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Our Most Common FAQs

We Can Answer That!

We know the world of HVAC and plumbing can be a little overwhelming for those who aren’t familiar with it. That’s why at Oliver, we’re happy to answer any questions (short or long) you may have about your home or business’s operations. Here are some of our most common FAQs, answered:

What’s the best air conditioner size for my home?

If the size of your home has changed through an addition or other renovations, or you have made enhancements that affect air flow (such as window or door replacements or changes to your insulation), it may be time to have a professional perform a new Heat Load Calculation on your home to assess the proper size air conditioner. If you are installing one for the first time, a Heat Load Calculation is recommended.

How can I even out the heating and cooling of my home?

You can partially close the registers in the room(s) that are too hot or cold in order to force more airflow into other rooms of your home. (It’s never a good idea, however, to close the registers completely.) Another possible solution is to invest in a furnace equipped with a variable speed blower motor. These furnaces are designed to overcome airflow problems and keep the airflow steady throughout the entire house.

How does an air conditioning system actually work?

An air conditioning system consists of 2 parts: an outdoor unit (where liquid refrigerant is contained) and an indoor coil (where the refrigerant is pumped into). As the air moves across the air conditioning coil, the refrigerant removes the heat and moisture from the air by condensing it on the cold surface of the coil. Thus, an air conditioner not only cools, but also dehumidifies the air.

When should I call a plumber?

This depends on your own skill level and experience in making repairs. If the repair could cause water damage if not performed properly, you may want to call a plumber. It’s also a good idea to call one if you have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately (such as a major leak).

How do plumbers find leaks?

Finding leaks is mainly a visual process: a plumber will inspect all of your pipes for leaks and may use a dye test kit to identify a leak in a toilet. We offer FREE dye test kits as a courtesy to our customers, just give us a call or use the Request Estimate form to let us know you would like one.

If I go away for an extended period of time, what temperature should I set my thermostat to?

We recommend 55 degrees. It’s low enough to save you energy and money but a good temperature to protect your pipes and other vital parts of your structure.

How often do my filters need to be changed?

You should change your standard furnace filter every 6-8 weeks. Use your own judgment as to when to change it, but don’t let the filter get clogged, as this can cut down on the efficiency and/or cause damage to the unit.

What can reduce the air quality in my home?

A wide range of particulate matter can be in your home’s air including dust, pollen, animal hair and dander, dust mites, mold spores, cooking grease, smoke, bacteria, viruses and other respiratory diseases. These types of contaminants won’t affect all people, but they can affect some pretty seriously.

Why should I invest in a maintenance plan?

Our maintenance plans provide peace of mind. When your HVAC system is running at its best, you’ll worry less about major damages or a shortened lifespan. You’ll also get priority service, savings on repairs, and no overtime charges.

Which HVAC maintenance plan is right for me?

It depends on the level of protection you’re comfortable with. Most of our customers choose our Gold maintenance plan because there are no charges for covered repairs. If you have new equipment, you may find that the Silver maintenance plan provides you with sufficient coverage.

If there’s a question you have that wasn’t answered here, visit our FAQ page or call our HVAC experts!


5 Benefits of Commercial Duct Cleaning

Schedule Yours Today

People spend about 90% of their time indoors, which means clean air is a must. At Oliver, we provide residential duct cleaning to keep you and your family healthy, but we also provide commercial duct cleaning. Here’s how it can help your wallet, your building, and its occupants:

Airborne particle reduction

Indoor air can be up to 70 times more polluted than outdoor air, which means the occupants in your commercial building can be inhaling dust, dirt, mildew, pollen, smoke, fungi, and more on a day-to-day basis. A commercial duct cleaning can remove these particles and give your building cleaner air.

Improved productivity

Whether your commercial building is an office, a school, a hospital, a factory, or any other structure, clean air improves the productivity of the people inside. Students and faculty alike can focus and work harder when their environment is clean and air is easy to breathe.

Fewer sick days

When your air ducts are dirty, they can spread bacteria that cause sicknesses. As a commercial business, you want all of your employees to be healthy and working hard, and a duct cleaning can reduce the number of sick days that workers take.

Reduced energy costs

Just one millimeter of dust and dirt build-up can reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system by 21% (according to the EPA). Keeping your system clean can help maintain its efficiency and in return, can lower your energy bills.

Longer equipment life

When dirt, allergens, dust, and other particles build up, they can clog your HVAC system and cause it to fail. Regular duct cleanings can keep your equipment in top shape and running for years to come.

Interested in a commercial duct cleaning? Just leave it to the experts at Oliver! Our equipment is 99.7% efficient in removing microbial contaminants.


The Future of Toilets Could Be Water-Free

 Say Hello to a New Kind of Toilet

While many other household appliances have evolved, the toilet has stayed relatively the same. Until now. A company called Loowatt has developed a water-free toilet that could make a big impact. Here, our plumbing experts share a portion of a Quartz article written by Lina Zeldovich about the new technology:

“Eleonore Rartjarasoaniony – a 47-year-old mother, daughter and small-shop owner in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo – stands in the middle of her yard, watching two young men in colourful overalls and rubber boots service her new waterless Loowatt toilet, which replaced her pit latrine a few months ago. At her feet, two lean, long-legged chickens, flocked by a bunch of fluffy chicks, peck at anything remotely resembling food, including my shoes.

Inside a wooden shack behind her, Rartjarasoaniony’s elderly mother greets customers through a small window that overlooks the narrow, unpaved neighbourhood street. That’s Rartjarasoaniony’s shop, in which she sells a bit of everything – kitchen sponges, eggs laid by her hens and freshly brewed coffee, which she hands out to customers in small metal cups, rinsed in a bucket of water from a communal pump.

As she describes her new toilet in the soft Malagasy language – and Loowatt’s manager Anselme Andriamahavita translates – I discern the word tsara in the string of unfamiliar sounds. By now I’ve learned that tsara means ‘well’, as in wellbeing and healthy. Rartjarasoaniony switched to the new toilet because it’s cleaner and safer than her outhouse. “My family of four uses it, and so do my three tenants who rent the next house over – it’s included in the rent,” she says. “Even my son can use it,” she adds, echoing worries of all Malagasy mothers, terrified that their young children may one day fall into a pit and literally drown in shit.

Like most Madagascan residents, Rartjarasoaniony and her tenants don’t have modern sanitation systems in their homes, which are built with bricks hand-made from red Madagascan mud. While cellphones are ubiquitous in Antananarivo, flush toilets are not. Most people use “Malagasy toilets,” meaning outhouses. Out in the country, some villagers don’t even have those – when nature calls, they head to the bushes or into the fields. The more sophisticated Malagasies who do own latrines call it “going au natural.”

But latrines aren’t a hygienic solution either, and not only because they smell and are hard to keep clean. Madagascar has so much groundwater that many Antananarivo residents grow rice in their yards. When torrential rains hit, everything floods. The waste from latrines rises and floats into the yards, houses, shops and streets. The threat is very real. In a neighbour’s latrine across the street, the sordid grey goo almost reaches the pit’s surface, a clear menace come the next storm. “When we used the pit latrine before, and it rained, sometimes the water would come out,” Rartjarasoaniony tells me. “And we were afraid of getting sick because of the filth.”

Lack of toilets is not a problem unique to Madagascar. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.4 billion people lack access to basic toilet facilities, and nearly 1 billion can’t even do their business in private, practicing so-called “open defecation,” resorting to fields, street gutters or creeks. Many countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, face similar sanitation challenges, says Francis de los Reyes at North Carolina State University, who designs sanitation management solutions for developing counties.

In many places building a flushing toilet system, as we know it, is nearly impossible. Some places simply don’t have enough water. Some have too much, which complicates water treatment processes because of floods and overflows. Others don’t have the means to build the water-based infrastructure. That’s why Loowatt, a London-based startup, came up with a radically different flushing solution – one that doesn’t use water at all.

In Loowatt’s waterless flush design, the waste is sealed into a biodegradable bag underneath the toilet with not a drop of water being spilled. Once full, the bag is replaced by a service team, and the waste is brought (yes, hand-delivered) to Loowatt’s pilot waste-processing facility, where it’s converted to fertilizer and biogas.

This very manual setup sounds very archaic compared to the slick and convenient arrangements of the Western world. But sanitation experts think that in the era of climate change, when droughts and floods are becoming increasingly common, the West may have something to learn from the little waterless loos piloted in penniless Madagascan neighborhoods. With the world’s population ever-increasing, places that historically relied on water for sanitation may have to reconsider how they flush.

A whole new loo

Loowatt’s London-based founder and CEO Virginia Gardiner never thought she’d end up designing 21st-century toilets. When she graduated from Stanford University in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature, she couldn’t have been further removed from the engineering challenges of processing human waste. But then she went to work as a reporter for an architecture and design magazine, Dwell, covering industry events. “I was the youngest on the edit team. Nobody else wanted to go to the kitchen and bath industry shows, so I did,” she recalls. One of the things that struck her was that architectural concepts evolved constantly, except for toilets, which seemed to remain the same for ever.

“The first article I wrote for the magazine was about toilets – about the fact that they don’t change,” she says. She came to see the overall ‘bath culture’ as wasteful and decided toilets were due for an upgrade.

When Gardiner did her Master’s thesis at the Royal College of Art in London, she chose to focus it on a waterless toilet system. In 2010, she founded Loowatt and ran a money-raising campaign based around turning “shit” into a commodity. When in 2011 the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation issued the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge to devise sustainable sanitation technologies to handle the number one (and, well, the number two) of humankind’s basic necessities, the requirements matched Gardiner’s waterless design. She applied for the grant and got it.

More funding followed, including from Innovate UK, the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities Programme and, more recently, a RELX Group Environmental Challenge award. Serendipitously, a Canadian expat living in Madagascar learned about Gardiner’s project from her online video and became Loowatt’s first investor. That was the reason Loowatt launched its first single-toilet pilot and a small waste-processing facility in an impoverished Antananarivo neighbourhood.

The project killed two birds with one stone – giving people a toilet, and converting their waste to biogas, generating enough electricity to charge cellphones. When that proof of concept worked, Loowatt scaled up to its current size – 100 toilets serving about 800 customers.

In their basic appearance, Loowatt toilets don’t look much different from our Western johns, with their plastic seats and flushing handles, which come in the form of a pedal or a rope you pull. But instead of releasing a swirl of water into the basin, this move activates the white biodegradable film that envelopes and seals the waste, pushing it into a collector underneath the toilet, all odour-free. Loowatt’s service team replaces the biodegradable bag once a week, or more often if it fills up sooner.

Equipped with a small pushcart and collection bins, a two-person team conducts daily walks through the neighbourhood, gathering waste bags and doing repairs. The residents can also request service by text message when the bag fills up or if something breaks.

The Loowatt setup isn’t free – residents pay about £12 as a deposit for a toilet (which remains Loowatt’s property) and about £3 a month for service. For Madagascar, where some families exist on £1 a day, this isn’t cheap. But Rartjarasoaniony tells me she finds it acceptable. Maintaining a latrine costs more. “We have to empty it every six months, and it is really expensive,” she explains, not to mention the unsightly mess it creates. The manual process is done by ‘informal emptiers’ – usually men who show up with buckets to chug the goo into containers, dropping splotches of repugnant gunk around the yard for her egg-laying hens to peck at.

Standing behind Loowatt’s technician Edonal Razanadrakoto, I watch him tinker with Rartjarasoaniony’s toilet flushing mechanism. “In the older version of the toilet you had to push a pedal to make the bag seal the waste,” he explains, pointing at the plastic cogs and wheels. That mechanism ultimately relied on an internal rope, which often jammed and tore, so Loowatt switched to a sturdier, hand-pulled device, and now the toilets have to be upgraded. While Razanadrakoto changes the part, his coworker stashes the waste bag from underneath the toilet into a white bin on his pushcart and taps on the phone to update Loowatt’s online monitoring system: bag removed.

As we leave, Andriamahavita, the Loowatt manager, says that another neighbour also wants to talk. “She was about to go to work, but heard we were in the neighbourhood, so she waited,” he explains.

Sporting a white shirt and long braided hair, 43-year-old Gloria Razafindeamiza greets us in front of her house, next to her Loowatt toilet cabin, which is woven from recycled plastic. Only a few steps away on the ground a pressure cooker atop a charcoal burner simmers vary – rice, which locals eat three times a day. As Razafindeamiza explains her ordeals with the Malagasy way of using the toilet, a range of expressions crosses her face, from embarrassment to disgust. She works for the Ministry of Health, Andriamahavita explains, and really hates the unsanitary side of it all. A renter who moved here recently, she had to share an outhouse with several neighbours, some of whom didn’t clean up after themselves, leaving it unusable.

“With this toilet I feel safe and secure.”

It was also too far from her house, which made things difficult. “If diarrhea comes up at night, I’m afraid to go there,” she says. “Sometimes you would go there and it would be really dirty and you’d have to clean it before you could use it.” Electricity isn’t always available in Antananarivo either, so imagine doing all that in the dark. “With this toilet I feel safe and secure,” she adds.

As we leave her yard, I steal a glance at Razafindeamiza’s living room through the window, which, like many other houses here, doesn’t have glass in the panes. The room looks nice, with teak furniture, a TV and pictures of Santa Claus and Dora the Explorer on the walls. But at the gates, we hop over a ditch that carries wastewater out of the house and into the gutters on the street. The ditch is full of a stagnant greyish fluid that stinks of rotten food and probably of faeces too. By now I am so immune to these smells that I can’t tell if it’s just muddy water or a recent overflow from a latrine. As de los Reyes, who studies faecal sludge management, once said: “In the developing world, people are surrounded by shit, often unbeknownst to them.”

Later, as Andriamahavita is driving us from Loowatt’s pilot neighbourhood to the main office, I can’t help but ask: “Gloria works for the Ministry of Health, and her house looks rather nice, so why can’t she afford a home with a better toilet?”

“A government job doesn’t necessarily pay a lot of money,” Andriamahavita explains, but the biggest problem is the infrastructure. “We don’t really have a sewage system like in the Occident.” Middle-class Malagasies can afford certain life perks, like a TV, a stereo system, a smartphone, even a second-hard car. But a flush toilet isn’t something an individual’s money can buy.

A flush toilet needs a sophisticated set of underground pipes linking it to a facility that can digest its output – a sewage plant that cleans the water, releasing it back into the rivers and oceans, and re-processes the so-called biosolids into fertiliser safe to put onto fields…

Does Loowatt’s approach have the potential to change how the world processes its waste? The company is working on introducing the concept to other countries – in Africa, Asia and Europe. In the UK, for example, Loowatt toilets are already being used at festivals and outdoor events, generating good revenue…”


10 DIY 4th of July Decorations

Independence Day isn’t far away and at Oliver, we’ve scoured the internet for some fun and easy DIY crafts that you can do at the last minute. Here are some great decor ideas, whether you’re throwing a party or just like to celebrate the holiday:

Flag Mason Jars

An easy way to dress up any party table is to paint some mason jars and use them for forks, knives, and other supplies. This project only requires a few simple necessities and about 30 minutes!

Get the tutorial HERE.

Bandanna Wreath

Hang something on your door that greets guests with a holiday spirit. This bandanna wreath is fast and easy (as long as you can fold triangles)!

Get the tutorial HERE.

Soup Can Luminaries

Have some empty soup cans or vegetable cans lying around? All you need is a hammer, nails, and some paint and you can make your very own garden luminaries.

Get the tutorial HERE.

Paint Chip Banner

Make a statement using a banner made from paint chips! Head to your local paint store and find some large red, white, and blue paint chips. Then trace your letters and cut them out to say whatever you’d like.

Get the tutorial HERE.

Star Topiaries

Add a splash of patriotism to any room with these styrofoam-and-paper-star topiaries. These take a little bit of time, but the results are pretty fun.

Get the tutorial HERE.

Ruched Pillow Cases

If you love to sew, you’ll love these ruched 4th of July pillow cases. Once you’re done putting them together, you can use them to add a bit of festive pop to your couch, chairs, or porch/deck furniture.

Get the tutorial HERE.

Homemade Confetti Poppers

If your neighborhood doesn’t allow fireworks, make the next best thing – confetti poppers. All you need is a few toilet paper rolls, some confetti, and balloons and you have your very own “firecracker.”

Get the tutorial HERE.

Wooden Star Coasters

If you really want to kick up the festive decor, make these cute wooden star coasters with just some paint and a stencil!

Get the tutorial HERE.

Burlap Table Runner

Table runners are a great way to spruce up your dining room or kitchen table – especially if you’re using it to serve food. Grab some paints and as much burlap as you need and craft your own.

Get the tutorial HERE.

Paper Flowers

Love origami? Then this craft is for you. These flowers can be made from scrapbook paper of any pattern and are easily assembled with stem wire and paper brads.

Get the tutorial HERE.

*Photos courtesy of:
www.ahs.com
www.virginiasweetpea.com
daysofadomesticdad.com
rebekahgough.blogspot.com
www.simplydesigning.net
www.piikeastreet.com
decoart.com
www.serendipitydefined.com
livelaughrowe.com
i-candy.handmade.com


Air Conditioning and Road Trips

What to Know About Both

At Oliver Heating and Cooling, we’re already thinking about summer vacation plans, and we know you are too. If you’re thinking about taking a road trip, you can save money by knowing when to use your air conditioning and when not to use it.

Car Air Conditioning

Car air conditioners and rolled-down windows can both help you save money while you drive – you just have to know when to use which cooling method. If your road trip consists of highway driving (we’re assuming it does), keep your windows rolled up and your air conditioner on when you’re going above 50 miles per hour. Traveling with your windows down at high speeds will actually reduce the efficiency of your vehicle (by up to 20%), which means you’ll use more gas to maintain your highway speed.

On the other hand, if you’re driving around town (or under 50 miles per hour), opt to roll down your windows instead of use your air conditioning. Because there’s less wind force than when traveling at higher speeds, you won’t decrease your vehicle’s efficiency, and if you do use your air conditioner, you’ll be using more fuel to run it.

As a general note, if you get into your parked car and it’s hot, you may be tempted to cool it down with the air conditioning. If you do this, roll down your windows to let some of the heat out – the car will cool off quicker.

Home Air Conditioning

Summer road trips also mean time away from your home, and you may be wondering whether you should turn your air conditioning off or simply turn it down. The truth is, it doesn’t hurt to turn your air conditioning off – in fact, you’ll save a lot more money than if you keep it at a higher temperature.

In addition, air conditioners actually run more efficiently when they’re running at full power, which means they’re more efficient when cooling a room down from 80 to 75 than when they’re working in short spurts to keep the room at a constant 80 degrees. We know that during winter months, it’s important to keep your home warm to avoid freezing your pipes, but in the summer months, it’s perfectly safe to turn off your air conditioning.

If you’re having trouble with your air conditioner, call our air conditioning repair company before you leave and we’ll have it fixed for you as soon as possible.


5 Ways to Stay Cool This Summer

Beat the Heat

Though it’s not technically summer yet, it’s getting hot out there. At Oliver, we know that while the season is all about having fun, it can be hard to stay cool. That’s why we’ve come up with some tips that can help you beat the heat:

1) Cool your veins

On hot days, wrap an ice pack around your wrists or run them under cold water. The chilly temperature will cool down the blood in your veins and you’ll instantly feel better. Repeat every time you’re feeling overheated.

2) Drink water

Drinking cold water on a hot day is like eating hot soup on a cold day. The cold temperature will help cool your body down (and bonus – the colder the water, the more calories your body will burn trying to warm it up!). Drinking water also helps keep you hydrated, which is very important to do when it’s hot outside.

3) Check your air conditioner

When it comes to cooling services, the experts at Oliver know best! Before you blast your air conditioner, give us a call and let us check it. We’ll make sure everything is working properly and that your air filters are clean so that cold air can flow through your home or office as fast as possible.

4) Turn off the lights

Lights give off heat, so instead of using your lamps, open your blinds or curtains and let the sunlight help you out. You can also invest in LED light bulbs or CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) that aren’t as hot. These bulbs are also energy efficient, so you’ll save money on your electric bills!

5) Eat ice cream

Ice cream, Popsicles, water ice, and other frozen treats can cool you down in a hurry (not to mention they’re delicious). Stock up your freezer when you know there’s a heat wave coming and you’ll make everyone happy.

If all else fails, just jump in a pool or run through a sprinkler – that always works for us!


8 Campfire Recipes for Your Summer Camping Trip

Summer is nearly here, which means many of you will be planning your first camping trip of the season. Here, our HVAC experts share some of their favorite campfire recipes to make your trip easy, fun, and delicious!

Breakfast

Breakfast Burritos

Want to wake up to a breakfast you don’t have to fuss over? Pre-make some breakfast burritos: combine scrambled eggs, cheese, sausage, and veggies and roll it all up in a tortilla. Wrap each burrito in foil and freeze them up until your trip. Once you’re there, toss them on the fire grate or grill to warm them up and enjoy.

French Toast

Who says french toast can’t be made while camping? Start by placing a loaf of bread in the middle of a large piece of foil. Sprinkle blueberries and sliced strawberries over the loaf, then whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and cloves together and pour over the bread and fruit. Wrap up the loaf and place on the fire grate or grill and bake for about 40 minutes.

Lunch

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are a simple, filling lunch. Start by poking each potato several times with a fork. Then, spread butter over the surface and wrap tightly in foil. Bury the potatoes in hot coals for 30-60 minutes or until soft. Then, top with scallions, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits!

Tacos in a Bag

For a quick lunch, cook up some ground beef with taco seasonings at home and bring it with you. Heat up the beef and add a few heaping spoonfuls to a bag of Doritos. Top with lettuce, cheese, salsa, onions, and more to make an easy-to-eat taco in a bag.

Dinner

Chicken Sausage Packets

Foil packet dinners are always an easy way to make a meal! Cut some peppers and onions into large chunks, then cut up some potatoes or sweet potatoes into slightly smaller chunks. Toss your veggies and potatoes with sliced chicken sausage and season to taste. Then, pile everything into the middle of a large piece of foil and wrap up into a packet. Place the packet on a fire grate or grill until everything is cooked through.

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers can easily be made at home and then reheated for dinner. Simply slice your peppers in half and bake for a few minutes to soften. Then cook up your beef and rice and combine it with black beans, tomatoes, onions, and spices. Pile the beef mixture into the peppers and wrap in foil. Once you’re ready to eat them, toss them on the fire grate or grill until they’re warmed. Top with cheese and sour cream.

Dessert

Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler

Spray your dutch oven with cooking spray, then pour in 1-2 cans of sliced peaches (depending on how large your oven is). Top with one package of white or yellow cake mix and cut 1/4 lb. butter into pats. Spread the pats over the top of the cake and place the lid on the oven. Place the oven in hot coals and spread some hot coals over the top to help cook evenly. Cook for 40 minutes or until the cake mix is cooked through.

Chocolate Marshmallow Bananas

Instead of the traditional s’mores, why not try chocolate marshmallow bananas? Use a knife to make slice marks in one side of a banana and pull the peel back (it should be around an inch in width). Cut out a portion of the banana and fill the hole with chocolate chips and mini marshmallows, then replace the slice of peel. Wrap the banana in foil and toss on the fire grate or grill until the chocolate and marshmallows are melted. Then, dig in with a fork!


Stay Safe This Memorial Day

Some Tips from Our HVAC Company

Memorial Day is this weekend and if you’re throwing a party for friends and family members, it’s important to stay safe. Here are some tips from our HVAC company:

Grills

Allow for Space

When grilling, make sure your grill is at least two feet away from your deck, siding, and any outdoor equipment that can catch fire easily (such as a swing set, toys, shed, etc.). Also make sure there are no low-hanging branches around the area.

Clean Before You Use

There tends to be a lot of grilling at Memorial Day parties and one thing to remember is to clean your grill thoroughly before you use it. Dirty grills (especially those that use propane) can be dangerous and cause unwanted flare-ups.

Electrical

Inspect Your Lights

If you plan on setting up some outdoor lamps or strings of lights, inspect them to make sure there is no damage. Also inspect their cords and any extension cords you’ll be using for damage. If you find cracks, splices, fraying, or other signs of trouble, replace the light source or cord.

Avoid Water Around Electricity

Set sprinklers up away from any electrical source and if you have a pool or hot tub, remind swimmers to never touch an electrical appliance while they’re in the water. Also, make sure your outdoor outlets are weatherproofed and protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electrical shock.

UV Rays

Even though it’s not quite summer yet, UV rays are pretty strong and can still cause sun damage. Make sure you protect your skin and your family’s skin by applying a high-SPF sunscreen, wearing a hat, and wearing breathable clothing.

Traveling

Vehicle Prep

According to AAA, Memorial Day travel will be at a high this year. If you’re headed to a friend or family member’s house for Memorial Day, it’s important to stay safe on the road. Check your tire pressure, oil, headlights, and taillights before you leave and make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid.

Drinking and Driving

Holidays often call for beer and cocktails; if you’re going to partake, make sure you designate a friend or family member to give you a ride home or sober up before you get behind the wheel. Remember – the law in Pennsylvania states your BAC (blood alcohol content) can’t be above .08.


What Happens During an Electrical Safety Inspection?

…And Why It’s Important

Do you know when your electrical system was last inspected for safety? Was it when you bought your home? Many times, this is the case – major systems are checked for safety when the home changes hands, but otherwise are only looked at when the homeowner notices a problem. Unfortunately, this is not the best path to take when it comes to electrical safety in your home.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical fires account for $1 billion in property loss, 1,000 injuries, and 280 deaths in a year; these fires are caused by a mixture of system failures and avoidable misuse of electrical equipment.

When homes are inspected prior to sale, the home inspector reviews the overall safety of the home according to current codes. The two potential problems here are:

  1. Most home inspectors are not experts in each individual system, so they may not recognize all of the warning signs that a specialist looks for.
  2. Codes change frequently as new technology becomes available and data is compiled about potential risks and hazards.

Oliver’s trained electricians perform an electrical safety inspection that focuses on the safety and stability of your electrical system and identifies the most common warning signs of electrical fire hazards. We also look for ways that you can save money on your utility bills by eliminating so-called “vampire loads” and utilizing dimmers, timers, and energy efficient bulbs. Once the inspection is complete, the electrician gives a full report to the homeowner. If there are any suggestions for improvement, the electrician will prioritize them in terms of potential impact and any other factors that are unique to your situation.

To find out more about our electrical safety inspections, or to schedule an appointment, click here.


4 Technologies That Could Change the Energy Industry

A Look into the Future

From energy storage to vehicles to electricity production and more, the future of energy is ever-growing and ever-changing to become more efficient, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly for people around the world. Here, our HVAC experts share four innovations that could transform the energy world in the next few decades:

Fuel Cells

If you haven’t heard of fuel cell technology yet, it has become a pretty big innovation in the vehicle industry. Instead of relying on gasoline and an internal combustion engine, fuel cell cars rely on the combination of hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, which then powers the car. This type of technology releases only heat and water emissions instead of greenhouse gasses, making them a viable environmental option for the future.

Smart Grids

The electricity grids that were developed in the early 1900s were simple, one-way interactions: utility companies set a price for their electricity and consumers pay it on a monthly basis. With today’s smart grids, however, consumers are able to communicate their electrical demands to utility companies and improve the grid’s efficiency. In addition, traditional electric utility companies can partner with renewable technologies like wind and solar to increase environmental friendliness.

Lithium-Air Batteries

Relying on lithium oxidation to create electricity, the idea of the lithium-air battery is nothing new. While it was suggested back in the 1970s as a way to power electric and hybrid vehicles, it wasn’t until the late 90s that the technology started to form. Today, scientists believe lithium-air batteries could have a promising impact on the vehicles, electronic devices, and more. While the technology is still too unstable to fully develop, more and more breakthroughs are occurring to make these batteries part of the future of energy.

Tidal Turbines

Like wind turbines, tidal turbines use the power of a natural force to produce energy. These structures are shaped like pinwheels and are placed underwater to harvest the movement of the ocean which in turn, creates electricity. Because tidal turbines are a little more complicated than wind turbines or solar panels, they haven’t become as popular. However, they have significant potential. In fact, a recent tidal turbine installation off the coast of Scotland has a power generation capacity of two megawatts.

 


 

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