Ash Wednesday- Filter Change Reminder?

February 18, 2015

Proud to share someone’s interesting analogy of how today, “Ash Wednesday” relates to a furnace filter reminder: “The heating and air conditioning system in our house has 12 inch by 12 inch filters that catch all the crud, preventing it from being sucked into the HVAC unit. I’ve learned that if I hope to keep a clean filter in place, I have to put the replacement of it as a reminder on my calendar. So,every month, my lap top and phone flash this automatic message at me: “Replace HVAC Filter.” I usually look at it and think, “Already?!” Sometimes I ignore it for a few days. But that reminder is important, because it pushes me to do something I really want to do: take good care of my HVAC unit. Haunted by the nudge of the electronic reminder message, I eventually get around to doing what any conscientious homeowner should do: I tell one of my kids to climb on a chair and replace the filters. It’s always surprising to look at those loathsome filters they retrieve from our ceiling. They are disgracefully loaded with gunk. Laden with dusty fuzz. Caked with crud. (You get the idea). It’s kind of...

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St. Louis’ place in air-conditioning history

May 7, 2013

ST. LOUIS • The 1904 World’s Fair in Forest Park helped make the ice cream cone famous. It also introduced to a mass audience another cooling sensation that, oddly, never got much press. The Missouri State Building, the host state’s own exhibition hall, had a large air-conditioning machine in the basement that cooled most of its rooms. The machine operated much like today’s central air-conditioning system in a typical American home — a system that has made oppressive heat such as we’ve seen this year much more bearable. “That was the first time great numbers of ordinary people were exposed to the comfort of air conditioning,” said Bernard Nagengast of Sidney, Ohio. Nagengast, an engineering consultant, said he had studied the history of refrigeration and air conditioning for four decades. He described the contribution of the World’s Fair to interior comfort in an article in 1999 for the ASHRAE Journal, a publication of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers in Atlanta. His evidence is from the pages of an old trade publication, called Ice and Refrigeration, that discussed and explained the system in 1904. “That’s the only detail I have ever been able to find,” he said....

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How to Save Energy and Cut Cooling Costs

April 25, 2013

Overview: Costs and savings Staying cool is expensive. In a hot climate like Texas, the average family spends about $600 a year on cooling. In the Midwest, it’s about $300. But costs vary a lot within regions and even within a single neighborhood. Your home may cost $700 to keep cool while a similar home next door costs half that. This article will help you make your home the low-cost energy leader on the block. Our focus is on cutting cooling costs, but many of these tips will save you money on your heating too. We include upfront costs and payback for each of our tips, but the actual figures depend on your individual house, region, climate, living habits and electric rates. Tip 1: Replace your old air conditioner Photo 1: Buy an efficient air conditioner 1 of 3 Photo 1: Buy an efficient air conditioner Paying higher upfront costs for the most efficient unit possible (SEER 14 or higher) makes sense in hot climates since the initial investment will be paid back in energy savings over time. It makes less sense in cooler climates. « Previous Photo Next Photo » Replacing a 10-year-old window or central AC unit with...

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Get smart about home energy efficiency

February 8, 2013

Did you know as much as half the energy consumed in your home goes to heating and cooling? If you haven’t replaced your HVAC system with a high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR® qualified model, you’re probably spending significantly more on home utility bills—up to 20% more if your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, and up to 15% more if your furnace is more than 15 years old. Here are a few more steps you can take to increase energy efficiency and savings in your home: Close the envelope Insulating and sealing the exterior of your home, often referred to as the “envelope,” can help keep air from leaking into the home from the outside, or vice versa, helping you to save up to $200 per year on home heating and cooling costs. Seal the ducts Duct sealing can save up to $120 per year in coastal areas, and as much as $190 if you’re inland. Install a programmable thermostat An ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat can save you up to $100 per year in coastal areas and over $150 inland. Lennox’ icomfort Wi-Fi Touchscreen Thermostat lets you set your home’s temperature to save energy from anywhere in...

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5 ways to fight cabin fever this winter

February 6, 2013

Feeling a little cooped up inside your home? You might have cabin fever! Lucky for you, we’ve got a few methods to fight off the winter doldrums in the event you find yourself hopelessly home bound: Get outside. It’s that simple: Take a walk, build a snowman, go for a run or sit on the porch. Exposure to sunlight (as little as 15 minutes a day) will boost your levels of Vitamin D and protect against seasonal mood changes. Boost your mood with food. Cabin fever can lead to winter doldrums. Keep your spirits high by eating foods that contain high levels of the amino acid Tryptophan, which our bodies convert to serotonin—a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Examples include: spinach bananas tofu cottage cheese turkey sunflower seeds Cheer up your environment. Add bright colors throughout your home in the form of curtains, pillows, throws and soft furnishings—or even a brightly colored, soft sheet for your bed. Use a scent diffuser to make your home smell of lavender, peppermint or jasmine—essential oils considered to be uplifting. Try growing an indoor plant; it can also help to relieve tension, anxiety and depression while getting rid of stale...

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7 Tips to Prevent the Flu

January 2, 2013

Aaaaaaaaaa-Choooooooo! The dreaded flu season is upon us. Fortunately, the old adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’re gathered a few tips to help you protect your family from the flu this winter: Wash your hands, surfaces and even cleaning supplies. Often. Just 15-20 seconds of hand washing with soap and warm water—or alcohol-based rub—can help protect you from germs. Since human influenza viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, kitchen and bath fixtures should also be scrubbed down regularly. Sterilize cellulose sponges in the dishwasher. Down your vitamin C. Good sources include citrus fruit, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, nuts and kiwi. Supplements can also help shorten the duration of the virus following its onset. Drink plenty of fluids. Proper hydration is essential to a strong immune system and overall health. Water and herbal or flavored teas are the best choice. Avoid alcohol, which may decrease your resistance to viruses. Practice good health daily. Exercise, manage stress, eat healthy food and get plenty of rest. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough. But be sure to use a tissue; touching your eyes, nose and mouth can help germs...

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Prepare your HVAC for winter with preventive maintenance

October 18, 2012

While the changing season provides a great opportunity for homeowners to save on HVAC costs by opening windows and temporarily powering down units, it will soon be time to turn on the heat. Will your system be ready to handle this year’s chill? Regular preventive maintenance, performed twice a year, can help your system keep up with seasonal temperature swings. Plus, it can increase HVAC performance and help you avoid costly emergency repairs—because no one wants to be left without heat in the middle of a snowstorm. While most newer heating systems require little maintenance, a quick tune-up can greatly extend the life of your HVAC equipment, ensuring it always runs at peak efficiency. As always, major furnace maintenance should be handled by a licensed HVAC technician. But there are some steps you can take on your own that can result in a more comfortable winter: Power Down Turn off all power to the unit before performing any maintenance; wait for the blower to stop. Replace Filters Replace air filters at least once every three months. Dirty filters can cause your system to work harder, resulting in lower efficiency. Run a Sound Check Turn your unit on, and check for...

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Give your space the home field advantage

September 24, 2012

The big game’s coming up fast, and you’ve invited a house full. Now it’s time to make sure guests are comfortable, your space is inviting and there’s plenty of food on deck so everyone—including you—can relax and have a good time. We’ve gathered a few pointers to help you jazz up your entertaining space while ensuring every guest is comfortable. Square away the details Make sure your television can be seen from all angles, without any glare from windows. Before sending out invites, check to ensure the game you’re watching is on a channel your television provider airs. If you’re planning on serving pizza during a big game, call ahead and ask how far in advance you will need to order so guests don’t wind up waiting on food when they’re hungry. Finally, stock your freezer with plenty of bags of ice, keep enough cups and plates on hand for food and beverages and buy all food ingredients a few days ahead to avoid last-minute trips to the store. Simplify your party plan Your guests are coming for the party, not because they want to see how clean you keep your home. Choose a signature drink to avoid overbuying beverages,...

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Back to School: Ten ways to give your kids a healthy start

September 7, 2012

It’s that time of the year when long, leisurely summer days give way to the often too busy and chaotic routine of returning to the regular school schedule. Instead of fun in the sun and staying up late, it’s time to shop for school supplies, go to bed early and get ready to buckle down for long nights of homework. Talk about stressful! Here’s how to make sure your kids will get the most out of the new school year, with tips to give them a healthy start and improve opportunities for success both in and out of the classroom. 1) Encourage them to exercise Whether it’s in the morning, after school or even a late night routine, have your kids aim for 20 minutes a day of aerobic exercise at 60% of their estimated maximum heart rate. Studies show exercise can improve mental function by up to 10%. They also indicate improved performance on tests following aerobic exercise, due to its ability to increase attentiveness. 2) Take them for an annual checkup Routine exams and screenings help track your child’s development and identify any potential problems. Vision and hearing tests are essential: Check with your school to find out...

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