expense in your home. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for about 56 percent of the energy used in a typical U.S. home, which makes efforts to reduce energy costs that much more important.

    As you heat your home this winter, the experts at the York brand of heating and air conditioning recommend the following:

    • Perform regular maintenance. Clean air filters, seal any duct leaks, make sure registers are clear of obstructions and check your insulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that improper insulation can reduce system efficiency by as much as 30 percent.

    • Hire a qualified technician to inspect and service your home comfort system. The technician will make sure your system is working properly and at peak efficiency. As a rule of thumb, heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces need annual tune-ups, while gas-fired equipment can be serviced every other year.

    • Consider replacing an older, inefficient furnace or heat pump. A knowledgeable technician will be able to recommend a new, more efficient replacement system, such as ENERGY STAR®−qualified equipment that can help save you money on energy bills.

    Efficiency is measured as annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) for furnaces and heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) for heat pumps. The higher the AFUE or HSPF, the more efficient the unit and the less energy it requires to heat your home.

    • Adjust your thermostat. By lowering it just a few degrees in cooler temperatures, you can help your heating system work less to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

    • Think about installing a programmable thermostat. Programming your thermostat to accommodate your family’s time away from home and sleeping schedule will help to ensure that your system is operating only when you need it.

    • Learn more. To learn more about efficient products that can help you conserve energy and save money, or to find a heating and cooling contractor near you, visit www.york.com.

    Capabilities without the complexity. You'll love our Affinity Residential Communicating Control

    York® Affinity™ Residential Communicating Control

    • Phone home to your comfort zone: Download the Intellicomfort™ app for iPhone®, iPad® and Android® mobile devices to connect with the smart thermostat from practically anywhere!
    • Change schedule and programs for one or more homes to reduce energy use while you’re away.
    • Zoning capabilities help you reach the comfort levels you desire in each area of your home.

    Higher Intelligence Revolutionary Affinity™ Residential Communicating Control reaches out and "talks" to every enabled device to ensure all are working together at maximum efficiency.

    Good Housekeeping Seal This model is proud to have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal — a nearly century-old symbol of quality and trust.

    Feeling Friendly The iPhone®, iPad® or Android® mobile screen of the thermostat in your hand looks like the smart thermostat on your wall to make checkups and changes fast and easy.

    Our Affinity packaged units come in an all-in-one cabinet for major space savings!

    York® Packaged Units

    A York® packaged home heating and cooling unit can meet all of your comfort needs while saving you money. Look to our large lineup of efficient heating and cooling units to fit your price and performance needs: From our economical Latitude™ Series to the ultra energy-efficient Affinity™ Series models.

    Factors to Consider in a Packaged Unit

    Efficiency

    To help you compare home heating and cooling units, efficiency is rated by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) for cooling, Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) for furnaces and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) for heat pumps with high numbers indicating high efficiency.
    Play Video.

    Space Savings

    To help save space, a packaged home heating and cooling unit integrates your system components in one compact cabinet.

    Affinity™ Series Packaged Heating and Cooling Units

    Affinity™ Series packaged units come in an all-in-one space saving cabinet and are available in ENERGY STAR® qualified models that offer at least 15% to 25% higher energy efficiency than standard models. Learn more about Affinity™ packaged units.

    Latitude™ Series Packaged Heating and Cooling Units

    Latitude™ Series packaged units let you choose heat pump or air conditioning models in an all-in-one space saving cabinet. Learn more about Latitude™ packaged units.

    Save money, save the planet by making your home energy efficient

    Saving energy is great, but so is saving money.

    The best tools and tips can offer both, according to local businesses, whose lines of energy-efficient products and services are expanding to meet demand for saving green and leaving smaller carbon footprints.

    For local homeowners looking to make major investments, changes to greener living often are motivated by long-term financial stability, said Jason Grottini, operations director at Envinity Inc. in State College.

    “For most, it has a lot to do with comfort, investing in a house they know they will be in for a long time,” he said. “There are a lot of people motivated by minimizing their impact on climate change or costs, too. They don’t want to have to worry every winter about their heating bill. It’s a way to stabilize their cash flow.”

    The design-build firm creates greener homes from blueprint to finished product, incorporating advanced building envelopes, high-efficiency mechanical systems and passive solar energy, a technique that positions a home and landscaping to collect the greatest natural benefits of sunshine through trees and shrubbery that are bare in winter and offer shade in summer.

    “We build all our homes to exceed Energy Star standards for a new home — above and beyond insulation requirements,” he said. “Energy Star is just slightly above modern code requirements. Building to those standards should be the energy norm.”

    For homeowners who are not building or remodeling but still want to find ways to save, Grottini said that an energy audit is a useful first step — and energy savings may be closer than they think.

    “It is the smallest investment you can make, but it gives everybody a capital improvement plan for their house,” he said. “It will outline all the other investments they can make and identifies all the opportunities to reduce energy usage.”

    Changes can range from free or low-cost measures — turning thermostats down or plugging in holes in an attic — to bigger impact changes, such as improving air sealing and insulation.

    “Replacing heating and cooling equipment with high-efficiency equipment is a next step,” he said. “We’re trying to get people off oil and propane as a standard service. Those prices are too volatile for people on fixed energy budgets.

    Once those changes are accomplished, it can be time to consider renewable energy sources, such as solar, he said.

    “That’s our path to getting people to net zero energy,” Grottini said.

    The company also is installing geothermal or insular radiant systems — with a hot water loop under the slab of the home — and combining that with passive solar to create a higher-efficiency system overall.

    The push toward solar panels has slowed, Grottini said, but still can offer a long-term return on investment.

    “Solar has definitely slowed down in Pennsylvania, but we’re still installing one system every month or two,” he said. “It has a lot to do with economics. The price has come down dramatically. The incentives like the state’s rebate program have gone away, and the renewable energy credit market has dwindled.”

    A 30 percent federal tax credit for homeowners still is a good selling point, he said.

    Return on investment for solar is in the 12- to 15-year range — still worth considering because the systems have a 25-year warranty.

    High-efficiency windows can help make the most of natural light, too, if solar panels aren’t in the budget, said Dave Hannon, a 16-year sales rep for the State College office of Pella Window & Door Co., which in 2008 was Energy Star partner of the year for window manufacturing.

    “About 70 percent of the people who are after replacement windows and doors are after a marked improvement in energy efficiency,” he said. “The others are more concerned about aesthetic.”

    For homes built before 1979, return on investment with new windows could be realized more quickly because those older windows usually are single-pane glass or double pane without the current manufacturing standards, Hannon said. Pella’s offerings now are triple-pane and available in wood, vinyl and fiberglass, which can offer the tightest seal for the Pennsylvania climate.

    “I would expect people who replace their windows and doors now from that time period, that it would be a less than a 10-year return on investment,” he said. “I hear of people with $600 or $800 gas bills. I won’t say it cuts it in half, but it’s a double-digit saving.”

    When it comes to appliances, Energy Star is more standard than standout nowadays, said Eric Walker, store manager of the Home Depot in Patton Township. Most products get more energy efficient each year and prices have started to normalize, he said.

    “I don’t think there’s a differentiation between manufacturers,” he said. “Very common large company manufacturers hold themselves to a higher standard. When you find off-brand names, you see quality decrease and efficiency decrease.”

    Heat sources often offer the greatest impact — if a budget allows for one household switch, he said.

    “The efficiency ratings of HVAC units now are so much better,” he said. “Once you’re to the tune of 10 to 15 years old — and you choose to replace that — the efficiency has increased so much that the unit can pay itself off in four to five years just in savings, for each type: oil, gas or electrical. If you buy a new boiler for $7,000 to replace one that is 10 or 15 years old, it can save you that in four to five years.”

    Pellet stoves still are among the hottest commodity, Walker said.

    “Pellet stoves have been an exploding market in the last three to four years,” he said. “People are buying those to augment their primary heat source, but then those become the primary source. We see that a lot.”

    In fall, pellet stove installations rival LED purchases, he said.

    “I think right now, most homeowners are interested in the cost savings of what they’re purchasing versus carbon footprint, but you get both benefits with pellet fuel,” Walker said.

    And more homeowners are catching on to another new potential energy-saver, Wink, a program that allows up to 30 household items to communicate through wireless technology.

    The product can be connected to thermostats and allow consumers to control their homes’ temperatures from their cellphones.

    “If you were pretty conscientious, it could pay for itself in two to three months,” Walker said.

    Similar to better appliances, consumer demand has changed paint products.

    “Almost every paint we carry is a low (volatile organic compound) mixture,” he said. “It was constantly requested by the consumer, who wanted the safest paint out there, especially when there were only one or two lines of paint like that. It was a selling point. It’s great to see these sort of things become industry standards.”

    Low-flow toilets make an easy conservation step, said Barry Noll, plumbing specialist at Lowe’s in Patton Township. One model uses about 1.28 gallons per flush, compared to the standard 1.6. Overall savings vary, of course, by the number of family members in a home and flushing frequency.

    “They are all in the same relative range,” he said. “They’re not astronomically different, so it can be a good choice when you’re looking for a new toilet anyway. Aside from water saving, it saves you money on your utility bill.”

    Simple — or elaborate — lighting changes can cut costs and help homeowners conserve, said Carla Reck, lighting designer in the lighting design center Friedman Electric, which has a location in State College.

    “The basic things are dimmers and timers,” she said. “By changing how you control the lights, you can save some energy in how much you are using or in how much is running. That’s something you can do that with your light sources now.”

    If cost is an issue, switching to LED in one area at a time can help make the expense more palatable, she said.

    “Instead of the whole house, start in rooms where you get a lot of use,” Reck said. “If you’re using a 14-watt LED, you are getting approximately the same as you would with what would have been a 60- or 75-watt incandescent bulb. That’s pretty significant.”

    Some energy companies still are offering rebates to make the switch, too, she said.

    The cost for an LED bulb can run around $35, compared to around $1.25 for an incandescent bulb, but energy expenses for the pricier items over a 50,000 hour period can shrink by more than 75 percent, according to an estimate at eartheasy.com.

    For families who are not ready to make a major switch but want to be more environmentally friendly, many look to kitchen scraps as a great place to start, according to the Penn State Extension’s Master Gardeners of Centre County, who work to educate the public on composting.

    Worm bins — vermicomposting — require regular attention, said Master Gardener Suzann Tedesco, who often recommends simply taking those composting efforts outdoors.

    “If you look up indoor composting online, most sites just talk about collecting kitchen scraps for transfer to outdoor compost piles,” she said. “That is what I teach when giving a workshop. Even during the winter, things can be added to the pile to await warmer weather when the micro-organisms get back to work breaking down the organic material.”

    Still, she does handle questions on vermicomposting.

    “Many show an interest in vermicomposting, especially as something to do with their children,” she said. “However, I have no idea if many really do it. With the borough green recycling program, many kitchen scraps in State College are going into the green bins to be picked up curbside.”

    Recycling is another area where families can do better — even if they already are filling bins, according to Amy Schirf, education coordinator at the Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority.

    Though the authority’s crews sort material in the red bins, paper can be problematic. In Centre County, homeowners can recycle all mixed paper: newspaper, tissue boxes, cereal boxes, junk mail or office paper.

    “We really like for them to either bag or tie up their paper,” she said. “It’s actually for the safety of our guys.”

    Homeowners sometimes forget to look outside the kitchen, too, Schirf added.

    “Things like laundry detergent bottles, shampoo and conditioner bottles sometimes are overlooked,” she said. “A lot of times, people would go by the number — only ones and twos. Now we say if it’s a narrow neck plastic bottle or jug, we’ll take it. We don’t really care about the numbers anymore.”

    Another change: It’s not just plastic bags that can go back to the grocery store. Abagslife.com offers tips and locations for dropping off non-container plastic items.

    “Any kind of plastic film, if it’s clean and dry, can go,” she said. “You don’t realize how much you have until you actually start collecting it.”


    Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2014/09/14/4346672_save-money-save-the-planet-by.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

    How to improve indoor air quality in your home

    With winter on the horizon, homeowners are pre-paring their homes for a season with far more time spent indoors. Unlike the other seasons of the year, when homeowners can comfortably air out their homes by opening windows, cool autumns and cold winters offer no such opportunities to let nature improve indoor air quality.

    Such a reality can make a home feel stuffy and uncomfortable as winter drags on. But that pales in comparison to the health risks presented by poor indoor air quality. Radon, volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners and lead from house dust are just a few of the many sources of indoor air pollution commonly found in homes, and these pollutants can be especially harmful in winter, when many people spend more time indoors thanks to chilly weather.

    While you might not be able to change the weather so you can open windows in fall and winter, you can take steps to improve indoor air quality in your home.

    • Clean the floors regularly. Dirty floors take their toll on a home’s indoor air quality. Dust that’s allowed to settle on floors may contain harmful chemicals and allergens that can lead to respiratory problems and unhealthy conditions. Clean your floors at least once per week during the winter months, ideally with a vacuum that’s equipped with a HEPA filter. The HEPA filter is important because it can prevent dust and dirt from being blown back out of the vacuum in the exhaust. After you have vacuumed, mop the floors as well, as even the most effective vacuums leave potentially harmful dust particles behind. A once-over with a mop and some hot water can remove any lingering dust left behind by the vacuum.

    • Place a floor mat near every entrance. Autumn and winter rains make for a messy time of year, and it’s easy to bring in the great outdoors when you enter your home during cold weather seasons. Dirt that sticks to your shoes may contain potentially harmful chemicals, so place a floor mat near any door where people routinely enter your home and politely ask that all who enter wipe off or even remove their shoes before moving about the house.

    • Choose naturally scented laundry products. Everyone wants their freshly cleaned clothes to smell good, but the price you pay when using laundry products that employ synthetic fragrances may be far steeper than you realize. Such synthetic fragrances emit dozens of chemicals into the air, so choose naturally scented detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets when possible.

    • Avoid plug-in air fresheners. Unless otherwise noted on the packaging, plug-in air fresheners likely contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which contain a variety of chemicals that can negatively impact both short- and long-term health. Instead of plugging in an air freshener to improve a home’s interior aroma, slice fresh lemons and leave them out in the kitchen and keep fresh indoor plants in living areas. Studies from NASA have shown that indoor plants naturally purify indoor air by absorbing materials released by synthetic materials.

    As winter gets set to return, homeowners can employ several simple strategies to improve indoor air quality in their homes.

    Prevent your heating bills from going through the roof

    Heating your home can be a costly endeavor. But you don’t have to make your family suffer in shivering silence to save some money. There are plenty of steps you can take to optimize your heating efforts, as well as prep your home for several months of cool weather.

    • Check and maintain your insulation. Improperly insulated walls, floors, attics, basements and crawl spaces drain away heat and can encourage mold and mildew.

    • Add weather stripping and caulk around windows and doors to prevent drafts which waste energy and money.

    • Install a programmable thermostat that shuts itself off during the day when you're away and at night when you're asleep. This will keep you comfortable when you're home and save you money when you're not.

    • Keep vents and returns free of obstructions. Don't lay carpet over vents, place furniture over or in front of them or obstruct the flow of air.

    • Keep your air filters clean. Check them every couple of weeks and change them as directed by the manufacturer.

    • Let the sun shine in by opening curtains on cold days. Get heavy drapes to keep things cozy at night.

    • Review last year's energy bills. If your heating costs are drastically higher this year, a qualified HVAC/R technician may be able to diagnose the problem. Schedule such inspections twice annually, even if you aren’t experiencing any detectable issues.

    • When choosing a contractor for installation or maintenance, important factors must be taken into consideration. A qualified HVAC/R technician is a skilled professional with proven knowledge who has passed specialized tests. So look for a technician certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the nation's largest independent non-profit certification body for HVAC/R technicians.

    • Even the most eco-friendly, high-efficiency products and appliances can waste money and energy if they're not installed, serviced, and maintained properly. Work with certified technicians to ensure your HVAC/R equipment is delivering on its promised energy efficiency.

    • Consider alternatives to conventional heating. For example, geothermal heating systems use the earth’s natural heat and are among the most efficient and energy-conserving heating technologies currently available.

    • Replacing your system? Purchase equipment with an ENERGY STAR label. High-efficiency systems reduce your impact on the environment and can also save you money. You may also be eligible for a Federal Tax Credit. Check with your local NATE contractor to determine qualifying models. Also, for optimal performance be sure to select the proper size system for your home.

    Get Your Home Ready for Winter

    As we get closer to the Winter months, now is the time to do a few things to get your home ready. If you have plants and animals outdoors, don’t forget to prepare their areas too. Below are a few tips and suggestions.

    Furnaces should be serviced by a licensed specialist. Actually you should get your Units checked twice a year, once prior to the cold weather and once prior to the hot weather. They might need cleaning. If you have an indoor fireplace, you might want to clean it and prepare it for upcoming fires. If you have a gas starter in your fireplace, have it serviced too. If you have not had your chimney checked, you might want to have it checked out and/or cleaned.

    Windows sometimes feel drafty? You might need to reseal them or even replace them. If they are really old, this is going to be more difficult, but a little caulking might help. Replacing windows with highly energy efficient ones will definitely help, but replacements are costly so you might have to budget for this. Most are double pane and insulated.

    Ceiling fans need to be reversed if possible. In the winter mode, they draw air up, verses pushing air down for the summer.

    Alarms should be on your check list too. Make sure the batteries are good. Test them per their instructions.

    Additional insulation in your home can always help with heat and cold. If you have a poorly insulated home, it will get colder quicker. Have a local builder or handy person check this out or call an insulation company.

    Now for protecting the three P’s we always hear on the news. Protecting your Pipes, Plants, and Pets. Here’s some ideas.

    Wrap those pipes outside. There are devices at local stores that help insulate the facets too. Pumps in pump houses should be protected also. Insulate the pump house. Drain garden hoses.

    Finally protect those outdoor plants. Build a green house, move them to a warmer area, build a cover for them, or use protective covering on those really freezing nights. And dear to my heart, protect your pets. Bring your pets indoors, build them a nice warm shelter, or provide heat lamps in a confined area.

    Just a few tips to prepare for the up coming winter. Let’s hope the cool weather gets here soon, just not too cold!

    What is a Heat Pump and is it Right for You?

    Ground Source Heat Pumps, more commonly referred to as geothermal heat pumps, are one of the most talked about heating and cooling systems in the consumer market today.

    Consumers are excited about the incredible energy savings that can be had by installing one of the most efficient heat pumps on the market.

    The problem, you ask? Most contractors and homeowners don’t understand this new technology and the benefits they can get by installing geothermal. Some history of the technology and some tips can help you select the right contractor for the job.

    Ground source heat pumps have existed for more than 60 years. There is a myth of it being a new technology, but the truth is, it is just misunderstood. Some HVAC contractors just choose to not install them for fear of how they actually work, or don’t have the knowledge to design it.

    These systems can achieve energy efficiency ratios (EER) of 41, and a coefficient of performance (COP) of 5.3. The higher the numbers the less money you spend running it, similar to the gas MPG of your vehicles.

    Air source heat pumps cannot reach 50% of that efficiency and don’t perform well when the temps drop in the single digits. The rate of return on most ground source heat pumps is three to 10 years or sooner with the benefit of tax incentives or power company rebates. These rebates change yearly so be sure to research these costs as they can save you thousands off the initial investment.

    The key to selecting the right contractor for your ground source heat pump is to make sure they are designing the system properly. If designed improperly, the expected energy savings may not be attained.

    Make sure the installing contractor does, at a minimum, the calculations called: Manual J and Manual D. Manual J is a calculation which determines the heating and cooling loads on your home based off your homes orientation, outdoor design temperatures, R-Values of the building shell, interior loads, and window performance.

    Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor for a copy of this Manual J load calculation report. If your contractor doesn’t ask questions about those design values, they may not be sizing it correctly.

    Manual D takes the design a step further and designs the ductwork for optimum velocities and pressures needed for correct air delivery. This is calculated by using design parameters from the equipment’s blower performance charts and pressure drops on the duct system. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor for a copy of the Manual D calculation report.

    The final crucial step for a high performing geothermal system is to ensure the water loop field is designed correctly. Your contractor designing the well systems must research and understand soil types and the ability of the soil to transfer energy. Rock and clay type soils hold more energy therefore the loops may be shorter. Sandy soils absorb less energy therefore your loop field will need to be deeper or more loops may be added.

    If done right on new construction, geothermal systems can reduce the HERS score by up to 25 points. With current tax incentives and rebates, they typically cost $4,000-$6,000 more than a high performing standard system can pay for themselves in less than five years.

    Fall Furnace and Home Inspections Tips for Energy Awareness Month Keep heating costs down and stay safe with tips from Aire Serv®

    October is Energy Awareness Month and Aire Serv has items every homeowner should check to make sure the furnace and home is ready to handle the colder months of fall and winter. Checking these components will let homeowners know if they need to contact a licensed HVAC technician for further inspection, repair or replacement.

    Inspect the ventilation system
    Check the ventilation and ductwork for any holes or cracks that may have occurred over time. Homeowners should also inspect to make sure the ventilation is properly secured to the home. A fall furnace maintenance check is also a good time to clean the vents and registers.

    Visually go over panel controls and switches
    A professional HVAC technician should be contacted for an in-depth inspection of the control panel and switches of the furnace. But, homeowners can do a general inspection of the controls and switches to check for loose connections, corrosion and parts that look damaged.

    Check carbon monoxide detectors
    Before operating the furnace for the fall and winter months, check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are in proper working order. Always put fresh batteries in them and, if possible, test the alarms. It is a good idea to have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in all the bedrooms of the home.

    "It is important to remember that the best way to conserve energy is to have a system that is up to date," said Harvey Multer, owner of Aire Serv of Southern Maine. "October is a great month to start thinking about saving money during the colder months and there are many general maintenance inspections homeowners can do to save on energy during those months."

    Inspect fan belts and pulley systems
    Though a licensed HVAC technician should do the repairs for fan belts and pulleys, homeowners can visually inspect them to make sure they are not dry, cracked or loose. A loud squeaking sound during start up or operation may indicate the belts or pulleys need to be replaced.

    Keep debris away from the furnace
    There should be unobstructed access to the furnace. When inspecting the furnace for fall and winter use, make sure to remove any objects or debris close to the system. Objects left too close to the furnace can be a fire hazard.

    "When inspecting the furnace before use and notice anything that might be a concern, contact an HVAC professional," said Multer. "Service professionals will be able to tell you if the problem requires immediate attention."

    Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/10/prweb12215896.htm

    How to reduce heating costs and avoid furnace scams

    Winterizing your home doesn’t have to be expensive, according to the  Connecticut Better Business Bureau.

    While the installation of energy-efficient windows and doors and adding insulation can significantly bring down heat loss during cold months, there are also small fixes that can help reduce energy consumption.

    A common winterizing checklist includes:

    • Changing air filters.
    • Installing or re-installing storm windows in the attic to stop warm air from leaking.
    • Clearing gutters to remove debris that could cause rainwater to freeze and damage them.
    • Cleaning ridge vents to allow your house to “breathe.”
    • Putting insulation film over windows to reduce drafts.
    • Inspecting weather stripping for cracks and peeling.
    • Installing a tight-fitting fireplace door or cover to stop the loss of heat through the chimney.

    Another way to keep heating bills under control is to compare electricity wholesalers’ prices at energizect.com and select a plan before demand and the cost of electricity increase.

    State lawmakers have put into place safeguards to stop wholesalers from the past practices of enticing consumers with a low introductory price, and then hitting them with a significant increase without advance notification.

    Consumers who can afford to may pre-purchase heating oil to prevent being subjected to market fluctuations. The cost of heating oil may drop during a mild winter; however, heating oil prices typically rise at this time of year as demand increases. BBB recommends consumers research heating oil suppliers in advance, to ensure they are dealing with a reputable business with an established track record.

    Furnace maintenance

    A dirty furnace is less efficient, so an annual inspection and cleaning is recommended.

    This can also help spot potential problems that can end up leaving your family in the cold if your heating system breaks down.

    However, if you are told you need a new furnace, get a second opinion and bid. Some unscrupulous operators attempt to deceive customers, by telling them that there are potentially dangerous problems with their furnace, and that it is unsafe to use.

    Nonetheless, a damaged or dirty furnace can emit dangerous fumes. Signs of failure include soot on countertops and vents, and inefficient heating. Fumes also may cause watery eyes, a runny nose and headaches. In such cases, it is best to turn off the furnace and consult an expert.

    BBB also recommends the following to winterize your home:

    Plug holes. The average American home may have many small air leaks. Though they may not be large, they have a cumulative effect on home heating costs. Make sure windows close tightly. Check for leaks around them and use caulking to plug the leaks.

    Consider insulating heating ducts. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that a centrally heated home can lose as much as 60% of warmed air before it reaches vents if the duct work is poorly connected or not insulated, or if it travels through unheated spaces.

    Get a chimney checkup. Before lighting the first fire of the season, your chimney should be checked for animals, nests, leaves, and other debris, as well as for any necessary repairs. Select a reputable business or professional, rather than responding to solicitations.

    For additional consumer tips, and to research or select professionals you can trust, visit bbb.org.

    Propane Supplies Higher Than Last Year

    The chilly weekend may have had you flipping on the furnace, but if you rely on propane to heat your home, experts say now is the time to plan for winter.

    The Illinois Propane Gas Association says it's in better shape than this time last year with about 20 percent more propane on hand, this time around.

    But experts say that could all change based on how often people run their furnaces, and if another so-called "polar vortex" hits.

    For now, experts are advising you to contact suppliers and make a plan now, so you can budget in case there's another shortage this winter.

    "There are several different payment plans, but I've talked to one marketer that says they've written more contracts this year than they have in past years so people are going out and they're buying...they're ahead from where they was last year," said John Tibbs of the Illinois Propane Gas Association.

    Although farmers have been battling a wet start to harvest, experts tell us propane use for grain drying is down almost 40 percent this year.

    Heating appliance safety tips

    At this time of year, as the nights start to get cold, it is not uncommon for heater and furnace related fire incidents to occur. It is important for people to be aware that heating equipment may operate automatically, according to a recent press release from Humboldt Bay Fire.

    Often occupants think a furnace has been turned off because they have adjusted the thermostat to the lowest setting. This does not turn the furnace off; rather the furnace is set to a low temperature setting. When the temperature gets cold, the furnace activates.

    Humboldt Bay Fire would like to remind everyone to be cautious when using any type of heating appliance, and to recognize the features of thermostat controlled furnaces.

    Some safety tips that apply to all types of heating appliances:

    • Do not place floor coverings, clothing, or furniture over floor furnaces.

    • Move combustibles away from floor and wall furnaces. This includes furniture.

    • Have your furnace cleaned and serviced to ensure safe and efficient operation.

    • Inspect the walls and ceiling near the furnace or heater; if the wall is hot to the touch or discolored, discontinue use immediately, and have the appliance checked.

    • If you heat with wood, move combustibles at least 36" away from the stove or fireplace. Again, this applies to furniture as well.

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    • Never discard hot ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house or other buildings.

    • Have your stove pipe, chimney, or flue cleaned and inspected prior to use.

    Humboldt Bay Fire is hoping to avoid furnace, heater, and wood stove fires this year and in the future by reminding communities of these steps to help make the use of such appliances safe.

    With temperatures dipping, try these tips before cranking up the heat

    It's the change of the season and Pittsburghers are starting to see some chilly temperatures settling in. With overnight temperatures dipping into the 40s, some have already resorted to turning on the furnace.

    VIDEO: Watch Ashley Dougherty's report

    "Actually, we have, believe it or not, yes I have. That's ridiculous, it's only September,” said resident Julia Macellino.

    "She's freezing and I'm constantly hot, so it ends up being a battle every year. Actually, we've been sleeping with the windows open and letting the nice fall air into the house,” said Dave Diehl.

    It's hard to believe it's already that time of year, but there are some things residents should do before cranking up the heat.

    "You want to make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors, and if you do have them, you want to change the batteries or hit the test button to make sure it's working before you turn anything on, because that's a huge safety issue,” said Tudi Home Services residential manager Rich Riva.

    It's important to get furnaces checked at least once a year because dust and even stink bugs can settle inside.

    "Get your maintenance done before you turn it on. That's a good thing -- also, because what we are going to do is we are going to check some safeties. There are gas valve safeties, there are pressure switches, maybe the stink bugs got into the intake and not allowing it to run. The big thing is there are limits in here. That's everything that's going to keep you safe while we are creating a fire in your home," said Riva.

    For more information on Tudi's charity event, Heat for the Needy, visit heatfortheneedy.com.

    What you should know before turning on your furnace

    It’s the news many are dreading. Cooler weather is making its way to the Wabash Valley, with low’s expecting to drop to the 30’s this weekend.

    You may be considering turning on your furnace for the first time this season.

    John Bays has been fixing furnaces for thirty years, and he is already gearing up for the frigid winter months.

    “We’ve even had a couple of no heat calls already when we hit the fifties,” said Bays, Owner of Bays Heating and Cooling in Terre Haute.

    Unfortunately, it will only get worse; with cold weather quickly approaching bays has some tips for homeowners.

    “Before it really gets cold they ought to turn it on a couple of times and make sure it will get your house to temperature.”

    But before cranking the heat make sure you change the filter.

    On a standard furnace it’s a task that should be done at least once a month.

    “The worst thing it can do on a gas furnace is actually bust the heat exchanger which is the heart and soul of the furnace,” said Bays.

    When in doubt call a technician.

    “Gas is even more critical than electric to make sure that it’s burning correctly, and the other thing is to make sure it’s completely safe for your family.”

    It’s this time of year when the fire department also reports an increase in calls.

    “Some dangers are gas leaks in your furnace, and fireplaces. Make sure the chimney is cleaned out because they have a lot of build up that could cause a fire too,” said Jeff Fisher, with the Terre Haute Fire Department.

    Fisher said the best way to prevent falling victim to carbon monoxide poisoning is simple.

    “I recommend that everybody have a carbon monoxide detector in their house.”

    It’s all part of a routine that will save you money while ensuring your safety.

    “A little thing as simple as a plugged filter, a real minor problem when it gets cold and is running a lot can turn into something major,” said Bays.

    It is recommended you have a technician look at your furnace at least once a year.

    Tips to keep those heating bills down

    Cold temperatures are already getting a lot of people thinking about keeping down heating costs this Winter. Here's a few tips on saving. 

     
    Keep your thermostat a little cooler than normal, especially at night. You should also cover drafty doors and windows, change your furnace filters and weather-strip leaky areas.
     
    A WE Energies spokesperson says there's another way to manage those costs. 
     
    "We also have a budget bill option where people can have their average energy use spread out over the course of 12 months so that you don't have those peaks and valleys," says spokesperson Jess.
     

    You can expect to pay another few dollars a month starting in January. WE Energies is hiking its rates to pay for system upgrades.

    Hot tips for furnace tune-ups

    September is National Furnace Tune-up Month. After last week's shot of cold and snow, this period of warmer and dry weather might be the perfect time to think winterizing and giving the furnace a once-over.

    Homeowners should remove any dust and debris located near the pilot light. Combustible material should never be stored near pilot lights or heat sources and should be in approved containers.

    Check to make sure things did not get stacked up over the summer months around the furnace.

    Air filters should be changed on a regular basis. The typical home should have the air filters changed every 60 to 90 days, and maybe you let yours slide at the end of last winter.

    It is good to change and inspect the air filter when the season changes. Homeowners with special respiratory needs or pets need to ensure they get the right filter for their HVAC system.

    Air ducts need to be inspected for any general maintenance issues that may have occurred over the summer. They should also be thoroughly cleaned before using the heater.

    Homeowners should also have ducts checked for proper sealing. If ducts are not sealed properly heat loss can occur causing the system to work harder and raising the utility bill.

    Keep winter energy bills in check

    As temperatures drop, the potential for higher utility bills goes up. Taking steps ahead of the cold season can help you trim costs and make your home more energy efficient, keeping those utility bills in check even as the winter weather rages.

    “Many homeowners just assume the winter season means their bills will go up as systems work harder to keep their home regulated,” said Francois Lebrasseur, marketing manager of water products for GE Appliances. “In reality, there are many steps one can take to improve energy efficiency and minimize the added expense that comes with extreme winter temperatures.”

    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity costs are on the rise. Before winter weather sets in, take some time to assess your home for potential problem areas and improvements that can help lower your energy costs.

    Lighting. Though turning off unneeded lights is a smart strategy any time of year, it’s especially helpful during the winter months when utility expenses can add up. New technology lets you manage your lights away from home — handy if you’re gone for the day and realize lights were left on. Energy-efficient LED lights can also come in handy if you’re away from home for an extended period or traveling over the holidays, as you can turn specific lights on to give the appearance that someone is home so you can vacation worry-free.

    Water heaters. Heat isn’t the only system that gets an extra workout come winter. Cooler house temperatures may require water heaters to work harder, so ensuring you have a model well-suited to your family’s year-round needs is key. In fact, heating water is the second source of energy use in the residential home after space heating and cooling, with standard electric water heaters costing the average homeowner $585 every year to operate.

    Thermostat. A programmable thermostat is easy to install and saves energy (and money) by automatically adjusting to pre-determined temperature settings. This allows you to drop the temperature during the day when no one is home, but have a comfortable environment ready when you arrive home from work each day. Depending on the model you choose, you can select numerous settings to adjust your indoor climate for various days to fit your lifestyle patterns. According to Energy Star, when used properly, a programmable thermostat can save as much as $150 a year in energy costs.

    Air leaks. An airtight house is critical to managing your heat-related expenses. You take time to close windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping, but that’s only half the battle. Sealing cracks around those windows and doors, and other leak-prone areas such as the basement and attic, will help keep heat inside and costs down.

    Service man offers tips before you turn on your furnace

    You may soon be considering turning on your furnace for the first time this season.

    Mark Sullivan has been fixing furnaces for 25 years with the Geisler Brothers Company in Dubuque. He said the company is gearing up for the cold, winter months.

    "The first real snap of the cold is when everyone calls and the lists just starts to pile up rather quickly," said Sullivan.

    As the cold weather is approaching, Sullivan said he has some tips for homeowners before they turn on their furnace for the first time this season.

    He recommends homeowners make sure your filters are clean and make sure to replace them every couple of months. Sullivan said if you have smaller furnace filters, he recommends replacing them every month. He said those who have larger and thicker furnace filters can get by with replacing them at least twice a year.

    Sullivan also recommends homeowners make sure furnace pipes are not blocked by any leaves of snow.

    "If they have a 90 percent efficiency furnaces make sure those pipes are not being blocked by piles of leaves, snow during the winter, and things that may have gotten shifted during the summer months," said Sullivan.

    He also recommends you have your furnace looked at by a professional at least once a year.

    Carbon Monoxide poisoning can also be caused by a carbon monoxide leak in a gas appliance, Sullivan recommends all homeowners have a carbon monoxide detector and get your gas appliances checked as soon as possible if you believe your home has carbon monoxide poisoning.

    "If you're waking up with headaches from morning to morning that go away when you leave, by all means have someone come and check out your gas appliances," said Sullivan.

    Furnace Safety Tips

    Whether you’ve turned on your heat already or you’re still waiting, there are few steps everyone should take to keep your home safe.

    Dave Osborn, the president of Trouble Free, Inc. in Pekin said they're staying busy checking furnaces and furnace filters.

    Osborn said changing your furnace filter should be the first thing you do before turning on your heat. However, adding a clean furnace filter isn't the only way to make sure you're staying safe while keeping your home warm.

    “We go up inside of the heat exchanger with a camera and we check the inside of the heat exchanger to make sure that there's no holes or cracks in that heat exchanger,” said Osborn, “If there is holes and cracks in that heat exchanger it gives the potential for getting carbon monoxide in the house.”

    Osborn also recommends that you keep your vents open in your home because closing them off home can cause the heat to back up and destroy the furnace.