Prepare Your Home For Winter With These Heating Safe

The weather continues to grow colder and that means people continue to reach for their heating equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment caused 21% of home fire deaths in 2010. No matter how you stay warm this winter, we want you to be safe, so we compiled a list of safety tips for each heating source.

Furnace

To ensure safe operation of your furnace all winter long, we recommend the following actions:

Get an annual furnace inspection to ensure your furnace is operating safely.

Make sure your furnace is properly vented.

Clear the area around the furnace of combustible materials.

Wood Stove

Wood stoves cause over 9,000 residential fires each year, according to the U.S. Fire 

Administration. To prevent this, make sure your wood stove is safe by observing the following:

Burn only dry, seasoned wood. This produces more heat and prevents creosote buildup, which can damage your flue.

Flue vents should be inspected and cleaned at least annually

Do not put trash or artificial logs in the stove.

Install working fire/smoke alarms and test them regularly.

Fireplace

A fireplace can offer both relaxation and warmth. Many families associate the winter and holiday seasons with gatherings around the fireplace. Here are a few ways you can keep your fireplace safe:

Never leave a fire unattended.

Watch children and pets around the fireplace.

Use the metal mesh screen to keep embers from coming into your home.

Never burn cardboard or other garbage in the fireplace.

Do not use flammable liquids to start fires.

Make sure there are no branches hanging above your chimney.

Electric Space Heater

The elements of some electric space heaters get hot enough to ignite combustible materials if care is not taken. When using your electric space heater this winter, remember these tips:

Buy and use only space heaters evaluated by a national-recognized laboratory, such as 

Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Unplug the space heater when not in use.

Do not use the space heater to dry clothes and do not store items on top of them.

Keep combustibles at least three feet away from space heaters.

Avoid using electric space heaters where they may come in contact with water.

Kerosene Heater

Before purchasing a kerosene heater, check with the local fire department to make sure that they are allowed in residential applications in your area. You may also want to check with you homeowner’s insurance company to see if damage caused by kerosene heaters is covered in your policy. If you have a kerosene heater, or are purchasing one, take heed of the following.

Purchase and use only kerosene heaters with an UL evaluation.

Use only in well-ventilated areas.

Do not put other fuel sources in a kerosene heater.

Refuel the heater outside of the house.

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As the weather grows colder and you turn more and more to heat sources to keep yourself warm, remember these tips to keep your family and your home safe this winter.


Questions For Your Next Heating or Cooling Company

Don’t be intimidated by the daunting task of finding the right HVAC company for your new heating or cooling equipment. We know you want someone who will not only do a great job, but also be a professional while at your home. Therefore, we’ve devised five simple questions to ask during the estimate that will help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

1. How long will this project take? Although a seemingly obvious question, the answer may help you choose between two otherwise similar companies. If you need the work done sooner, is there an additional charge? How will they accommodate your schedule? Make sure they will be able to work out those details with you.

2. Can you provide proof that you are properly licensed and insured? Reputable heating and air companies are licensed with the state, county or other governing bodies in which they reside. A license means that the company has put in the time to go through the process of registering and is in it for the long haul. The correct insurance is equally important. If something were to happen on your property during the work, you want to make sure that you are not held liable.

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3. Do you offer any type of guarantee or warranty?  Once a job is over, does the company stand behind their work? Most reputable companies will offer some sort of guarantee on the work, and many will also have warranties on the equipment they install. Make sure to get the specifics on any type of guarantees or warranties in writing.

4. What is included in the price?  This may seem like a no-brainer in an estimate, but it often goes unasked. Does the company offer a guaranteed up-front price for the job? Or do they bill per hour? Get a list of exactly what is included in the price. That way, when comparing multiple estimates, you know what you’re getting in the price and there will be no surprises later.

5. What benefits do you offer? You will want to tweak this question to fit your individual needs. The point is to find out if there are currently any special offers or tax incentives out there that you may qualify for. Also, ask about energy consumption. Is there a slightly more expensive option that is much more efficient and saves you money in the long-term?

These five must-ask questions will make your next quest for an HVAC estimate much less intimidating. By having a set of criteria to judge each company, you can more easily compare estimates and decide on the best fit for you.


Problems With Your HVAC System? Could Be Your Thermostat

Does it shut off before reaching the desired temperature? Does  it continuously continuously turn on and off in short cycles? Don’t immediately blame your heater or air conditioner. The true culprit could be your thermostat.

Although small, your thermostat plays a significant role in your home’s comfort and it could be the real issue is one of these three common thermostat problems.

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Bad Location

By far, the most common thermostat problem is improper placement. It sounds minor, but where you place your thermostat in your home plays a large role in your comfort level and your system’s efficiency. If a thermostat is placed too close to a vent or in direct sunlight, it will give inaccurate readings or cause your heating and cooling system to work harder than it needs to.

Where to place your thermostat:

Out of direct sunlight – If the thermostat is getting a lot of direct sun, it will register a higher temperature than the rest of your home. That means in the winter during the day your heater won’t turn on, and in the summer your air conditioner will work overtime.

Away from vents – Thermostats that are placed too closely to vents often shut off your comfort system prematurely. For example, a thermostat may turn on your cooling system, but the vent quickly cools the area around the thermostat, causing it to turn off the air conditioner before the rest of the home is cooled.

Near the center of your home – Ideally, your thermostat should be reading the median (average) temperature of your home. This ensures more even heating and cooling throughout your home. Hallways just outside bedrooms are usually good places. Keep it away from kitchens and any appliances that give off heat.

Accumulation of Dirt or Dust

Over time, dust and dirt accumulate on the inside of your thermostat. This can lead to inaccurate temperature readings that cause your cooling and heating system to function incorrectly. To fix this common thermostat problem, remove the housing and use a soft brush to gently clean the moving parts.

Old, Inaccurate Model

It may be that your thermostat problem is simply a result of an older thermostat that could benefit from being replaced. Older mercury-based thermostats are less accurate than today’s digital, electronic thermostats. Modern programmable thermostats regulate your temperature within one or two degrees of accuracy and help you save up to 15% on your energy bills by only running your system when you are home and awake.