Using your HVAC system in the winter doesn't have to dry out your home

Beating Winter Dryness Indoors

Everyone in New England can remember beating a cold night by cranking up the heat, blissfully falling asleep in a toasty-warm room, only to wake up with a face so dry they fear it will crack.

Winter dryness can lead to nose bleeds, skin problems, sore throats, itchiness and other health issues in inhabitants. Your flesh isn’t the only thing at risk from dryness either, the low humidity can warp wood and cause paint to peel or discolor. The dryness can also crisp houseplants and damage antiques and old photographs.

The HVAC isn’t the only source of winter dryness; the outdoor air is noticeably drier when most moisture if frozen solid, but your HVAC system can help you solve the winter dryness by incorporating a humidifier system.

We recommend, and install, both the Automatic Humidifier from Aprilaire and the TrueSTEAM Humidification System from Honeywell. (1) Both of these systems are far superior to old fashioned humidifiers, where homeowners had to lug water to the machine and guess where to set the manual controls to meet their moisture needs.

The new systems can detect your home’s humidity, fill up with water automatically and release it through the entire house.

You can give up the guesswork needed for old fashioned freestanding humidifiers, which could result in over humidifying ones home, with a modern automatic system. The best part is you won’t wake up reaching for the moisturizer again.

(1) https://www.wilsonbrothers.com/indoor-air-quality/humidifiers/

You can get a better night's sleep in a cool bedroom

Sleep better by keeping your bedroom cool

If you’re one of the millions of Americans with sleep problems, you might be able to get a better night’s sleep by adjusting your HVAC system.

Sleep experts generally agree that a bedroom temperature of 65 degrees allows most people to get a good night’s sleep, but every individual has their own variations and neds. Try moving your gauges around a few degrees at a time and see if you sleep any better.

If you have a programmable thermostat installed, your HVAC system can raise and lower the temperature as you need it. Picture this: The house stays cool during the night to help people sleep better, but warms up in the morning while adults get ready for work and kids get ready for school. Then, the temperature falls while the house is empty, only to warm back up again by the time everyone returns for the evening.

Your HVAC system can do all of that, trimming down on your energy bill and helping you get a more complete, refreshing night of sleep.

Carbon Monoxide Detection in Massachusetts

Carbon Monoxide Alert! What you can’t see could kill you!

Most people know the importance of installing carbon monoxide detectors in the home, but this advice bears repeating. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless gas and it can kill.

Its deadly work can be through gradual exposure over time or a sudden, buildup of CO in a small, poorly ventilated room. Usually, defective combustion heating equipment is the source, although other potential causes can occur any time of year.

Just as important, be sure to test your CO detectors monthly to make sure they are still operational. Change the batteries every six months when you change the clocks for daylight savings time in early spring and late fall.

Remember that even hard-wired models have battery backups. Press the “test” button for two to three seconds. When the alarm beep sounds, release the button. If there is no beep, replace the batteries and test again. If it still doesn’t sound an alarm, replace the unit.

Radient Heating Installations, Central Massachusetts

Why radiant heating could make you love your bathroom

People who have lived in older houses have all experienced the mid-winter chill that comes from stepping barefoot on the cold floor of a bathroom during the middle of the night. Hot air rises and the hard tile floors can be the hardest spot to warm up during a January night.

That’s where radiant floor heating packs the biggest wallop. We install water pipes under the floorboards or tile floor that is connected to a boiler. The water carries the heat through the pipes and it heats up the floor itself. We recommend using it with hardwoods or ceramic tiles, as those materials will retain the heat.

The beauty of the system is that the heat stays low where people need it the most, as opposed to other heating systems that mostly heat the air. Unlike other heating systems, there’s no hot stove or radiator that could burn a person, and people with allergies don’t have to worry about pollen or other allergens being distributed into the air.

Radiant floor heating can be installed in any room, but it’s much more economical to place it in new homes and expansions, as opposes to tearing up floors to retrofit existing rooms. Any covering that insulates the floor, such as a thick carpet, would lower the efficiency of the heating system, so floor options are limited.

But if you’ve taken one too many steps on cold tiles, or found yourself huddling close to the stove, consider the heating system that tackles your heating needs from the bottom up.

Winter Heating in Massachusetts, Keeping Warm in the Winter in MA

Keeping your holiday party warm

Christmas parties and holiday gathers are annual features of December, but so are snow, ice and cold air. Make sure the next December party you throw is warm enough for people to take their jackets off and get in the holiday spirit.

Before you even start planning the party you should check the insulation of your home to minimize any heat loss. Do you have weatherstripping in your doors and windows? Did you insulate your power outlets and light switches to cut down on drafts?

Also, try to minimize how long the front door is open when guests arrive, otherwise making it harder for your heating system to work. The larger the gathering, the more the door will open.

Use a smart thermostat to control your heating system. With all the distractions and responsibilities demanded of a party host it’s easy to forget to adjust the heat in time for the party, or you may want to make it a little warmer indoors to account for people coming and going, then level it off as the party winds down. If you have a heating system that doesn’t use a thermostat you can dub a volunteer to be in charge of maintaining the temperature.

Encourage your guests to dress warmly. While you can simply tell them that they should dress for December, it’s a lot more fun to ask people to wear obnoxious Christmas sweaters. You can also put the food and any activities in the same room as the heating source.

Lastly, try serving hot chocolate, mulled cider or peppermint tea or any other food or drink that will warm people up on the inside. Use a slow cooker or electric kettle to keep things warm all evening.

Wilson Brother Green Heating Solutions

Should I turn my heat off during the day?

Saving on energy costs is a serious concern, especially in the winter.  Even though the cost of oil is lower than in the recent past, it always makes sense to save money on the fuel we use to heat our homes.  I am often asked about the value of turning the heat down, only to have to turn it up again.  People wonder if this wastes more energy than it saves, making the furnace or boiler work harder.

A thermostat doesn’t work like a gas pedal, where pressing it down hard makes the engine work harder. Your thermostat tells your heating and cooling systems when to operate and when to stop – never how intense to work. A heating system bringing the room from 60 degrees to 70 degrees works just as hard at any given moment as one bringing the room from 50 degrees to 80 degrees.  The only difference is at what point the system stops itself.

When it comes to heating systems, it never makes sense to leave them running when the heat isn’t needed. You can turn them down or off when not in use and you will conserve energy (and save money).

The idea of saving energy by only heating rooms when needed is the entire idea behind smart thermostats, ones that you can program when the heat comes on and when it shuts off.  This way, you can program the thermostat to turn the heat down at 8 am — around the time you leave in the morning — and tell it to raise the temperature in the room around the time you return home, so you can come home to a warm house.

In addition, you can create zones within your home using multiple thermostats so that each zone can be programmed individually.

Smart thermostats also let users savm, be heating costs at night when family members are in their beds in just two or three rooms and the rest of the house is empty. Most people tend to sleep deeper and longer in a cool roout want to wake up to a warm house. The same principle applies.  Program the thermostat to turn down when it is bedtime and turn up again just before the family gets up in the morning.

By using a smart thermostat, you can reduce heating costs twice in the same day – when the family goes to bed and when they go to work or school.

Generac Generator Special 2015

SAVE $200 & Live Life Uninterrupted with a Standby Generator

New England has had it’s fair share of tough weather over the last few years.  During the variety of hurricanes, nor’easters and blizzards, you may have found yourself without power for a long period of time.  Here are a few reasons to invest in a generator for your home you may have not thought of.

  • Keep your furnace running in the cold weather or AC on in the summer. This will prevent pipes from freezing and keep your family, and pets comfortable.
  • Provide you with hot water heating.
  • Keep your sump pump system running.
  • Keep your stove running so you can cook and your refrigerator on so your food will keep.
  • Keep your alarm system on.
  • Provide power for computers, wi-fi and communications.
  • Continue to provide power for medical equipment.

How the Generac Standby Generator works:

When you experience a power outage in your home, your generac generator will detect there is a problem. Within seconds, it will automatically turn on and provide your home with power until the utility is restored, whether it’s 2 hours or 2 weeks.

This works even if you’re not home so you can have peace of mind while you’re at work or away on vacation.

Our Generac Generators also run off of propane or natural gas, which makes it easier to maintain as no manual fueling is necessary.

You can have a generator power your entire home or you can run it for specific appliances. We’ll install your electrical hook up so there’s no need to run extension cords and hope that you have it done correctly.

With the variety of weather we experience all year long in New England, a generator is a worthwhile investment for your home.

Standby generators are also a good investment for your home’s resale value, in addition to saving you money during power outages.

According to a 2014 report by Remodeling Magazine, homeowners across the country can expect to increase their resale value by 67.5 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing a standby generator. The study included the costs of the standby unit (approx 17kW), the automatic transfer switch and other electrical hardware, connecting to existing gas lines, and the mounting pad.

Save up to $200 on a Generac Home Stand-by Generator

Contact us today to get an evaluation of your residential needs for a standby generator.

Indoor Air Quality, Indoor Air Filters, Westford MA, Lowell MA, Chelmsford MA, Burlington MA, Littleton MA, Ayer MA

Getting the most out of your indoor air filter

Allergy sufferers can tell the exciting days of summer are almost over each year when they first step outside and start to sneeze or feel their eyes burn. Fall allergies, brought on by the increased pollen and mold spores in the air, cause havoc to 35 million Americans each year and without appropriate steps the suffering will continue inside their own homes.

That’s why we sell and install indoor air quality systems, so one’s house can be an oasis of relief from fall allergies. Our systems are silent and can be connected directly to the home’s central heating or cooling system to prevent pollen and other unwanted particles from entering. They can be programed it to work continuously or only at certain times.

But as helpful as all of that is, it’s not a complete approach to ending indoor allergy problems. Homeowners still need to make small efforts to keep their indoor air quality high, just as owners of a welcome mat still need people to take muddy boots off before they enter.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association recommend indoor air filters for people with allergies or asthma. The EPA also recommends some additional steps to maintain top-notch indoor air quality:

*Choosing hard flooring over carpeting to give allergens fewer pockets to inhabit.

*Use outdoor-venting fans in the kitchen and bathroom.

*Keep pets out of bedrooms and outside as often as possible.

*Ban all indoor smoking.

*Keep heating and cooling systems maintained.

An indoor air quality system does a great job of filtering air coming into the building and moving throughout it, but the result will be much better if air pollutants have no indoor sources or places to hide.

When to shut down your air conditioner for the season

Much like Christmas lights, many homeowners don’t know when it’s time to shut down their air conditioning system for the season. Even with the end of the hot summer days, some people delay shutting it down just incase they get hit with an unexpected hot fall day, but no one wants to have to wade through snow to put a cover on the outdoor unit.

Weather fluctuates from year to year, so there’s really no good day to mark on the calendar in advance.

Our recommendation is to link the task to some other change of seasons task you’re already doing. For example, when you put away your patio furniture, cover your swimming pool, untie your hammock, winterize your lawnmower or put your motorcycle battery on a trickle-charger.

Alternatively, you could wait for the first frost to hit. That’s a dead give-away that you won’t need to cool the house anytime soon. If you find yourself turning the heat on and you haven’t prepared your cooling system for the season yet, it’s time to get on it right away.

Why it matters

Some units, not all but some, have an internal heating system for the cooling system’s condenser. This keeps some of the liquids in the machine from freezing during operation. Unfortunately, the warmth can make an attractive nest for field mice once the cold weather hits. During the summer, the field mice have plenty of warm places to dwell in, but once it gets cold out they get desperate and will enter a condenser unit.

Wilson Brothers technicians install an electric switch for customers in their electric panel marked “AC Condenser” that will stop all power from going to the condenser. Homeowners also need to go shut down their control panels for the season as well.

Go outside and shut it off, but unless that power switch is thrown, electricity will still get to the unit.

In addition, not enough people place outdoor covers on their condensers for the winter. The units are made to be outside year round and the refrigeration oils and other liquids can safely be left inside, but a cover is still needed to protect it from direct contact with ice and snow.

Use only true factory-made covers for your specific outdoor unit. Some people try to make their own covers with blue tarps and bungee cords. While that does create a barrier for the elements, it lacks the ventilation that the proper covers have. The tarps will trap air inside and create a small habitat with trapped moisture inside. The condensation will pit and corrode the electric contractors and damage the unit.

3 Summer Energy Tips to Save Money

The hot days of summer can be a menace to your utility bills if you’re not careful. Here’s a trio of handy tips to keep cool and reduce your need to run your cooling system.

We previously recommended clearing the filter on your cooling system at the beginning of summer. Well, even if you did it then it’s now a good idea to check it once more. Clogged filters slow down the air flow and make your system work harder than it has to. We recommend checking the filter every month.

Remember that upright and ceiling fans do not cool rooms; they only cool people. The fan blades create a wind chill effect when they blow air on a person, but the heat produced by their motors actually warms makes the room slightly warmer. That means leaving a fan on in an empty room isn’t just wasteful, it’s counterproductive.

Your outdoor grill is probably a hit at Fourth of July parties when you load it up with burgers, hot dogs and BBQ chicken, but don’t think that’s the limit of what you can use it for. Using the grill won’t heat up the house the way your oven will so use it every chance you get. The Internet is filled with tips on how to cook all sorts of things outdoors on the grill, including corn on the cob, lobster tails and even buttermilk biscuits.