Give Yourself The Gift Of A Humidifier This Winter

Humidity gets a bad rap thanks to what we know about summertime humidity: the thick, stifling, and damp coating in the air. Hence the famed phrase It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity… we all mutter as yet another potentially good hair day bites the dust. Because of this negative connotation, people often neglect humidity’s importance during the winter months.

The frigid cold air of winter dries up humidity (moisture) in the air. This dehydration withers signs of plant life and causes many uncomfortable side effects within our homes. Call in the humidifier. Humidifiers re-introduce moisture into the air to reduce the effects of dry air and create a more comfortable environment by promoting better air quality and health throughout your home.

Humidifier Winter

If there’s a time to invest in a humidifier, it’s now. We’ve come prepared with some ways a humidifier will become one of your best assets this winter and a welcomed gift for your family.

Would you like more tips on how to increase your air efficiency? Read our blog for savvy advice from the experts at I Want SMART!

Better Personal Health

If you have to ask yourself if you need a humidifier, the likely answer is no. If you truly need a humidifier, you’ll feel it. Most everyone is familiar with the usual telltale signs of winter air: parched and itchy skin, cracked knuckles, dry eyes, chapped lips, irritated nasal passages, snoring, or any combination of the above. All are worsened when the air is moisture-deficient. In addition to aloe, moisturizing lotions, and lip balm, a humidifier works to abate these symptoms.

Lessen Congestion and Sinus Pressure

They don’t call it “cold and flu season” for nothing! Your respiratory system also suffers from the dryness of winter. Every time you breathe in icy air through your nose and throat, moisture is drained from your sinus passages. Those plagued with sinus congestion or seasonal coughs and colds will appreciate the reinvigorating hydration a humidifier can provide to hasten the healing process. Even if you’re not sick, a humidifier can help prevent illness and keep those vexing symptoms at bay.

Cost-Effectively Combat the Cold

Humidifiers work as hard to combat the cold as any other appliance. They help regulate indoor temperatures by raising humidity levels to add heat without having to physically turn up the heat. It’s the same principle in the summer when high humidity makes the outdoor temperature feel much hotter than it technically is. Humidifiers can thereby help stabilize your thermostat use to keep your costs in check.

Old House with Good Bones

Do you notice that your older home’s classic wood floors start creaking and cracking more than usual in the winter? Wood organically shrinks and splits in the cold without adequate moisture, making it less pliable. The effects aren’t limited to older homes nor wood floors. The caulk used in new homes along the baseboard trim and the countertops will shrink and crack due to lack of humidity. Humidifiers can offer a balanced indoor atmosphere by helping deliver tolerable air that is neither scorching nor overly wet and dank.

Do you need help in creating a more comfortable indoor climate this winter? Get in touch with I Want SMART to schedule an HVAC inspection!  

Six SMART Ways to Winterize Your Home

Winterize Home

There’s no way around it: winter is here. While there aren’t ways to stop Mother Nature in her tracks, there are ways to mitigate against her wrath. Winterizing your home is an important part of forming a solid defense against the effects of the bitter cold.

Winterizing your home refers to equipping your plumbing and HVAC for colder weather. Below-zero forecasts outside can cause freezing pipes and frigid temperatures inside that take a toll on your family. Not winterizing your home has a lot of potential consequences, including roof damage, increased risk of fire and/or carbon monoxide leaks, power outages, higher heating bills, insurance claims, and indoor flooding.

Winterizing your home can be simple, but you have to know where to start. We’ve provided a winterizing itinerary to help you make it through the winter without an HVAC or plumbing problem.

Change furnace filters

It’s easy to neglect, but replacing/cleaning your filters once or twice a month makes a world of difference in your air quality. Dirty filters can restrict the flow of treated and warm air throughout your home. Your system will have to work overtime and utilize more energy to compensate for blockage, which shows up on your monthly energy bills.

Wrap your pipes

Frozen pipes are one of the most common wintertime plumbing issues. Frozen pipes not only restrict water flow but can lead to burst pipes that add up to costly repairs.

When water molecules freeze, they expand as they crystallize and take up more space than when they’re in liquid form. The freezing ice then gradually pushes water towards the closed faucet, which creates tremendous pressure between the ice and faucet. The pipe soon ruptures under pressure in an area with very little or even no ice.

Have your pipes wrapped in insulation to prevent significant pipe damage and future repairs. In case of an emergency, make sure everyone in your home knows where the shut-off is. To save time and have peace of mind that it’s done correctly, find a certified professional to make sure your pipes and other areas of your home are well-insulated.

 

Install storm windows and doors

Storm doors and windows are extremely energy efficient by sealing in warm air and preventing significant drafts. No, not football drafts or beer on draft — we’re talking about the space between your door and your floor from which warm air escapes and cold air slips through. According to the Department of Energy, the average American spends $2,000/year on energy; of this, $200-$400 could be going to waste from drafts, air leaks and openings, and outdated HVAC systems. Although they may be a pain to install, storm windows and doors are well worth it in the end.

Clean the gutters

This is a dreaded seasonal chore that often ends in hiring a neighborhood kid to do the dirty work. But, whether you do it yourself or enlist the help of friends and family, it is a necessary job that needs to get done. Cleaning your gutters helps keep the water path clear and functioning. Debris otherwise creates barriers that restrict flow and allow ice to form. Either take a day to clean those gutters or start making phone calls before it gets too cold to do anything!

Keep up with your thermostat

It may be time to talk about replacing your outdated thermostat. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive in comparison to your utility bill costs. Shelling out a few hundred dollars for an electronic thermostat that is made to save you money is a wise investment.

Once you have your new thermostat, make sure you’re doing your best to optimize it. This means turning your heat down when you leave the house for an extended period of time, i.e. vacation (hopefully to somewhere warmer). This will cut down even further on your energy costs. Needless to say, a functioning thermostat is your best friend this winter.

Have your furnace inspected (if you haven’t already)

The only way to know for sure you’re heating your home efficiently is to have a professional inspect it. It’s advice that’s easy to justify in the moment: “Why would I spend money for someone to tell me that either everything is fine or things that I already know?” We get it. But, the more you do ahead of time ensures less maintenance in the long run. Plus, who wants to need repairs done when it’s freezing out? Furnace issues go undetected longer and more frequently than you’d think. Save yourself some heartache this winter and get that overdue furnace inspection.

Have more questions about your plumbing and HVAC? Our technicians are waiting.

Contact us today!

 

Stop Winter Allergens in Your Home

Stop Winter Allergens in Your Home

When it comes to seasonal allergies, most people know the ins and outs of the Spring and Fall allergy seasons. People may not know, however, that those irritable symptoms in the winter can be caused by concentrated allergens in your home or workplace.

Is it possible to have winter allergies?

Yes. Believe it or not, there are irritants brought on by the cold weather and enclosed living conditions. Mold, dust mites, pet dander, and dust are some of the most common irritants during the winter months. Without the ability to open your windows and let some fresh air inside, all of these air pollutants build up in your air ducts and filters.

Are you suffering from indoor allergens?

Side effects of winter allergies can often mirror the common cold. However, the common cold should only last around 10 days, so if your symptoms are continuous you might be suffering from indoor allergies. Coughing, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, runny noses, dry nasal passages, bloody noses, and dry skin conditions can all be related to indoor irritants.

What can I do to lessen my allergy symptoms?

There are many things that you can do in your own home to decrease those winter blues. Simple things you can do to stay proactive are dust, change your bedding and vacuum frequently. This cuts downs on dirt, dust, dander and dust mites. The next step is to make sure your house has a whole home humidifier to keep the climate from getting too dry. Most humidifiers today include an automatic humidifier control that will automatically adjust to outdoor temperatures to maintain optimal levels of relative humidity indoors. If you suffer from dry skin a whole house humidifying system can really help regulate the climate more efficiently in your home.

Air ducts can capture dust and pollutants that blow through the vents and travel throughout your home. Households that deal with seasonal allergies should look into getting whole house filtration systems. There are many high-efficiency filtration products available today. See your SMART Contractor for more information.

Finally, remember to contact your SMART provider to perform regular maintenance on your heating system and air filters. A simple system check and/or cleaning can do wonders for your home!

For more information on the services we offer, read more here.
HVAC New Year's resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions for Your HVAC System

 

The New Year can be a great time to make some changes regarding your HVAC system. Whether you’re looking to keep your air cleaner, save money or have your system work as efficiently as possible, here are some tips for you.

It may be a good time to install a programmable thermostat.

These thermostats can save you money, and allow you to better control your heating and cooling system uses. You can pre-program everything on the thermostat or your phone to allow for cooler temperatures when you’re not home during the day, ensuring that you get the most bang for your buck.

Find A SMART Contractor Today!

Write down reminders to check your air filters each month.

Air filters easily become covered with dust and dirt, which lowers the air quality in your home. Dirty filters also make your furnace or air conditioner work harder and run longer, which leads to more wear and tear on the system. Check the air filters every month and replace when necessary, and you will find the air quality in your home is much better and your system runs more efficiently.

Schedule routine HVAC maintenance.

You can contact us at any time and our contractors will make sure that your system is in good condition and they will be able to catch any problems early on so they can be fixed. Keeping up with the maintenance of your HVAC system will guarantee that it lasts longer and it will cut down on the energy used.

If you have any HVAC problems or help with your New Year’s resolutions, get in touch with a SMART contractor today.

heating-costs

5 Ways to Cut Down on Your Heating Costs This Winter

Thankfully, this winter hasn’t been anywhere near as cold as last year’s Polar Vortex. Still, that hasn’t stopped the occasional cold front from sweeping through, and without warning, the costs may have started to add up.

The good news: it’s still not too late to get started on lowering your heating costs. Here are 5 tips to get you started.

 

1) Get Your Hands on a Programmable Thermostat

If you’re looking to save some hard-earned cash, one of the easiest ways is to schedule out your heat usage. Turn your heat down during the day while you’re at work. You can also shave off a few degrees at night while you’re snuggled up in bed.

It’ll cost you a bit more initially (lower-end models only cost around $30), but you’ll make it up in no time. Doing this efficiently can save you as much as $200 per year.

 

2) Winter-proof Your Home

When was the last time you checked the caulk on your windows and doors? Every slight leak contributes to the overall heating of your home, and if you’re making your furnace work that much harder, you’re undoubtedly paying for it on the back end. Actions like wrapping your hot water heater with insulation and installing gaskets on outdoor outlets can go a long way. Weather stripping is another important method as well.

 

3) Invest in a High-efficiency HVAC System

 Just like the programmable thermostat, this one will cost you upfront, but the benefits are worth it for multiple reasons. Older systems have to work harder to produce the same amount of heat, leading to increased costs. Eliminate this and you’ll jettison the costly repair bills as well. Right now, we’re offering a $200 rebate for all furnace replacements through June 30, 2016. Take advantage while you can!

 

4) Get Your Existing HVAC System Cleaned

Have a newer system already? Make sure you get it cleaned. Even the best furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps can become clogged with dirt and dust, reducing their efficiency and costing you more money. Plus, keeping them in good condition can only help in the ongoing battle to increase their longevity. We’re currently offering a $50 rebate on all system clean and check appointments. Don’t miss out.

 

5) Limit Your Fireplace Usage

This may seem counterintuitive, as your fireplace obviously generates heat when lit. The problem lies in the chimney, as the warm air of your home will typically rise up into the night right behind the fire smoke. Just make sure that the damper is properly closed when the fireplace isn’t in use.

Need help with these? Contact your local SMART Contractor for all your HVAC needs.

extreme-temperatures-hvac

HVAC Tips to Survive Extremely Cold Temperatures

Extreme Cold HVAC Tip #1.

Drop Your Thermostat a Few Degrees: I Want Smart recommends dropping your thermostat from your currently desired level by 3-5 degrees. This is going to allow your furnace to not work as hard as it currently is to keep your home warm. With the average household keeping their furnace set in the high 60’s and low 70’s, dropping your thermostat 3-5 degrees will be a rather unnoticeable change that will help keep your furnace running.

Extreme Cold HVAC Tip #2.

Check Your Furnace Filters: Just to remind everyone, regardless of what time of the year it is, everyone should be replacing their furnace filter at least once a month to prevent buildup of debris and making your furnace run harder than necessary. However, during extremely cold times, your furnace will be running longer than usual which could cause there to be more debris than usual that builds up on your filter. You may have to replace your furnace filter more than once a month during extended periods of cold weather. We highly recommend keeping an eye on your furnace filter to make sure that it isn’t dirty on a daily basis during periods of extremely cold temperatures.

Extreme Cold HVAC Tip #3.

Keep All Exhaust Vents Clear: It is very important to understand how your furnace’s exhaust is vented. A great example is that of 90% Efficiency Furnaces. 90% Efficiency Furnaces are mostly vented through PVC pipe where it exits your home outside shortly above ground level. It is very important to check and see if that area is clear of snow and ice, otherwise the buildup will block the exhaust and cause your furnace to not function properly.

Extreme Cold HVAC Tip #4.

Your Furnace May Still Not Warm Normally: It is entirely possible that your furnace may not be able to get your home’s temperature raised to your desired temperature on your thermostat. We would like to advise you that if this is the case, please use space heaters as a last resort as there are several safety concerns about their use. If your furnace is not warming to your desired temperature, please contact a local Smart Contractor for all your HVAC needs.

hvac-system-maintenance

Holiday HVAC System Maintenance Tips

The holidays are fast approaching—but while they are some of the happiest times of the year, they are also one of the busiest! People throughout the Chicagoland area (and all over the country) are preparing to travel or entertain guests.

What does this mean in terms of HVAC? Well, we suggest taking care of a few things now so you can have peace of mind during the holidays. Completely neglecting your HVAC system can not only leave your home uncomfortable for your guests but also increase the risk of fire or other health hazards—or expose your home to bursting pipes or other problems while you’re out of town.

What You Can Do to Prepare Your Home

We aren’t saying you need to go out and replace your furnace today (although if it’s more than 10 – 15 years old and has been malfunctioning more frequently, it may be a good idea to replace it sooner rather than later!), but there are a few things you can do to ensure your home will be comfortable and safe for the holidays:

  • Change your filters: Replace the filters in your heating system so you don’t have any indoor air quality or system breakdown worries.
  • Adjust the thermostat setting: Having more people in the house and cooking can create a warmer environment, reducing the need for high heat. If you’re going out of town, keep your heat on to prevent your pipes form bursting, but lower the temperature a bit to help keep your energy costs down.
  • Keep flammable objects in safe places: This one may seem obvious, but it can get hectic with kids running around and cooking in the kitchen. Be sure to keep things like blankets and wrapping paper away from heating systems (including small space heaters) to avoid fire hazards. If you’re traveling, do a quick check before leaving!
  • Consider alternative methods for heating: Did you know simple things like using your ceiling fans and keeping the shades open can help keep your home warm? On your fan, find the switch located on the base and turn it so that the blades rotate the opposite way (this helps circulate warm air trapped near the ceiling downwards into the rest of the room). Keep your blinds open to let in more natural light. Both of these can give your HVAC system some help so it doesn’t have to work as hard.
  • Get an HVAC inspection: A furnace maintenance visit can’t hurt! If you haven’t already scheduled an inspection, we recommend doing so before it gets too cold and the chaos of the holidays starts. HVAC system maintenance can catch minor issues before they become major problems and give you peace of mind when you’re entertaining or traveling.

HVAC Maintenance & Repair

If you need HVAC system maintenance or repair find an I Want Smart Contractor. We want to help you keep your home comfortable and safe this holiday season!

Claim your System Clean & Check Rebate Here!

preventive-furnace-maintenance

The Importance of Preventive Furnace Maintenance

Heating and cooling your home accounts for more than half of your annual energy costs. The key to minimizing your energy bills is keeping your heating and cooling equipment running as efficiently as possible by performing routine preventive maintenance. Routine maintenance will also extend the life of your heating and cooling equipment, which can save you money on HVAC repairs and replacement costs in the long run. Since winter is on it’s way, we wanted to specifically share the importance of preventive furnace maintenance.

Improve Furnace Efficiency

Next to the air conditioner, the furnace is one of the biggest energy users in your home. Routine preventative maintenance will keep your furnace running smoothly so as to minimize energy consumption and resulting energy costs. Although normal age-related efficiency loses can’t be avoided, preventative maintenance can maintain peak efficiency.

Prevent Major Furnace Repairs

In addition to lower energy consumption, an efficient furnace will also run into fewer mechanical and electrical problems than a furnace that is not very well maintained. If you schedule preventative maintenance with an I Want Smart HVAC contractor, the technician will also be able to spot any minor or developing furnace issues before they get any worse and require major repairs. This alone can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs over the life of your heating system.

Keep Warm and Comfortable

There’s another important advantage of maintaining your furnace: Your comfort! A well-maintained furnace will usually deliver optimal performance throughout the cold months, which means you can expect to stay warm all winter long without any surprise furnace problems. Furthermore, a well-maintained furnace may also help to improve indoor air quality and humidity levels for added comfort.

Make sure to check out the rebates we offer by clicking Here.