Healthy Home |

Getting to Know Your Smart Home

2 minute read

Technology in the home has evolved rapidly in recent years, making many housekeeping tasks easier and more efficient than ever. But sometimes all the setup, troubleshooting, and maintenance of a Smart Home can seem overwhelming and unnecessary. Are these new ways of completing familiar tasks worth the hassle?

Lighting

The right lighting can really transform different rooms in your home. The ability to dim lights or add lighting to previously dark areas will give you more control over the appearance and atmosphere of your home. This can be accomplished using smart bulbs, smart switches, or smart outlets. We recommend starting with smart bulbs to get a feel for what this technology can do. Using your phone or voice commands with a smart personal assistant device, you can turn on, off, and dim smart bulbs from anywhere. And perhaps best of all, it won’t be a constant battle to remind your kids to turn the lights off. They’ll just have their personal assistant do it.

Locks

Smart home locks make it easier to enter and exit your home, and harder for unwanted people to enter. Smart locks can sense you and your family’s presence by pairing with your phones. They unlock automatically without having to fumble for keys. Many of them offer temporary keys that allow one-time access for service providers, pet sitters, and others who may need to get in. You can manage it all on an easy-to-use app that gives you full control over your home’s accessibility and security.

Thermostat

It’s nice when your home feels effortlessly comfortable—that’s where smart thermostats can help. They feature easy scheduling so you can automatically drop the temperature at night for comfortable rest or turn off the system while you’re away on vacation to help conserve electricity. Some even integrate with your whole-home humidifier, air purifier, and entire HVAC system to control all aspects of the air and the temperature in your home. Now that’s cool. (But if it’s too cool, just grab your phone and turn down the air!)

Landscaping

Using sprinklers to keep your lawn greener than the neighbor’s? You’re already one step above manual watering! “Smart Sprinklers” are the next logical move. They go beyond a regular watering schedule to monitor different zones of your lawn that may require more water because they see lots of sunlight. They even use weather data to turn off sprinklers if a rainstorm is on the way. This all happens automatically, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Security

It’s important to feel safe in your smart home, and having a video monitoring system is an easy way to accomplish that. They’re most often motion-activated, which helps save electricity and makes it easier to distinguish when there might actually be a problem or intruder. Whether you’re at home or away, most systems let you watch live footage on your cell phone and save clips to share with family or law enforcement. After installing the cameras, all setup and control happens right on your phone. So if you’re comfortable with that, managing your security system won’t be an issue.

Replace Your Furnace

Healthy Home |

Think in Advance: 6 Things to Consider When Planning to Replace Your Furnace

2 minute read

Chances are your HVAC system or furnace isn’t at the top of your mind. But maybe it should be. While many people find themselves faced with unplanned issues, there are lots of ways to be an educated consumer and keep your system running smoothly.

Here are 6 ways to be proactive and know when it’s time to replace your furnace before it goes out unexpectedly.

When to Replace Your Furnace

Old System

While some may last longer than others, a furnace should realistically be replaced every 15-30 years. While it may seem like it’s still working effectively, there can be issues internally that could lead to health hazards attributed to old furnaces such as dry skin, irritated asthma and allergies, or potentially even more serious conditions. It’s important to be aware of your furnace’s age and replace it before any health issues arise.

Strange Noises

If your furnace is making unusual noises during standard operation, there could be something wrong. You should be familiar with the noise it makes as it begins a heating cycle, and maybe you’ll hear a pop or click here and there. But new or troubling noises such as squealing, thumping, banging, or repeated clicking could be cause for concern.

Temperature Fluctuations

One obvious sign of a working furnace is if your home is a consistent, comfortable temperature. If you begin to experience temperature fluctuations throughout your home, that is a sure sign that your furnace needs to be replaced or repaired.

Dirty Furnace Register

Properly placed and sized furnace registers are crucial to an efficient HVAC system. If you notice that yours is dirty, collecting soot, or not filtering properly, that could be indicative of a larger problem. If these problems persist, you should prioritize getting your system checked or replaced.

High Costs

We like to think of energy bills as a furnace’s trusty fortune teller. Over time, your furnace may lose its efficiency and, as a result, your gas bills may skyrocket. You should keep track of your bills and the work you put into your system to assess when you may need to make repairs or replace your furnace.

Furnace Flames

The actual flames inside your furnace could tell you when it’s time for a replacement. A steady blue flame is normal and a sign that your furnace’s combustion is operating normally. If the flame is yellow or orange, this usually indicates incomplete combustion. This is often a sign that your furnace does not have much time left and will need to be replaced almost immediately.

Find A Healthy Air Pro to Replace Your Furnace

It can be hard to decide when to replace your furnace or HVAC system, but it is so important to get ahead of any potential issues that could lead to unexpected costs and more work. If you plan for anything that could arise, you will be in a better position down the road.

Contact an Aprilaire Healthy Air Professional to address any of these issues and find out how we design and build whole-home solutions to help you manage air purity, temperature, humidity, and fresh air supply for your home, no matter the location or environment.

While you’re at it, consider Aprilaire’s Indoor Air Quality solutions for your home and tackle everything at once with your Pro. Find a pro today!

unplanned HVAC issues

Healthy Home |

Expect the Unexpected: 5 Unplanned HVAC Issues That Require Immediate Service

3 minute read

Keeping your furnace and HVAC system running smoothly through all four seasons of the year is crucial to keeping your indoor air healthy and happy. But we know that not everybody can be an expert in that kind of technology – that’s why you have Aprilaire!

There are always going to be planned and unplanned issues that can arise in a homeowner’s HVAC system—whether you have a furnace, a boiler, or a geothermal heat pump—so it’s important to get ahead of taking care of them.

Below we will take you through the 5 most common unplanned HVAC issues you should be familiar with.

Shining a Light on Unplanned HVAC Issues

Thermostat Malfunctions

If your thermostat malfunctions, you can be left with no heat, no fan to force the hot air through your home, or no intermittent heat, which can all result in comfort problems. When a thermostat works properly, you can control the humidity in your home and gain the ventilation and Indoor Air Quality that you need.

Broken Motors

Airflow problems from broken fan motors and belts can cause your furnace to overheat and lose control of the temperature in your home. Your gas furnace is crucial during cold weather climates, but if your motor overheats and gives out, you will not be comfortable in your home because temperature will be compromised.

Dirty and Clogged Filters

Dirty or clogged air filters restrict airflow on your HVAC coils putting unnecessary strain on the central air conditioning and heating system. In addition to unhealthy air, you risk freezing evaporator coils, poor heating or cooling, high energy costs, even complete HVAC shutdown. With clogged air filters, it’s only a matter of time until your HVAC system breaks down or needs to be replaced. Repairs can cost hundreds of dollars while a replacement can be several thousand dollars. It is recommended to change standard 1-inch filters every 1-3 months and Aprilaire high-efficiency air filters every 6-12 months for peak performance.

Dirty air filters also lead to poor Indoor Air Quality symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

Intermittent and No Heat

Furnace, heating system pilot, or ignition control problems can cause intermittent or no heat. This problem can arise for a number of reasons. One reason could be the system is too old. The average life expectancy of a modern furnace is between 15 and 30 years if maintained properly. Be wary of your furnace’s age and plan to replace it. Other reasons you could experience intermittent heat include bad pressure switches, blocked pipes, and blocked drain lines.

Lack of Maintenance 

Neglecting regular maintenance can cause unexpected breakdowns, poor comfort, increased energy costs, and aging or failing ducts, which can compromise airflow. While there are a number of ways a furnace or HVAC system can unexpectedly require repair or attention, avoiding or neglecting maintenance is the one way to ensure you will have problems. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Replacing or repairing parts can be an investment, but regular maintenance will help you save money in the long run and protect the longevity of your HVAC system.

Creating Healthy Environments Together

Unexpected setbacks with your HVAC system can produce unhealthy air and cause discomfort within your home. Thanks to the experts at Aprilaire, your plan for maintaining your system and avoiding unexpected issues can be easy. While you’re at it, consider Aprilaire’s Indoor Air Quality solutions for your home and tackle everything at once with your Pro.

At Aprilaire, we design and build whole-home solutions to help you manage air purity, humidity, temperature, and fresh air supply in your home, no matter the location or environment. For help creating a Healthy Home, contact a certified Aprilaire Healthy Air Professional near you today.

St. Vincent de Paul

AA Homepage Articles | News |

2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

2 minute read

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We take the importance of caring for others to heart at Aprilaire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experiencing the Fight For Air Climb

2 minute read

Before the Fight For Air Climb

Entering the US Bank Center for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb was a rush of energy.

This seemed less like an arduous trek up 1,000 stairs and more of an indoor festival. There were volunteers ready to greet you and pump you up for the ensuing climb and people from different companies sitting at tables ready to hand out souvenirs.

They were probably also there to distract you after you just got done instinctively looking up toward the top of the 47-story US Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee becoming a little uneasy at the prospect of your journey upward.

Before you made your climb, you gathered as a team and took several escalators down to the basement level before getting warmed up with a quick aerobic routine. Then you took a long and winding tunnel where you greeted by more volunteers who were cheering you on. It was hard not to feel inspired and excited.

During the Fight For Air Climb

One-by-one people took off up toward the top of the US Bank Center to begin their Fight For Air Climb. I, like most, started off confidently and quickly. I took the first six flights easily, but then by flight eight, I began to fight for air. I now understand why they title this climb just that. My mind and my body were at odds. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to continue at the same pace to get it over with as quickly as possible or to slow down and feel better. I went with the former.

Everyone in the stairwell was trudging onward with the same dilemma. We all were gasping for air as we kept pushing up each step and each flight toward the top of the Fight For Air Climb. At several points, I wondered if I was actually making any progress.

Every 10 flights there was a group of volunteers handing out cups of water and words of encouragement. Both were sorely needed to help push me along.

With each passing flight, I kept a tally of how many flights I had left. Twenty flights down, 27 more flights to go; 30 flights down, 17 flights to go; Ok, 40 flights down, 7 to go. By the time I got to the 40th floor, I knew I could make the last push to make it to the top of my Fight For Air Climb journey.

After the Fight For Air Climb

Eventually, I reached the top after 9 minutes and 31 seconds. At the top of the stairwell, I was met by volunteers who were cheering me on and by other climbers who were also catching their breath and taking in the picturesque views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan afforded to us by the tallest building in Wisconsin.

As I grabbed a water and walked around soaking in both the views of the city and my accomplishment, it was really cool to watch teams taking pictures together or greeting other climbers with high-fives and smiles. There was a certain camaraderie found in a common struggle.

Despite the lingering soreness, I cannot wait for next year’s climb. No matter if I beat my time from this year or not, it’s about fighting for air together and helping those impacted with lung disease.

To join an upcoming climb in a city near you, visit www.lung.org/aprilaire.

flights

AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

2 minute read

Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer