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How is the air in your home?

< 1 minute read


How’s the air in your home?

We tend to think of air pollution as an outdoor problem impacting mostly large cities – and we feel safe and protected inside our homes. However, a recent article by Consumer Affairs says that is far from the truth, especially in newer, tighter houses.

Without improved ventilation, The American Lung Association warns that air in the home can lead to asthma, infections and even cancer.

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Top 5 Ways to Weather Winter Storms

2 minute read

5 Ways to Weather Winter Storms

February started off with a winter storm that delivered hazardous driving conditions and frigid temperatures from Kansas to Michigan; dumping 20 inches of snow in some areas before setting its sights on the snow-weary Northeast, The Weather Channel reports. Use the winter storm safety tips below to keep you and your family protected.

The latest round of snow is a sure sign the 2015 Blizzard season is underway. Homeowners need to prepare for even more winter weather in the coming weeks. Staying safe during a winter storm requires common sense as well as preparation.

Winter Storm Safety: Don’t Get Buried – Prepare Early


While people rush to hardware and grocery stores after hearing a forecast, there is no need procrastinate. It’s a good idea to pick up last-minute essentials such as food, but winter storm safety  requires being ready for every snow event, not just the big one.

Top 5 Winter Storm Safety Tips

  1. Prepare for power failures: Stock up on batteries for flashlights and small lanterns. Also keep candles on hand as they provide light and some heat.
  2. Keep out the cold: Add insulation to water pipes to prevent freezing in a power outage. Increasing attic insulation and investing in new windows also helps keep warm air in and cold air out.
  3. Be ready to stay indoors: February often means spending more time indoors. With the continued heating of the home, dry air can become a problem that leads to decreased comfort, health issues and damage to the home. Humidifiers are the most effective way to add moisture to a home’s air.
  4. Inspect your car: Maintaining tires and batteries are two of the best investments commuters can make in the winter. A hard to turn over engine is a major sign of a failing battery. A battery should be replaced or inspected every 3 years, according to Firestone. To check tire condition, use the penny test. Simply place a penny in the tread. Get new all-season tires if you can see Lincoln’s head.
  5. Shop before the snow arrives: Even in northern parts of the country, homeowners often wait until a winter storm hits to check the snow blower or replace last year’s broken shovel. Purchasing or repairing these items early in the season can keep a family a step ahead when hazardous weather arrives, since stores struggle to keep these items on the shelf during a blizzard.

Winterizing a home and car can reduce the impact of the winter storms that are sure to continue throughout February. Don’t leave safety and comfort at the mercy of Mother Nature this year, prepare today.

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Rising Propane Costs in Winter

< 1 minute read


Rising Propane Costs During Winter Season Hurt Budget

To keep your budget balanced this winter, make note of these cold-weather savings tips from our blog.

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6 Tips for Curbing Propane Prices

2 minute read


Homeowners can’t change propane prices, but they can take control of their energy bills by following some simple tips.

With the 2014 polar vortex still a fresh memory, an early-season arctic chill has already blown over much of the nation, according to CNN. The cold snap – which brought record November lows to nearly every region – has many homeowners thinking about winter energy savings and how they will cope with unpredictable propane prices.

6 tips for curbing propane prices

A frigid and snowy start to 2014 drove up propane prices. Demand increased and harsh winter weather interrupted supply lines. Those relying on electric or natural gas also experienced higher bills. Regardless of the fuel source a home uses, everyone can conserve energy in similar ways. Often, a number of bad habits during winter exaggerate the costs of keeping a home warm.

Keep the lights off:

Not only does it become colder in the winter, it also gets darker. Homeowners should keep lights off in unoccupied rooms, including closets, garages and offices. This also goes for shutting down TVs, computers and other electronics that aren’t in use.

Use a programmable thermostat:

When no one is home, keeping a house at 74 degrees is no more beneficial than keeping it at 58 degrees. For those who don’t want to come home to a cold house, though, a programmable thermostat is the answer. Automatically raise the temperature just before family members arrive home, saving energy without sacrificing comfort.

Lock in service when propane prices are low:

In most cases, it’s best to lock in a yearly rate in mid-summer, when demand is low. Technically, an energy customer could come out behind on the very off chance that propane prices fall later in the season. However, this is rare and purchasing before blizzards hit is a wallet saver if propane prices nearly triple in January – which they did in 2014, according to The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration News.

Dress for the weather:

It’s not practical to wear shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter – even inside. Sweaters and thick socks allow homeowners to keep their thermostat setting low while still staying comfortable. Family members should also wear flannel pajamas to bed and grab extra blankets, so the temperature can be lowered even further when everyone is sleeping.

Apply plastic over windows:

According to Popular Mechanics, using clear plastic insulation kits for windows and patio doors is another great way to save money during the winter.

Control Humidity:

A whole-home humidifier can also help homeowners stay cozy and energy conscious this winter. People feel more comfortable at lower temperatures when indoor relative humidity is under control.

While rising propane prices and energy bills will become frustrating this winter, homeowners don’t need to put their bank accounts at the mercy of the weather. With some small sacrifices, new technologies and good habits, families can realize real savings without reducing their comfort in the home.

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Winter got off to an early start this year…

3 minute read

Polar Vortex Signals Early Winter

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

An early round of arctic air is reminding those in the U.S. about the need to prepare for the polar vortex.

Winter got off to an early start this year. Much of the nation has seen temperatures plunge as frigid arctic air dips south. Early predictions by AccuWeather suggest the polar vortex will provide multiple blasts of cold air this winter. The one bit of good news is that the mass of arctic air should march in and then retreat, as opposed to lingering for several months.

However, in mid-November record lows were shattered across the country and nearly 50 percent of the contiguous U.S. was covered in snow – the highest percentage since NOAA began tracking the figure, according to The Weather Channel.

Protecting Loved Ones from the polar vortex

While the polar vortex will make heading outside a miserable experience, it will make sitting inside less fun too. Families should prepare now for what will be another long winter. Homeowners who have not had their furnace system checked and cleaned need to do so. Also consider how you will deal with low humidity levels. Humidity refers to the amount of moisture that is in the air. As the relative humidity (RH) drops, the air begins to pull moisture out of anything that it can – including people.

When cold outdoor air is brought into the home and heated, indoor relative humidity drops significantly. Because the furnace runs non-stop during a polar vortex, homes get very dry. Dry air causes a host of health and comfort issues, including:

  • Itchy, dry eyes
  • Cracked and itchy skin
  • Static shocks
  • Dry, itchy noses
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sore throat

Don’t Hang Your House Out To Dry

Humidity control is also integral to protecting a house and keeping heating bills down. Adding humidity when heating allows people to feel comfortable at lower temperatures. states that turning a thermostat back 10 – 15 degrees for eight hours can reduce heating bills by 5 – 15 percent a year. During a polar vortex, keeping the thermostat down a few degrees could quickly add up to big savings.

Just like people, a house also “feels” the pressures of a polar vortex. Dry air can cause expensive electronic devices to fail, create cracks in wood floors and damage instruments and furniture. Ensuring that dry air doesn’t suck the life out of a house requires adding moisture throughout the heating season. A family’s daily routines, such as cooking, bathing and doing laundry add some moisture to the home each day – but not enough to maintain optimal levels.

How to Control the Humidity in Your Home

Humidifiers are designed to efficiently and effectively control indoor RH during the winter months. Some people sleep with a small humidifier by their bed to prevent a dry throat in the morning, or purchase larger units to raise the RH in an entire room.

Many homeowners can also benefit from whole-house humidification solutions. A whole-home humidifier adds moisture to every room by using the duct system of the furnace. Installed by an HVAC contractor, whole-house humidification products can also automatically change the amount of moisture being added depending on variables such as indoor and outdoor temperature. By continually monitoring and controlling how much humidity is added, automatic humidifiers raise RH without causing condensation to form on windows or walls.

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Tips to Stay Warm

< 1 minute read


We all tend to reach for the thermostat when the house gets a little chilly, but sometimes thicker socks or some hot tea is more than enough. Before you crank the heat, try some simple tips for staying warm while also saving electricity. And don’t forget that proper humidity control can also make your house more comfortable at lower temperatures.

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Enterovirus D68: Top Tips to Prevent Infection

2 minute read


As fall approaches, more young kids could be heading to the hospital with severe respiratory illness. The culprit is a particularly brutal strain enterovirus. While it’s common for an enterovirus to circulate each year in the summer and fall, the number of confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68 this year is significantly higher than previous years, according to the CDC.

D68 is just one strain of a number of non-polio enteroviruses, with symptoms that range from mild to severe. Infants, children and teens are the most likely to become infected because they lack antibodies from a prior exposure. The CDC reports that mild symptoms of enterovirus are aches, fever, cough and a runny nose – similar to that of the common cold.

However, in severe cases, children infected with D68 have wheezing and difficulty breathing. These respiratory complications have led to an increase in hospitalizations as a result of this year’s strain. Children with asthma are at especially high risk for severe symptoms as a result of an infection.

Top Enterovirus Prevention Steps from the CDC

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching eyes and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If someone is sick, avoid touching, kissing, hugging and sharing cups or utensils with the person.
  • To prevent infection to others, stay home when feeling ill.
  • Use disinfectant on commonly used surfaces
  • Children with asthma should be sure they have their reliever with them at all times and take prescribed medications as directed

Reducing the Transmission of Infections such as Enterovirus

This year’s enterovirus is just one of many airborne infections that may lead to absences for kids and adults. Enterovirus is predicted to taper off as winter approaches, but other viruses will be right around the corner.  Improving indoor air quality (IAQ) also helps keep your family healthy this winter.

Controlling Air Purity and Relative Humidity

An air purifier is capable of trapping 80 percent of virus-sized particles that pass through a home’s HVAC system. Since many seasonal cold and flu viruses are airborne, a whole-home air purifier may help reduce the transmission of the disease.

Another attribute of IAQ that could reduce infections indoors is relative humidity (RH). While humidity is often associated with comfort, virus transmission has been shown to increase in seasonably dry air. According to a report on the role of RH in the aerosol transmission of influenza, researchers concluded that “maintaining indoor relative humidity of greater than 40 percent will significantly reduce the infectivity of aerosolized [influenza].”