Category : life

3 Benefits of a Lutron Caséta Wireless Installation

home electrical service

Have you always wanted more control over your home? At Oliver, we offer Lutron Caséta Wireless, a state-of-the-art home technology installation that can make your everyday life easier in a variety of ways. Here’s why our home electrical service experts recommend Lutron Caséta:

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10 New Year’s Resolutions for Saving Energy

New Year's energy resolutions

A brand new year is right around the corner, and at Oliver, we want you to add “save energy” to your list of resolutions. Our HVAC service experts have come up with a few ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and save some money in 2016:

1. Don’t leave your lights on.

This is a simple resolution, but can make a big difference on your electric bill. If you’re not using the lights in a room, turn them off. This goes for living rooms and kitchens, too.

2. Use more power strips.

Even when appliances aren’t turned on or in use, they still use power when they’re plugged in. Instead of unplugging things all the time, invest in a power strip that you can plug multiple things into and turn off all at once.

3. Take shorter showers.

Shorter showers mean less hot water that your water heater needs to heat, and less hot water means a lower electric or gas bill.

4. Use your ceiling fans.

This year, give your HVAC system a break and use your ceiling fans more. Set your fans to spin clockwise in the winter and counter-clockwise in the summer. They’ll pull warm air down from the ceiling when it’s cold and create a wind chill effect when it’s warm.

5. Get a programmable thermostat.

With a programmable thermostat, you can save both energy and money by setting your heat or air conditioning to run only when you need it to (as in, when you’re home).

6. Wash full loads.

Most of the energy used by dishwashers and washing machines goes toward heating the water, and washing only half loads of dishes or laundry wastes money. Wait until you have a full load of dishes or clothes before you wash them.

7. Keep doors and windows closed.

When you have your heat or air conditioning on, close your doors and windows to prevent hot or cold air from flowing into your home and making your HVAC system work harder than it has to.

8. Invest in efficient light bulbs.

We’ve learned that traditional incandescent light bulbs use a lot more energy than they need to (and they also burn hotter), so ditch the incandescents and turn to energy-efficient LEDs or CFLs. Your electricity bill will go down and you’ll also save energy.

9. Keep the freezer full.

Just like the loads of dishes or laundry, your freezer will use more energy to keep a few items frozen than you will if you filled the freezer. Almost anything can be frozen, so look for the latest deals at the grocery store and stock up on some food for future nights when you don’t feel like cooking.

10. Improve your ductwork.

Holes or bad connections in ductwork can leak the hot or cold air that’s coming from your HVAC system. By sealing and insulating your ductwork, you can prevent air leakage and improve airflow.


How Did People Keep Cool Before Air Conditioning?

air conditioning history

When the first modern air conditioning unit was invented in 1902, it wasn’t invented with home cooling in mind – it was invented for industrial purposes. Home air conditioners didn’t actually come along until the 1950s, and today, it’s hard to imagine living life without them.

We all know it can get pretty hot during the summertime, so how did people stay cool before air conditioning?

Caves

The temperature underneath the ground stays around 50 degrees all year long, so in order to stay cool, many people made their home in a cave or built it into a hillside to take advantage of the earth’s cooling ability.

Stone Homes

After seeing how the stones in caves stayed cold, many people started building above-ground homes out of stone or brick to mimic the cooling that cave walls provide.

Mats/Sheets

Try this: Dampen a pillow case and place it in front of a fan. When you turn the fan on, feel the breeze that travels through the pillow case; it should be pretty cold. Ancient Egyptians, Indians, Romans, and Greeks used this same method to cool the warmer parts of their homes. In order to create cooler drafts, they dampened a mat or a sheet and hung it in a doorway or open area.

Architecture

Architecture played a big role in keeping homes cool. By creating archways, large windows, and high ceilings, builders could funnel in outdoor breezes and create cross-ventilation. Porches built in the shade also gave people an area to cool off during the evening.

Trees

To create the most amount of shade possible, homeowners often planted trees on the east and west sides of their home. The trees not only blocked the hot rays of the sun, but also cooled down any breezes that blew through the area and into the home. Come winter, the trees would lose their leaves and allow the sun to shine through and heat the home.

Fans

For quick relief, there were always fans to keep cool. Early hand fans were made from leaves, feathers, paper, or fabric, and were shaped in half- or semi-circles to make them easy to hold. In the 1880s, electric fans were invented and by the early 1900s, many homeowners were incorporating them into their daily summertime lives.


The Benefits of Clean Indoor Air

 

indoor air quality

As a homeowner, you may not think much about your indoor air quality and the effect it can have on you and your family. If you’re living with a low quality of indoor air, you may be suffering from it more than you think – indoor air can enhance allergy symptoms, trigger illnesses, spread contaminants, and more.

At Oliver, we’ve heard many customers complain about situations like these and our recommendation is to contact one of our expert air duct cleaners for a consultation. Cleaner air can help:

Ease Asthma

People who suffer from asthma are usually sensitive to outdoor pollutants like smog, smoke, soot, fumes, and more, but what they may not realize is indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. When you have clean indoor air, it will be much easier to breathe and therefore, much easier to perform your daily activities and live comfortably.

Reduce Allergies

While many problem-causing allergens are found outside (like pollen, spores, grass, etc.), many indoor allergens like dust, mold, and dander also cause problems. When your home’s duct system isn’t cleaned correctly, these allergens will constantly build and recirculate throughout your home, making it hard for allergy sufferers to avoid a reaction.

Shorten Illnesses

We’ve all been sick, and being sick is never fun. Whether you come down with a cold, the flu, or bronchitis, poor indoor air quality will only magnify or extend symptoms like congestion, sneezing, and itching (especially in children and elderly individuals). Clean air will help your body fight the illness and shorten its length.

Improve Wellness

Even if you don’t suffer from asthma, allergies, or an illness, great indoor air quality will allow more oxygen to get to your brain. This lets you to breathe better, sleep better, stay more alert, feel more refreshed, and improve your overall wellness.

Let our air duct cleaners assess your home. Once we’ve inspected it and determined what’s causing the particle buildup, we’ll clean or replace it. Whether you’re in need of a full duct cleaning, a new filter, or a humidifier, we’ll help you purify the air you breathe and live better.

What You Can Do

After we restore your air quality, there are many things you can do to keep it clean: Invest in some house plants – they are known to purify the air. Also, don’t smoke in the house and vacuum often to keep particles and allergens from settling in your carpet. Dusting your house on a regular basis is also a good idea, as well as cleaning water fixtures to prevent build-up.


US Clean Air Act (Phaseout Series Part 4)

Welcome back to the Phaseout Series! Last time we talked about how the international community responded to the discovery that CFC’s were depleting the ozone layer. Today, we’ll come back closer to home and talk about how the United States is handling the issue.

The good news is that the United States started addressing the issue even before the Montreal Protocol came into play. The primary piece of legislation on the subject is the Clean Air Act.  Other legislation on air pollution was enacted as early as 1955, and evolved over the years as our understanding of the problems and potential solutions developed.

The amendments to the Clean Air Act that deal with the phaseout of CFC’s were enacted in 1990. This amendment authorized three new programs related to pollution control, expanded existing enforcement authority, and the part that we’re really concerned with: established another program to phase out the use of CFC’s.

The Phaseout of CFC’s is covered by Title VI of the Clean Air Act. All of the information about what substances it pertains to, the schedule for reduction, and any exemptions are public information. If you want to take a look at them, you can find them all on the EPA’s website: http://epa.gov/oar/caa/title6.html

We just passed two more milestones in the production of equipment and of the substance known as R-22. These reductions are a good thing for our planet, but they do impact the everyday operations of companies like Oliver. We’ll talk about the role of HVAC companies and homeowners in our next post. And although I’ve been getting lots and lots of “thank you for this good informationing, I am happy pleased to have found your channel, please to visit website for selling of mudpies” comments, what I’d really like to hear are your questions! What questions can I answer for you about Oliver’s role in the phaseout?

Until next time,

Shanna


If Our Walls Could Talk, I Bet They’d Just Start Screaming

Only two Mondays left until Memorial Day! It’s time to start thinking about trips down the shore, working in gardens for those of you who are better than me at keeping green things alive, and reminding the dog that there are more fun things to do in the backyard than fertilizing it.

This year, our summer plans are all about The House. We say this in capitals at home because, like a lot of first-time homeowners, my husband and I bought a place that was budget-friendly and project intensive. Sometimes we have to watch “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks to remind ourselves that it could be worse! We have a project wish list a mile long, and we spend a lot of time looking at it and discussing what is worth putting our time and money into, especially since we know that we will be selling the house within a year or so. Do we put our blood, sweat, tears, and cash into things that the next family will get to enjoy more than we do? I’m all for charity and love-thy-neighbor and all that jazz, but not that much!

So, what are we going to do with The House? What improvements are worth making now, and what will we leave for the next owners? Most of what we want to do involves staging the house, which is a weird real estate way of saying “make total strangers want to live they way they think you live.” Since we’re both pretty genuine people, we decided to do this by (now here’s an idea) living the way we actually live, and making it look good. So I’m having fun trawling flea markets and auctions to get just the right pieces of furniture and accessories to show off the details that the house already has going for it, like my beloved built-in bookcases and old-school hardwood floors. These will come with us when we sell, or go back to the auctions, so the investment carries over.

And what about the things we can’t take? Well, that’s a tougher discussion. The easy part was ripping down the amazingly ugly pink and blue gold-leafed paisley wallpaper and giving the place a fresh coat of paint. (I hear my husband face-palming now at the use of the word “easy” in reference to ripping down, I kid you not, 55 year old wallpaper, but sometimes you have to lie to yourself to be able to start the next project, right?) Now that that’s done, we have to decide about bringing this 1910 house into 2012, and installing an air conditioning system.

I know what you’re thinking now – “Hey, you work for an HVAC company, isn’t that the easiest thing to get done?” Well, yes and no. Yes, because I know I can count on Oliver to give me great options and to do a great job once we make a decision. No, because there are a lot of great options out there to consider. Do we keep our oil boiler and add a straight A/C unit? Or maybe put in a heat pump and keep the oil as a backup system? Or, do we go along with our next-door neighbors and convert both houses to natural gas and then decide about the A/C or heat pump issue? So many options! I’m lucky to have such great advisors on tap here at Oliver, I know they’re going to help us decide what’s best for us and The House. And because I’m such a sweetheart (stop laughing, husband!), I’ll even share them with you!


Montreal: Tackling Global Problems Between Hockey Seasons

Welcome back to our series on the phaseout of R-22 refrigerant. If you’re new, we’ve already talked introduced the key points and last week we talked about what, exactly, R22 is. I promise today’s installment will be a lot easier (and shorter!) than the chemistry issue from last week. We know why R22 became so popular, and why it’s something that we can’t use forever. We left off with the scientists sounding the alarm, and the politicians convening an international cooperative effort to slow or reverse the harmful effects of CFC’s.

In 1985, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer met in Vienna, Austria. Let’s take a second to be jealous of the amazing coffee, pastries, and surrounding beautiful architecture. Then we can remind ourselves about the terribly dry chemistry we learned about last time and be grateful that we sat through that for one post, not for the duration of a conference that involved 197 countries and the translation of all of this terribly dry material into six different languages. Feel better now about the coffee? Good!

The Vienna Convention itself is a framework. It gets everyone on the same page about why the Ozone layer needs protecting and what it needs protecting from. We aren’t talking about any of the other issues that are included in the framework, just the CFC’s that we deal with in our industry. The Vienna Convention doesn’t require any specific action, it just set up a process for each of the broad categories of problems to be addressed at smaller conventions, which are known as Protocols. The Protocol that affects us and covers CFC’s was held in Montreal, which is where it got the brilliantly original name of “the Montreal Protocol.” Other revisions to the Vienna Convention have been held in London, Nairobi, Copenhagen, Bangkok, back to Vienna (they were out of the good coffee by then), and Beijing. The Montreal Protocol is the most famous of these revisions, and Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, called it one of the most successful international agreements of all time.

The Montreal Protocol is where we get the key dates for this phaseout. The treaty set up a plan to manage the phaseout and gradually take all CFC’s out of production. The first benchmark was set in 1991 and the last is scheduled for 2030. Each benchmark establishes a freeze or reduction point for specific substances, with the ultimate goal being elimination. The treaty also sets up funding through the United Nations and the World Bank for developing countries to participate without bringing their development to a screeching halt.

Even though the United States was already looking into these problems, we are signatory to both the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol. We’ll talk more about the requirements in the US next time. For now, I think I’m going to go grab a cup of Johan.

Auf Wiedersehen!

– Shanna


The Allergy Season That Never Left

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this winter both spoiled and cheated us. I’m really OK with not having to scrape a foot of ice and snow off my windshield before dawn every morning. Washing the car, outdoors, in a light sweatshirt on New Year’s Day was pretty cool. On the other hand, I’ve never had to take my asthma medications past November. This year has been the worst that I can remember for all those irritants that leave me wheezing and sneezing, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

 So, when Mother Nature decides not to help out with a big deep freeze, what then? Well, that’s when we want to turn our homes into little oases of easy breathing. And it just so happens that I know some folks who can make that happen.

 Did you know…

 A Home & Duct Performance Test can thoroughly evaluate your home’s comfort systems, and pinpoint the precise causes of problems. Whether your home has too much or too little humidity, hot or cold spots, a damp basement, or polluted air, the experts at Oliver can locate the problem and offer solutions to correct it. And if your utility bills are high (and whose aren’t these days?), the Oliver experts can make suggestions to correct that too.

 Once a Home & Duct Performance Test has been completed, and you have decided on a course of action, Oliver technicians are available to assist with heating, air conditioning, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, duct cleaning, plumbing, electrical services, and new installations. And with accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, and multiple Angie’s List Super Service Awards under their toolbelts, you can be sure that you’re getting the best of the best in whole-house service from Oliver Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, & Electrical.

 It’s what we do. And we’d love to show you how we can help in your home. So give us a call today at 1-800-522-4884.

Happy Friday everyone!

– Shanna


Welcome to the Oliver blog!

Hi, and welcome to the official blog for Oliver Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, and Electrical! My name is Shanna and I will be your main blogger, although from time to time a few friends will be joining the conversation. The Oliver blog is here to let you know a little more about who we are and what we do.

So who are we and what do we do? Excellent question! We are a heating, cooling,plumbing, and electrical contractor serving the greater Philadelphia area, and we’ve been around for over 40 years now. Our business is based on the Golden Rule, which is our commitment to provide products and services for our customers that we would want for our own homes.

As our blog grows, we’ll be bringing you information that we hope will help make your home a more comfortable place. Of course we will be introducing you to our products and services, and letting you know about special offers for our customers, both new and loyal to the Oliver family. And beyond that, we have lots of ideas that you can use whether you’re in our service area or all the way across the country.

Thanks for checking us out, I’ll be back with your first home comfort tip in a couple of days!