Stay Warm, Reduce Energy Costs This Winter

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

In a previous blog, we introduced energy-saving ideas to help keep your home cozy even on those blustery days. Since the weather outside is sure to gradually become frightful, we thought now would be a good time to offer new suggestions and reintroduce valuable tips to stay warm and reduce energy costs this winter.

Adjust Your Thermostat

When you’re asleep or away from home, turn down the thermostat to save energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, setting your thermostat seven to 10 degrees lower for eight hours can save as much as 10 percent on your heating bill.

Additionally, you can keep the thermostat slightly lower even when you’re awake by adding another layer of clothing. Grab a hoodie or a thick pair of socks and stay comfortable without having to crank up the heat.

Execute General Maintenance

Scheduling an annual tune up for your furnace will keep things running smoothly and efficiently. A system that’s well cared for will run better and last longer, saving you time, headaches, and money.

Between tune-up appointments, be sure to check and change the air filter. A clogged filter causes the furnace to run less efficiently and work harder to push air through, leading to undue wear and tear. This simple task also helps prevent operational issues and extends the life of your furnace.

Protect Your Water Heater

The water heater accounts for about 17 percent of energy usage. Insulating unit will help it run more efficiently, reduce heat loss, and keep costs down.

Check the Flooring

If you have tile or hardwood flooring, an easy way to save energy during the winter is to throw down a rug. That extra layer of insulation traps cold air underneath, keeping your home (and your feet) warmer while keeping energy use low.

Also, check to make sure the heat vents are clear and clean. Furniture, drapery, and debris can block the flow of heat coming from the vents. Unobstructed vents help keep warm air flowing and your furnace running at regular intervals.

Use the Sun’s Power

Give your furnace a break and take advantage of the sun’s warmth to help heat your home during the day. Open the blinds or curtains to let in some sun – and the heat. Your home will be toasty without your furnace doing any extra work. Just be sure to close the drapes as nightfall sets, to help keep that warm air from escaping.

Swap Out Light Bulbs

LED bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. Swap out your old bulbs for LEDs this winter and watch the energy savings add up.

Block Out Cold Drafts

Installing storm windows over the existing windows can help seal off drafts, keeping the cold air out of your warm home. Otherwise, try shutting out cold drafts with a window insulation kit. Adding a thin layer of plastic film can help the house feel warmer and save up to 15 percent on energy bills.

Trust the Team at WestAir

The full-service team at WestAir Heating & Cooling is here to help you stay warm and reduce energy costs this winter. We provide high quality heating (and cooling) systems and solutions all year round as well as preventative maintenance to keep those systems running effectively and efficiently. Contact our knowledgeable experts today with your winter heating questions or to schedule service.

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7 Tips for Extending the Lifespan of HVAC Equipment

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Woman setting her programmable thermostat - a great investment for extending the lifespan of HVAC equipment.

When it comes to weather, Minnesota is a place of extremes. Our harsh, bitterly cold winters and hot, humid summer days make a functioning furnace and air conditioner crucial to a comfy home. Follow these tips for extending the lifespan of HVAC equipment to get the most out of your system.

Schedule Preventative Maintenance Twice Annually

Have your system professionally serviced before each heating and cooling season for a thorough tune-up, cleaning, and maintenance service to ensure peak performance and efficiency. Your technician will also catch minor issues to prevent costly repairs later on, as well as help you decide if it’s better to repair or replace.

But don’t wait for maintenance service or a total breakdown to have your system inspected. If you notice strange sounds or smells, decreased efficiency or performance, or any other warning signs, call your local HVAC professionals to diagnose and repair the issue before it gets worse.

Have Ductwork Professionally Cleaned Every Other Year

Dirt, dust, pollen, and other debris naturally settle inside your ductwork over time. This buildup not only impacts airflow and efficiency, but it also becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. As your HVAC unit pumps air to the home, these contaminants get blown out with it and decrease your indoor air quality.

Schedule professional duct cleaning service once every two years to help maintain air quality and reduce stress placed on the system.

Maintain a Clean Air Filter

Clogged filters decrease airflow, forcing the system to work harder and experience a higher level of wear and tear. They’re also the number one cause of breakdowns. Remember to clean or change your HVAC system’s air filter every month.

Take Care of the Condenser Unit

While A/C condenser units are designed to withstand the elements, they’re not invincible. Inspect your condenser for any damage or debris buildup on occasion, especially after severe storms and instances of hail. Additionally, give the unit two to three feet of space to easily and efficiently draw in air. Keep the unit and surrounding space clean and clear of obstructions as well as grass clippings, leaves, branches, dirt, and other debris.

Check the Drainage Pipe Regularly

HVAC systems feature a PVC pipe on the indoor unit that leads outside to drain excess condensation. Serious damage to this outlet line can result in expensive repairs, so inspect yours regularly for blockages, debris, and any other issues. Be sure to do so more frequently in winter due to the potential of ice or snow deposits.

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

Being strategic with your thermostat can help lower utility bills and stress on your system. However, constantly adjusting the temperature can have the opposite effect. With a programmable thermostat, you can preset temperature and humidity levels over multiple days without worrying about manual adjustments.

Ease Stress on the System in Other Ways

Give your HVAC system a break whenever possible to maximize its performance and useful life. For more information, check out our helpful guides to optimizing HVAC efficiency in the winter and summer.

Heating and cooling systems contribute up to half of a home’s energy consumption, and we rely on them throughout the year in our state. Use this guide to extending the lifespan of HVAC equipment to keep the air in your home clean and comfy for years to come.

Backed by over 30 years of industry experience, locally owned and operated WestAIR has the knowledge and expertise for all your heating, cooling, and indoor air quality needs. Contact us to learn more about our services.

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7 Winter Furnace Maintenance Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Woman performing routine cleaning on a heating unit, one of a few simple but important winter furnace maintenance tips.

We rely on our heating systems a lot during Minnesota’s long, brutal winters. As we continue through the coldest months of the year, homeowners should take steps to minimize stress on their HVAC system to help prevent inconvenient breakdowns and costly repairs. Use these winter furnace maintenance tips to enjoy optimal performance, efficiency, and comfort all season long.

  1. Keep the air filter clean. A clogged filter forces the HVAC system to work harder, decreases efficiency, and is also the most common cause of breakdowns. Be sure to change or clean your air filter every month.
  2. Maintain a clear, clean area around the unit. Giving your furnace room to breathe promotes safe, efficient operation, as well as easy access to the unit for you or your HVAC specialist if necessary. As a general rule, give your furnace or indoor air handling unit three feet of clearance and clean the space regularly.
  3. Inspect flue pipes for damage. Your furnace naturally produces gases during the combustion process, and flue pipes carry these gases to your home’s ventilation system to be safely exhausted. Check the pipes for any damage that could be leaking CO into the home, as well as signs of soot and/or rusting. Have an experienced HVAC technician inspect any issues immediately.
  4. Clean supply and return vents. Supply vents feed warm air produced by your furnace to your home; return vents pull old indoor air and deliver it to the HVAC system to maintain indoor air quality and comfort. Cleaning them helps prevent dust and other airborne irritants from getting into the air you breathe or sucked back into the system.
  5. Check for signs of dirty ductwork. Air ducts carry air between your HVAC system and home and naturally collect dirt, dust, and other debris over time. Issues to look for include mold around your vents or furnace, excessive dust accumulation (especially around vents), inconsistent heating throughout the home, unexplained increases in allergy symptoms and/or respiratory problems, and signs of a rodent or pest infestation. Schedule professional duct cleaning service if you see any of these, and plan to do so annually.
  6. Turn the temperature down but keep the system on. Turning the thermostat down at night or when the house is empty can help cut utility costs, but don’t turn the system completely off. Having to fire the furnace back up whenever you wake up or return home requires more energy and adds unnecessary stress. Just remember to go no lower than 55 degrees (or closer to 60 during extreme cold) to help prevent frozen pipes. For ultimate ease and efficiency, consider installing a programmable thermostat that lets you pre-set temperature settings for multiple days ahead of time.
  7. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Don’t wait for a complete breakdown to give your furnace the attention it needs. If you notice uneven or inefficient heating, unexplained spikes in energy bills, or any other furnace issue warning signs, call WestAIR for professional diagnosis and repair before the issue gets worse.

It may be the beginning of a new year, but we have a lot of cold days and harsh weather ahead of us yet. Follow these winter furnace maintenance tips to help your heating system run safely, efficiently, and uninterrupted for the rest of the season.

Trust the highly knowledgeable and experienced HVAC professionals at WestAIR for all your heating and cooling needs. Contact us to learn more.

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HVAC Checklist for Winter Trips 10 Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

When winter hits in Minnesota, it’s easy to understand why some of us want a temporary escape to somewhere warm. Others might head up north for long ice fishing trips or to enjoy the winter wonderland. Whatever the reason to leave the house empty, you want to make sure it’s prepared for the weather. If you’re planning an extended vacation this season, follow this HVAC checklist for winter trips to help keep your home safe while you’re away.

  1. Turn the thermostat down but not off. There’s no need to keep an empty home comfortably warm, but you want to help protect against frozen pipes. It’s recommended to set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees (closer to 60 during severe cold) and to open closet and cabinet doors so the warm air can reach the plumbing. For extended trips away from home, shut off the main water valve, drain remaining water by opening faucets, and leave them open until you return.
  2. Change or clean the air filter. Ensure your system has a fresh filter to prevent efficiency and performance issues while you’re away. And remember to change (or clean if reusable) your air filter monthly!
  3. Seal the home to trap the heat in and the cold out. The lower thermostat setting makes sealing warm air inside the home even more important. Check around windows, doors, and exterior walls and fix any potential leaks with caulk. And before you leave, lock all windows and doors to ensure a tight seal.
  4. Clean the home (especially dusting). Sealing the home naturally decreases ventilation. Clean the house to reduce the presence of dust and other airborne pollutants that impact indoor air quality, using extra care while vacuuming carpets and dusting hard surfaces.
  5. Clear/clean the area around the furnace/HVAC unit. Generally, there should be at least 3 feet of distance around your furnace or indoor air handling unit. Move any potential obstructions and clean the area, and ensure flammable items are kept far away from the unit.
  6. Ensure vents are clean and clear of obstructions. Similarly, make sure that the vents that feed the warm air to your home are dusted, cleaned, and free of obstructions – a closed or blocked vent will alter the system’s even distribution of air and decrease efficiency.
  7. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. Make sure they are clean and working properly with fresh batteries, and remember they should be tested weekly and cleaned at least monthly. You should refer to the manufacturer’s manual regarding maintenance and replacement schedules, but CO detectors should typically be replaced every five years and smoke detectors every 10.
  8. Unplug unnecessary appliances for extra safety and savings. Large appliances like TVs and sound systems, as well as smaller ones like coffee pots and toasters, will draw some electricity even when not in use. Unplug any appliances that don’t need power while you’re away to help reduce your utility bill.
  9. Make plans for monitoring. Consult your local HVAC company about any remote monitoring options available for your system. Before you leave home, notify close friends, family, and neighbors who can keep an eye out for any issues that you’ll be away. If you feel comfortable enough, consider giving a spare key to someone you trust so they can check on your home and provide updates.
  10. Schedule a professional inspection/maintenance service. The best way to ensure optimal safety, performance, and efficiency of your system is to schedule a professional inspection and maintenance service with an HVAC technician. Call the pros at WestAIR!

If you’re planning a fun, relaxing adventure away from home, the last thing you want to return to is a broken furnace, frozen pipes, or any other disaster around the house. Follow this HVAC checklist for winter trips to keep your home protected.

For all your residential heating and cooling needs, trust the experience and expertise of the professionals at WestAIR. Contact us to learn more.

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6 Furnace Issue Warning Signs to Watch Out For

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

November may have given us a few warm, sunny days, but it’s safe to say heating season is upon us in Minnesota. We’ll have our furnaces working hard for the next few months, making it crucial for homeowners to know when their system needs professional repair or replacement. Use these furnace issue warning signs so you know when it’s time to call in the pros this winter.

Old Age

With proper installation and regular maintenance service, furnaces will last 15 to 20 years on average. Check the age of your furnace, and if it’s over 15 years old, it’s time to start considering an upgrade. Contact WestAIR for a free estimate and to schedule a professional inspection and evaluation with one of our HVAC technicians.

Frequent, Costly Repairs

Your furnace should be serviced annually for maintenance, but regular repairs that take a toll on your wallet are a sure sign that your furnace needs replacing. If repair service costs 50 percent or more than a replacement, a system upgrade is highly recommended. Not only will you receive peace of mind throughout the heating season, modern furnaces offer much higher efficiency and performance, saving you money on utility and repair bills.

Irregular Sounds, Smells, and Cycling

HVAC systems operate quietly and can easily go unnoticed if they’re functioning properly. Keep an eye (as well as an ear and nose) out for these irregular warning signs:

  • Banging, rattling, popping, humming, or screeching sounds
  • Persistent or random burning smells
  • More frequent on/off cycling (AKA short cycling)

These complications indicate serious mechanical problems that decrease heating efficiency and pose a potential fire hazard. Contact WestAIR, your local HVAC company, ASAP if you notice any of these issues.

Uneven or Inefficient Heating

Properly sized, installed, and maintained furnaces are designed to heat your entire house evenly. Signs of inefficient heating include:

  • Finding cold spots or different temperatures in rooms around the home
  • Having to adjust the thermostat frequently to maintain comfort
  • Turning the temperature higher than normal to keep the house warm
  • Seeing unexpected spikes in utility bills

If you experience any of these issues, the solution could be anything from a simple repair to a thermostat or furnace replacement. Don’t suffer through poor heating and higher costs – have an HVAC technician inspect your system and diagnose the problem and discuss your options.

Decreased Indoor Air Quality

Furnaces and HVAC systems are designed to help maintain indoor air quality and humidity as well as temperature. Yours might be failing if you or your family notice the following:

  • Stuffy or stale air
  • Dry nose, throat, or skin
  • Excessive dust accumulation
  • Frequent static shocks
  • Cracked wood on furniture, fixtures, and frames
  • New or worsening allergy symptoms

Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Furnaces fueled by gas or oil produce carbon monoxide, which is poisonous and potentially life-threatening with prolonged exposure. Heating systems are designed to trap and safely exhaust this dangerous gas, but it is possible for a leak to develop over time and put your family at risk. Signs of a carbon monoxide leak include:

  • Yellow and/or flickering burner flame (should be blue with a consistent burn)
  • Soot around the furnace and registers
  • Excess moisture on exterior windows, walls, and other cold surfaces
  • Rust, cracks, or corrosion on/around flue pipes and other furnace components

Warning signs of carbon monoxide exposure can also mimic common illnesses, so beware of unexplained nausea, frequent headaches, confusion/disorientation, burning nose and eyes, and flu-like symptoms. Remember, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause serious health issues and even death. If you or a family member experience any of these signs and symptoms, seek medical attention immediately and then call your utility provider and HVAC technician ASAP.

We all know that Minnesota weather offers plenty of surprises, and getting stuck with a broken furnace is a surprise we could all do without. Remember these furnace issue warning signs so you can stay ahead of issues and know when it’s time for professional repair or replacement service.

WestAIR is a Rheem Pro Partner and proudly services all residential HVAC brands. Contact us for all your heating and cooling needs.

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7 Tips for Winter Indoor Air Quality Maintenance

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Women enjoying a hot beverage from the warmth and comfort of her home during winter.

With the recent snowfall and chilly temps, there’s no denying that winter is almost here. Time to prepare! As heating season makes its way to Minnesota, we must remember to keep the air in our home clean as well as warm. Use this guide to winter indoor air quality maintenance to keep your family cozy, healthy, and happy throughout the season.

Poor Winter Indoor Air Quality: Causes and Effects

When cold weather hits, we seal our homes to prevent the warm air produced by our furnaces from escaping. While this helps increase comfort and energy efficiency, it also traps dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants inside the home that then decrease indoor air quality. Common signs of poor winter indoor air quality include:

  • Dry, itchy, or watery eyes
  • Cold or flu symptoms: coughing, sneezing, nausea
  • Heightened symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illness
  • Fatigue and trouble concentrating
  • Irritation of the nose and throat, particularly dryness
  • Headaches

Tips for Winter Indoor Air Quality Maintenance

Escaping the bitter cold of Minnesota winters means spending more time inside our home, making clean indoor air crucial to our comfort and health. Thankfully, homeowners can improve and maintain air quality with these helpful tips.

  1. Clean regularly – Don’t let dust, mold spores, and other pollutants build up around the home. Dust hard surfaces and vacuum (using a vacuum with a HEPA filter if possible) at least weekly. Use non-toxic cleaners free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are a major contributor to unhealthy air.
  2. Maintain a clean filter Air filters keep dust and other debris from entering and harming your HVAC system, but must be maintained in order to prevent these irritants from making their way back into the air. Remember to change air filters monthly or clean if resuable.
  3. Schedule annual service maintenance – Ensure your heating system runs at peak performance and provides clean, warm air with professional maintenance service from a WestAIR HVAC expert.
  4. Have your ductwork cleaned – Dirt, dust, pet hair and dander, and other irritants settle inside your air ducts over time. Schedule duct cleaning service before winter is in full swing, and plan to do so annually.
  5. Enhance ventilation with an air exchanger – Sealing the home in winter leads to recycled, stale air inside. To resolve this, air exchangers deliver a continuous flow of fresh, filtered outdoor air while simultaneously exhausting unhealthy indoor air.
  6. Control humidity with a whole house humidifier – Humidity plays a crucial role for indoor air quality. Dry winter air can cause nose, throat, and skin discomfort, as well as damage wood fixtures and furniture over time. Installing a whole house humidifier will help maintain proper humidity levels in your home.
  7. Consider additional clean air solutions Air cleaners work with your current system to remove excess dust and other irritants that decrease indoor air quality. Ultraviolet (UV) light purification systems utilize UV rays to eliminate odors harmful airborne pathogens like viruses, bacteria, mold, and VOCs.

This year has presented us all with new and unique challenges. But no matter how unpredictable 2020 has been, we know we can always plan for harsh winter weather here in Minnesota. We’re already seeing the temps drop and snow fall, so don’t wait! Use these winter indoor air quality maintenance tips to enjoy clean, comfy air inside your home this heating season.

For all your heating and cooling needs, trust the HVAC experts at WestAIR. Contact us today to learn more.

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Ready to Replace: The Benefits of a Furnace Upgrade

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Family enjoying time inside together on a cold winter day.

How old is your furnace? According to Consumer Reports, a furnace’s average life expectancy is 15 – 20 years (depending on the fuel type). Age is just one indicator that it’s time to replace your heating system, and doing so can do more than just ensure a cozy home all winter. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a furnace upgrade.

Increased Energy Efficiency

Modern furnaces offer significantly more efficiency than older ones, which ultimately means lower utility bills. This is measured by the system’s annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) – the amount of the system’s annual energy consumption that actually produces heat. Older systems score between 56 percent and 70 percent AFUE, meaning only 56 to 70 percent of the energy consumed becomes heat for the home. Modern high-efficiency heating systems offer 90 percent to 98.5 percent AFUE, helping you use less and save more.

Compatible with Programmable Thermostat – More Savings

Programmable thermostats can save you up to 33 percent on annual heating and cooling costs. You can schedule temperatures ahead of time, so the system automatically turns down when you’re away to save energy and back up when you’re at home for comfort. Properly used along with your new energy-efficient furnace, a programmable thermostat can help you maximize your savings.

Optimal Comfort Throughout the Home

Advanced technology in today’s furnaces helps provide stable, even temperatures throughout the home, eliminating cold spots and ensuring comfort.

Some modern features and benefits:

  • Zoning systems let you regulate the temperatures in each individual room, making sure the heat is utilized how you want.
  • Variable-speed operation means the blower motor has multiple speed settings. It will work at high capacity during periods of extreme cold to circulate more warm air throughout the house, and low capacity on more mild days to use less energy. Older systems have fixed-speed motors that operate at full capacity whenever they run.
  • Two-stage furnaces will operate in the first stage (about 65 percent of full capacity) until outside temperatures drop low enough, in which case it will kick into stage two and produce more heat to fulfill the additional requirements. As a result, these systems enhance efficiency and provide a steady flow of warm air for comfort on those extra-cold days.

Improved Safety

Due to normal wear and tear over time, an older furnace can develop a crack in its heat exchanger and leak poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) into the home. Common signs of a CO leak include:

  • Weak, flickering, and/or yellow burner flame
  • Soot streaks near furnace
  • Moisture on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
  • Rusting on flue pipes/other pipe connections or appliance jacks
  • Small water leak at base of chimney, vent, or flue pipe

Signs of human exposure can be mistaken for common illnesses:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Burning feeling in nose/eyes

If you notice any of these signs of CO poisoning, contact your local HVAC specialist immediately. Installing a new furnace will help keep your home feeling cozy through the winter without putting your family in danger.

Better Indoor Air Quality

Your HVAC system is also responsible for the air quality of your home, and keeping a clean air filter is key. However, even with a clean filter, an older furnace can cause excessive dust, allergens, and dry, stale air in your home.

Enhanced Reliability

Frequent issues and expensive repairs to your furnace add up quickly, and they also leave your home with insufficient or no heat until fixed. While you should have your system serviced annually, having to call for a repair shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. A new furnace gives you the peace of mind that your family will be comfy all winter long.

While important, keeping your home warm is only one of the benefits of a furnace upgrade. We rely on our home’s heating system a lot here in Minnesota, so it’s important to make sure yours is up to the task. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Have your system inspected today and see if this is the year you replace.

WestAIR installs high-efficiency Rheem furnaces because they use advanced, state-of-the-art technology to offer the best in energy-efficient home heating. From HVAC service to system replacements, our experts are here for all your heating and cooling needs.Contact us for more information.

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Dry Indoor Air + Humidification

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Dry indoor airWinter is already uncomfortable enough with the freezing temperatures, so why not make the most of your cozy indoor living space where you can escape the dry and brittle cold air? Lower temperatures mean lower humidity levels because cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air. Here are two simple reasons your dry indoor air needs humidification:

Your comfort

Overly dry air can make your skin and respiratory problems flare up, from asthma and allergies to eczema and acne. If your home air is too dry, it could cause bloody noses, chapped lips, and itchy skin. Your respiratory system is lined with moist membranes in your nose and throat that prevent bacteria, viruses, dirt, and dust from getting into your lungs. If they are dry, they won’t keep particles out effectively, making you more vulnerable to sickness.

In addition, dry air increases static electricity, which produces painful shocks and zaps when you walk around on the carpet or touch metal surfaces. It will also make your hair more difficult to maintain and cause your clothes to stick to you uncomfortably.

Your belongings

Dry air will pull moisture from hardwood floors, furniture, and even the walls, doors, and general frame of your home, making it contract and shift. As the frame shifts, doors may be hard to open and close, or gaps may form between the ceiling, walls, windows, and door frames.

Books, artwork, and even the paint or wallpaper on your walls can get brittle, warped, or wrinkled in dry air. If you have musical instruments, they may lose their shape and tune. Humid air feels warmer, so moderate levels of humidity can allow you to set the thermostat lower and give your heating system a break. That way, you can live comfortably and save money on your heating bill and maintenance. But be careful: excess moisture may cause mold, bacteria, and mildew growth in poorly ventilated areas of your home.

You can keep an ideal, comfortable humidity level between 40 and 60 percent with a whole home humidifier. WestAIR Heating & Cooling offers whole house humidifiers that will keep every room of your home comfortable, even in the dry winter. Our humidifiers will automatically work with your HVAC system to distribute moisture throughout your home’s entire duct system. We offer programmable thermostats that come with a built-in humidity sensor so you can test and regulate home humidity and avoid going overboard.

Contact us to learn more about your heating and indoor air quality options.

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Holiday Home Safety Tips

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

The holidays are exciting, filled with gift shopping, decorating, cooking, hosting the extended family, or traveling to a Christmas getaway. But don’t overlook small details that are mishaps waiting to happen. From the ten-year-old string of decorative lights wrapped around your banister to the poisonous poinsettia plant sitting on your dining room table, the festivities bring many hazards to your home. Have an enjoyable and accident-free Christmas season with these holiday home safety tips:

Electrical threats

Before you hang up electric decorations, inspect them for damage. Look for cracked sockets, loose connections, or frayed cords. An exposed wire could light up your Christmas tree in flames. Never overload outlets or connect more than three strings of electrical lights. They could trip a breaker or start a fire.

Fire

You should always check your fireplace and chimney before you light it. Santa may not be peeking down at you from the roof, but there could be debris blocking smoke and creating a fire hazard. If you have a real Christmas tree, water it daily, and don’t put it too close to the fireplace. Keep combustibles at least three feet from heat sources and never block exits in case of a fire.

Decorating danger

In a quest to outdo last year’s Christmas décor, many homeowners take decorating to new heights, quite literally. If you plan to hang sparkling ornaments or lights in high places, don’t climb or stand on furniture. Use a proper ladder and have someone support the base if you need to hang decorations beyond your normal reach.

Theft

Try not to order anything online to be shipped to your home if you plan to be away for the holidays. Thieves can easily run up and snatch retail packages on a porch. Don’t leave large displays of holiday gifts near windows where passersby can easily see them. If possible, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you are away so you don’t have to worry about holiday theft.

Cold weather

If you plan to be away for the holidays, take steps to prevent frozen pipes. Basement, attic, and garage pipes are most susceptible to freezing and bursting in cold temps, causing significant water damage in a matter of hours. Make sure to close your garage door when you leave to keep the cold air out. Open kitchen and cabinet doors so the warmer air throughout your home will circulate and reach the pipes in your walls. Set the thermostat to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

WestAIR Heating & Cooling offers programmable thermostats with vacation-hold settings so you can easily stay in control of your heat while you are away. We can install a gas fireplace so you don’t have to worry about the decorations, Christmas tree, or wrapping paper falling into the hearth and catching fire. Contact us to learn more about your heating options this holiday season.

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Are Radiant Infloor Heating Systems Worth the Cost?

Posted on by WestAIR Heating & Cooling

Are Radiant Infloor Heating Systems Worth the Cost?

Have you ever been to a home or building with heated floors? Even on a chilly winter evening, your feet feel warm. The air around you feels comfortable, not drafty. Some homeowners find heated floors a necessity, while others think they’re an expensive and frivolous feature. Let’s consider the pros and cons of radiant infloor heating.

Advantages

Energy Efficiency

Traditional boiler and forced air systems heat the nearest area of space. The radiator can have an internal temperature between 159-167 degrees Fahrenheit just to heat up a room. By the time the warm air makes its way to the other side of the room, the air cools below the programmed temperature. Depending on the location and size of the room, a radiator or forced air can create inconsistent temperatures.

Infloor heating covers the entire floor. Heat rises, so no matter where you walk, the room will reflect the correct temperature. Furthermore, the source typically heats up between 80 – 90 degrees. Best of all, radiant heat can save 15 to 40 percent on energy bills because of its efficient technology.

Minimal Maintenance

Did you know you should have your furnace checked once a year, as well as change your air filter multiple times a year? Service visits costs add up, especially if your heating system needs replacement parts. There are no maintenance costs with radiant infloor heating, and some brands guarantee their product for decades!

Space

Boiler systems and forced air take up space. Boiler radiators reduce physical space in a room and can create challenges with furniture placement. Forced air systems make use of ceiling, wall, and floor space for ducts and vents. With infloor heating, the flooring conceals all equipment, allowing for an open, spacious feel.

Comfort

We all have experienced the shocking feeling of bare feet on a cold floor during the winter. With radiant infloor heating, your feet will feel cozy all winter long, even without socks.

Versatility

Infloor heating works with all floor types: wood, stone, tile, carpet, laminate, and more.

Safety

Radiators can pose safety hazards and cause injuries such as burns and cuts. In addition, forced air reduces oxygen and the thermal circulation kicks up dust, which can aggravate allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Radiant heat keeps air fresh and oxygen-rich and dust out of the air.

Disadvantages

Electric heating installation costs $10 to $20 per square foot. Connecting the system to your power supply adds an extra few hundred dollars to the bill. Another disadvantage—the process takes one to two days to dry, because of leveling compound that tops the thermal mat.  Water-based systems cost more than double that of electric heating and require installation during the build phase of a new home. Lastly, radiant infloor heating adds about half an inch to the floor. Experts recommend using insulation boards underneath, increasing height by approximately an inch more.

Many homeowners say that the advantages of infloor heating outweigh the disadvantages, and the cost of installation is ultimately worth it. You don’t need to build a new home to try radiant infloor heating. If it’s time to remodel your bathroom or basement, look into infloor heating for added comfort, improved energy efficiency, and increased resale value.

Contact WestAIR Heating & Cooling to learn more about installing radiant infloor heating.

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