4 ways to stay cool on the 4th of July

Most people have Independence Day off from work, but your air conditioner will probably run longer than normal to comfort the people lounging around the house. Give the AC a break and cut down on your utility bill by using these simple tips to reduce the need for home cooling during your Fourth of July party.

Go for a swim

Going for a swim on a hot day not only cools you down while you’re in the water, but will leave you feeling cool and comfortable hours later. Now that it’s July, all of the local swimming holes, public beaches and neighborhood pools should be open. Show up early to beat the crowds and if you feel up for it, take a second dip in the late afternoon.

Use the BBQ exclusively

Traditional Fourth of July parties use the outdoor grill to avoid heating up the house, but some people still end up preparing side dishes inside using the oven or the top of the stove. Resist that temptation and limit the non-BBQ items to cold and room temperature foods like potato salad, chips and fruit salad that was prepared in advance.

Block out the sun

You should already keep your window blinds and shades closed during the day to stop your home from heating up, but don’t forget to shield your outdoor guests from the sun’s rays too. You can install a sunshade, umbrella or canopy pretty cheaply outside. If your garage naturally stays cool, consider opening the door and setting up some chairs inside to provide an oasis from the sunlight.

Cut that hair!

Now is the perfect time to change your hairstyle to a new summer cut, but even if you’re not making a radical departure, now might be a good time to trim things up to stay cool. As a bonus, you’ll get a chance to show it off to your family and friends at the party.

Five tips to get your A/C running at it’s highest efficiency

Air conditioning systems require regular maintenance to keep them working at highest efficiency, whether they are window units or central A/C.

The inner components can collect dust, dirt, and mildew, which can lower their operating efficiency and your home’s air quality. Check the manual that came with your unit and follow basic procedures to keep it working properly. Here are Five Tips to get your system working properly:

  1.  Make sure the air conditioner is installed at least two feet away from foliage and 10 feet away from your dryer’s vent. Trim foliage and clean up nearby debris to minimize dirt near the condenser unit. If you have an outdoor unit for central air, do not surround it with shrubs or solid fencing.
  2. Clean or replace your air conditioner’s filter every month during regular use. If you have dogs or cats indoors or if you live in a dusty area, you may need to change or clean it more frequently.
  3. Be sure the drain line of your central air unit isn’t clogged with mold and mildew, which can cause water to back up into the home. Pour a cup of bleach into the line’s access hole each spring. If a clog occurs, place the nozzle of your wet/dry vacuum over the line’s opening to suck it out.
  4. Wipe off the housing when it becomes dirty and then remove it. Sweep any debris away from the inner components with a paintbrush. If the aluminum fins are bent, contact a repair person to adjust them.
  5. Contact a service technician yearly to inspect the condenser and evaporator coils which may require chemical cleaning. The technician can also check the motor and electrical components to ensure that everything is functioning properly.
  6. If you have questions about proper air conditioning maintenance or to schedule an Air Conditioning Tune-Up, Lowell, Nashua NH, Burlington MA, Chelmsford MA from the All Season Comfort Specialists, call Wilson Brothers today!

800-498-5373 or 978-433-5373 

Ten tips to avoid and limit flooding damage

Spring has Arrived! (Thankfully)

With the melting of the huge amount of snow we experienced this winter combined with April Showers, the threat of flooding is always a risk.  Here are Ten Tips to help you control ground water around your house, which is the source of most basement flooding … AND to limit damage should you experience a wet basement. 

1)   Make sure your roof gutters are clean and clear of obstruction.

Spring Cleaning - gutter maintenance to avoid spring flooding, or leaks.

2)  Check the downspouts on your house.  Does water flow freely out of the bottom opening?  Make sure the water discharges a few feet away from the foundation wall and that it has an unobstructed path that leads it well away from the house.  Center splash blocks under downspouts so the water is directed properly.  If you have downspout extension pipes, make sure they are connected and pointed in the right direction to lead water away from the house.
3)  To prevent window wells filling with water, cover them with plastic well covers or a sheet of plywood that leans against the house.
4)   Make sure garden borders, debris and mulch do not create dams that hold surface water up next to the house.
5)   Inspect any exposed walls inside your basement.  Caulk any gaps or cracks.
6)   If you have a sump pump, make sure it is plugged in and working.  Check it by dumping a few gallons of water into the sump pit and confirm that it drains the water properly.  If you don’t have a sump pump, consider getting one now, especially if you have had problems with wet basements in the past.
7)   If you have an interior drain in the basement floor, be sure that it is clear.
8)   A backwater valve will stop water and sewage in an overloaded sewer line from flooding back into your basement.
9)   Pick up boxes and anything that is vulnerable to water and put them on shelves or put down oak pallets under boxes to lift them up a few inches or more off the floor.
10)   Remove important documents, files, photos, or memorabilia from the basement to avoid mildew or ruin if the basement does get flooded.

Save up to $200. On a Generac Home Stand-by Generator!

Save up to $200

On a Generac Home Stand-by Generator!

Special Offer from Wilson Brothers, Westford Heating and Air Conditioning Repair, Lowell Heating Repair, Chelmsford, Pepperell, Groton, Dunstable

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Don’t let another Northeast power outage cause major interruptions in your life! Wilson Brothers can save you up to $200 on a Generac Home Stand-by Generator that will make the next loss of power less traumatic!

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Eliminate one of life’s interruptions. Call Wilson Brothers today to learn about how easy it is for us to install a Generac Home Stand-by Generator in your home to ensure an uninterrupted tomorrow. And for a limited time, you can save up to $200!

Available from 7kW to 45kW, Generac Home Stand-by Generators are compact, dependable, and ready to provide electricity when you need it most! Call Wilson Brothers for a home assessment to see what size generator is best for your home.

What to do About Ice Dams

Those Icicles Can Spell Trouble!
This unusually cold and snowy winter
has all the ingredients for disaster to develop
on the roof of your home!

Icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may look pretty, but they can cause lots of problems.  Icicles can foreshadow the formation of ice dams along the eaves – thick ridges of solid ice that can tear off gutters, loosen roof shingles and cause water to back up and leak into the house.

Here’s how ice dams form.  Snow collects on the roof.  Ice accumulates along the eaves.  If heat is escaping through the roof or if the sun is shining on the roof during the day, the ice begins to melt.  Lower night temperatures re-freeze the ice into thick blocks in gutters and along the eaves.

What can be done to prevent or remove ice dams?  Here are some tips:
1)  Pull off snow on the roof with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you stand safely on the ground.  Take off at least the first four feet of snow from the edge of the roof toward the peak.  If you have a flat roof, you made need to remove all the snow to prevent a roof collapse.
2)  Be careful when attempting to remove ice dams with a hammer, chisel, or shovel.  That can cause damage to the roof or gutter.  Don’t throw salt on them either, as the salt can damage plantings below.  Instead try this:  Fill the leg of discarded pair of panty hose with a calcium chloride ice melt. Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. If necessary, use a long-handled garden rake or hoe to push it into position. The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof.
3)  There are oversized “tablets” made of ice melt that can be tossed onto the roof to stimulate melting of snow and ice.
 
4)  If you are already experiencing a leak in the roof, take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where water is seeping in.  This cold air will freeze the water in a manner of minutes.
Next winter, before the snow arrives, you can take the following precautions:
1)  Equalize the roof temperature by attaching heated cables to the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern.
2)  Ventilate eaves and ridge.  A ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents circulates cold air under the entire roof. Both ridge and soffit vents should have the same size openings and provide at least one square foot of opening for every 300 square feet of attic floor. Place baffles at the eaves to maintain a clear path for the airflow from the soffit vents.
3)  Be sure your attic hatch is sealed or your whole-house attic fan is covered with weather stripping to prevent heat from escaping from the attic.
4)  Make certain that any ducts connected to kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents lead outdoors through either the roof or walls … never through the soffit.
5)  Add insulation to the attic floor which will keep the heat where it belongs – in the house and not escaping through the roof.
6)  Check the flashing around the chimney and dormers.  Be sure to use steel flashing held in place with unbroken beads of a fire-stop sealant.  Don’t use canned spray foam – it isn’t safe!
7)  Be sure that you have fiber-reinforced mastic on the joints of HVAC ducts and exhaust ducts.  They should be covered with R-5 or R-6 foil-faced fiberglass.
8)  Seal around electrical cables and vent pipes with a fire-stop sealant.  Look for spots where light shines up from below or the insulation is stained black by the dirt from air flow.
Resource:  This Old House www.thisoldhouse.com

Holiday Heat Saving Tips from Wilson Brothers Heating & Cooling

The holiday season is upon us.  You may be wondering how you can save a little extra on your energy and heating bills, whether you’re traveling or hosting family.  Here are a few tips from Wilson Brothers to help you keep a few extra dollars in your pocket this holiday season.

Hosting:

  1. While hosting guests at your house you may feel the need to crank up the heat for them.  The opposite is actually true.  Before guests arrive in your home, drop your thermostat by 2 degrees and allow your guests to “naturally” heat your home.
  2. Turn down or turn off the heat in the kitchen.  You’re likely to have the stove and oven cranked all day.  Consider turning off or turning down the heat in your kitchen.  Let your food prep help to heat your home and this will also keep you more comfortable while cooking.  Once you’re done cooking, open your oven door and let the heat of the oven out (if it’s safe to do so, be careful of pets and little ones).  This heat will keep your kitchen warm for additional time after dinner.
  3. Burn smartly.  If you plan to have a fire or run your wood stove, turn down that heat! The fire is fueled by the air in the room, so once the flame is out, your furnace works overtime to replace that warm air.
  4. Make your thermostat work for you.  Programmable thermostats are your best friend all year long, but can be especially helpful during the holidays.  Program it to be lower when no one is home and when you’re asleep.
  5. Use the sun wisely.  Open your shades on the windows that get sun.  You’ll be amazed as to how much this can warm up your home!

Thermostat Installation, Heat Savings Heat Pump Installation, Hot Water Heater Installation, Westford MA, Chelmsford MA, Lowell MA, Nashua NH, Dunstable MA, Groton MA, Ayer MA

Traveling:

  1. Thermal curtains and insulation.  While you’re planning to be away, your house won’t be inhabited so it will make it more difficult to keep it warm.  By insulating doors, drafts and leaks in your system before you leave, you’ll keep your empty home warmer and more efficient.
  2. Turn down that hot water heater.  If no one is home, you’re hot water won’t be running.  Turn your hot water heater down to low or “vacation mode”.  Just remember to turn it back up when you return and a few hours before you jump in the shower.
  3. Turn down your thermostat but not too much.  We live in New England, we know storms, power outages and sudden cold snaps happen. Turn your thermostat down to 58-60 degrees.  This will keep your house warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing.
  4. Have a neighbor keep an eye out.  If the weather is expected to make a turn for the worse while you’re away, have a neighbor turn your heat up in case of a power outage.
  5. Turn off all space heaters.  This is the number one cause of fires during the winter.  Leaving a space heater on while you’re away can result in your home being a lump of coal when you return.

Have a happy and safe holiday from all of us at Wilson Brothers!

This isn’t Your Grandparents Heat Pump! Today’s Technology Means This Heat Pump Delivers Efficiency Even in New England!

Heat Pump Installation in Central MA

For every dollar of electricity you use on a heat pump, you get back $2 to $4 of heat. Now that is real energy efficiency! You see, a heat pump doesn’t “make” heat – it extracts heat from the outside air.

A great example of a one-way heat pump is your refrigerator. It removes heat from the air inside the refrigerator and moves it to the coils on the back or bottom of the refrigerator. A heat pump uses the same principle – extracting heat from the air and moving it to where it is needed. The winter air holds heat, even when the outside temperature gets down to zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Here’s how: when it is 47 degrees outside, an air-to-air heat pump extracts three units of energy for each unit of energy they consume. At 17 degrees, it extracts two units of energy for each unit of energy consumed. When the temperature dips even lower, that’s when your fuel-eating furnace kicks in.

Heat pumps are reliable. In fact, studies show that after 20 years of operation, more than half of the heat pumps were still working. Of those that were removed, less than half were for mechanical failures. The rest were for other reasons, such as upgrading to a newer, more efficient model or a different size.

Another reason to install a heat pump is that it “morphs” into an air conditioner in the summer. Instead of moving the heat inside, it reverses operation and collects the heat from inside the home and moves it outside. A heat pump is ideal for homes without ducts. No need to spend money to install ducts for central air. Your heat pump will provide cool air while saving energy and money.

Mitsubishi Heat Pump, Ductless Heat Pump, Energy Efficient, Pepperell MA, Methuen MA, Lowell MA, Billerica MA, Townshend MA, Nashua NH, Tyngsboro, Westford MA, Littletone MA, Nashoba Valley MA

Heating and cooling your home accounts for about half of your home energy use. Installing a heat pump is an easy way to take a bite out of your energy bills while maintaining year-round comfort.

Five Reasons to Install a Heat Pump:

 

  1. Save money on energy year-round.
  2. Get air conditioning in the summer without ducts.
  3. Beautify your home by getting rid of window a/c units.
  4. Help the environment by using less oil or gas.
  5. Enjoy whisper-quiet operation and all-season comfort.
  6. Get a FREE ESTIMATE from Wilson Brothers today for more information about installing a heat pump and to set up an appointment for a no-obligation estimate.

    Heat Savings MA | Heat Pump Installations Pepperell, Westford, Lowell MA, Nashua NH, Littleton MA, Chelmsford MA, Groton MA, Ayer MA, Shirley MA, Leominster MA

What is the Mass Save Heat Loan?

Participating lenders offer 0% loans up to $25,000 (depending on the utility and the lender) with terms up to 7 years! To qualify for this type of loan, you must have a Mass Save Home Energy Assessment and install qualified energy efficiency measures recommended by a Mass Save representative.

You can get a loan from participating banks for zero interest to install energy efficient systems! No interest at all! And … it isn’t as complicated as it might sound!

Simply call Mass Save at 866-527-7983 and request a Home Energy Assessment. There is no cost or obligation. A Mass Save representative will go to your home and check windows; doors; attic, wall and basement insulation; and light fixtures and will give you a comprehensive report with recommenda- tions on how you can save energy and money.

The following energy efficiency improvements are eligible for the HEAT Loan Program:

  • High Efficiency Heating Systems
  • Central Air Conditioning/ Air Source Heat Pumps
  • Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps
  • High Efficiency Domestic Hot Water Systems
  • Solar Hot Water Systems
  • Attic, Wall, and Basement Insulation
  • 7-Day Digital & Wi Fi Thermostats
  • ENERGY STAR® Qualified Replacement Windows

Once your Energy Audit is completed you will receive a Heat Loan Intake Form which you will need to review and sign.

The staff at Wilson Brothers Heating and Air Conditioning will help you to navigate through the application process and provide you with a list of participating lenders. We are available to answer any question you may have about the proper equipment to install and the Heat Loan Program process.

Visit the Mass Save website to learn more about this program, available to residential customers of National Grid, NSTAR Electric and Gas, and Unitil or call Wilson Brothers at 978-433-5373 or 800-498-5373.

Winter is Coming, Have your heating system tuned-up & maintained

We’ve had everything thrown at us, weather-wise, in the past few years.  We should be used to it.  Early October snowstorms, ice storms, tornado warnings with rain and hail … One thing we know for sure:  Winter is coming and we better be prepared!

Being prepared in New England means more than just having your heating system inspected, tuned up, and maintained.  That’s a given and should be done sooner, rather than later.

I’m talking about a PLAN B!
Do you have one?

Years ago, people in this neck of the woods had a wood stove that came in handy when they had problems with their furnace or there was an unexpected power outage.  Back then, getting a furnace or boiler back up and running after a mechanical failure took time (it sometimes still does).

Over the years, we have grown to take for granted that an “emergency call” for having no heat would be fixed immediately.  However, it sometimes takes days to obtain special parts.

And … we are all too familiar with power outages that can take days or weeks in some cases to return to normal.

So … what can we do?  What is our contingency plan?

You need to protect your home, not just to have the all-season comfort you desire, but also to ensure that pipes don’t burst in homes with no heat because of a power failure or system breakdown.

Talk to us at Wilson Brothers Heating and Cooling to put your PLAN B together.  Your home is your biggest investment and needs protection when the New England weather strikes hard.   We’ll be happy to discuss how each of the following can protect you for the period of time when your heating system is disrupted for any reason:

*    Wood stove
*    Propane or natural gas fireplace insert
*    Whole house generator
*    Electric Heater
If you haven’t had your heating system inspected and tuned up for the 2014 Winter season, call us today for an appointment: 978-433-5373.

The Benefits of Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces have several advantages over electric and wood-burning fireplaces. In addition to offering the beauty and ambience of other fireplaces, natural gas fireplaces are highly efficient at supplying heat to a room. Natural gas fireplaces do not require ash cleanup, chimney maintenance, or wood storage. They are less expensive than electrical fireplaces, and do not produce indoor smoke or ash like wood-burning fireplaces. Learn more about how easy it is for a qualified technician to install a gas fireplace, whether you are working with an empty wall or an existing wood-burning fireplace.

Wilson Brothers installs safe, reliable gas fireplaces for customers in Concord, MA and surrounding areas. With the supplemental heat provided by your new fireplace, you can turn down the thermostat in your home and save money. Call Wilson Brothers at (888) 865-4162 or visit our website for more information.

More from Wilson Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning: Benefits of Gas Fireplaces, install a gas fireplace, chimney maintenance

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