Category : summer

How to Cool the Second Floor of Your Home

air conditioning experts

Is your home’s second floor too hot? You’re not alone. Many homeowners experience a second floor that simply doesn’t seem to be getting any air conditioning during the summertime. Here, our air conditioning experts share some tips on what may be causing the situation and how to cool it down:

Continue reading


How Does Air Conditioning Actually Work?

air conditioning installation

When the temperatures rise outside, the last thing you want to be is hot and uncomfortable in your home; that’s when you head to your thermostat to turn your air conditioning on. But have you ever wondered how your air conditioning actually works? Here, our air conditioning installation experts explain:

Continue reading


7 Air Conditioning Tips to Get You Through the Summer

We’ve hit the peak of summertime and at Oliver, we know the temperatures aren’t going down anytime soon. While you’re turning to your air conditioner to cool down your home, you may be putting more stress on it than necessary. Here are some tips from our air conditioning professionals to get you through the rest of the summer:

Fix Your Leaks

If your home is older, chances are there are several areas that are leaking your air conditioning out of your home. Check the seals around your windows and doors and make sure your attic is well-insulated. By replacing the weatherstripping (or the windows or doors themselves), you can create a better barrier between your home and the outside world that keeps your air conditioning inside.

Upgrade Your Model

Is your air conditioner more than 10 years old? If so, it may not be as efficient as it could be and in return, you’re likely paying more to cool your home than you think. The right air conditioner fits the size of your home and your family’s needs, so talk to one of our air conditioning professionals today to learn more about an upgrade.

Use Your Fans

If you have overhead ceiling fans, you can use them in conjunction with your air conditioner to better circulate cold air around your home. Switch each fan to run counterclockwise so it pushes cool air downward. You can also use your fans during days that aren’t as hot so you save energy.

Don’t Keep Your AC Cranked

If it’s hot outside, your first instinct is probably to keep your thermostat low all day – even when you’re not home. Many people believe that by keeping the air conditioner running, it won’t have to work as hard to re-cool the home later. However, keeping your AC low means using energy that you don’t need to use and in return, racking up your electric or gas bill.

Get a Programmable Thermostat

To expand on our previous point, investing in a programmable thermostat can help you keep your home warmer while you’re away and cooler while you’re back. With a programmable thermostat, you can set your ideal temperature for certain times of the day so you only use energy while you and your family are at home.

Replace Your Filters

Spring and summertime pollen have likely built up in your air filters (as well as dust, dirt, dander, and other airborne particles). To maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency, make sure you replace your air filters on a regular basis. Our air conditioning professionals recommend replacing them every 2-3 months.

Close Your Blinds

While natural light is great, the sun can also heat up your home more than you’d like. If you have windows that face the sun, be sure to take advantage of blinds or curtains to help block out the heat. You’ll keep your home cooler and put less stress on your air conditioner to provide the cold air.


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


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!


A New Technology Could Turn Summer Heat into Winter Heat

Have you ever been shivering in the middle of winter and found yourself daydreaming about the hot days of summer? Well according to researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA), you may soon be able to use that summer heat to keep yourself warm during the winter.

EMPA researchers have developed a new technology that uses the sodium hydroxide (NaOH), commonly known as lye, to store heat and use it at a later time. When the dry chemical is exposed to water, it produces heat. And when this combination is exposed to sunlight, the sun will evaporate the water and leave behind the dry chemical so that it can produce a reaction all over again.

Because the lye is stable, it can be stored up to several years for use at a later time (so long as it doesn’t come into contact with water). The technology that’s paired with it helps ensure its safe containment (after all, lye is a corrosive material) and makes sure it loses minimal heat. In addition, it optimizes it so that it can be used safely in the home’s heating system.

While the technology has been developed, the home heating process is still being perfected. Right now, a heat storage system has been in place for several months and is undergoing testing at EMPA. So far, it’s working reliably and is able to store enough energy to heat an entire house, which means we could soon see a whole new way to warm our homes in the winter.


Workplace Air Conditioning: Men vs. Women

air-conditioning

This summer, you’ve probably heard at least one person talk about how cold it is in their workplace, but did you know that air conditioning actually affects men and women differently? According to a study in the Nature Climate Change journal, many office buildings adjust their thermostat temperatures based on a male’s metabolism.

But why?

Well back in the 1960s, the majority of the workforce in office buildings was made up of men, so employers were encouraged to choose their office temperature based on the comfort of a middle-aged man who weighed around 150 pounds. This ensured that bulk of the employees were happy and productive.

On average, male bodies have higher metabolic rates than female bodies, which means they burn energy faster and need cooler temperatures in order to stay comfortable. In fact, men prefer a home temperature of around 72 degrees while women prefer a home temperature of around 77 degrees. This means that women in the workforce (and there are many more these days) now have to deal with too much air conditioning.

So what temperature should office buildings opt for? Many think that a cold workplace means employees will stay awake and be more focused, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Studies have shown that when you’re cold, you’re actually less productive and more likely to make mistakes. With this in mind, employers may benefit more from a warmer thermostat instead of a colder one and in return, they’ll be able to save money on their energy bill.

The same idea goes for homeowners – if you want to lower your energy bill and be more productive, turn your thermostat up a few degrees. Since males prefer about 72 degrees and females prefer about 77, try keeping the thermostat at 74 or 75 degrees.


9 Things to Do in Philly This July and August

Philly

Once summer hits, the city of Philadelphia turns into something of a playground, with festivals, events, and dining experiences for people of all ages. At Oliver, we love heading outside and enjoying one of the area’s fun happenings. Here are a few to experience this July and August:

University City Dining Days

When: July 14th – 24th
Where: University City

If you consider yourself a foodie, you can’t miss University City’s Dining Days event. For its 12th year, the area will offer prix-fixe, three-course dinners at more than 30 of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood. Prices range from $15-$35 per person and give you a chance to try out some great food and drinks.

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

When: May 27th – September 5th
Where: 101 S. Columbus Boulevard

If you’ve ever been to Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, then you know its summer fest is just as exciting. With a roller rink, mini-golf, an urban beach, and Chickie’s and Pete’s Crabshack bar and restaurant, there’s plenty to do right on the waterfront.

XPoNential Music Festival

When: July 22nd – 24th
Where: 2 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ

Thought not technically in Philly, Camden’s XpoNential Music Festival is right next door and is three days of great music and family fun. The festival features music performances from 30 local and national artists on three different stages and this year’s lineup includes names like Alabama Shakes, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ryan Adams, and more.

BBQ Fest

When: July 30th
Where: Citizens Bank Park

Nothing says summer like a BBQ, and Philly is the perfect place for one. Head to Citizens Bank Park for the city’s first-ever BBQ Fest and enjoy brisket, beef tips, pulled pork, and more from more than 40 BBQ vendors. In addition, you’ll be able to enjoy live music, a craft beer garden, and carnival games.

2nd Street Festival

When: August 7th
Where: North 2nd Street in Northern Liberties

For an evening of craft beer and family fun, head to the 2nd Street Festival this summer. After the street closes down, it will become a seven-block party filled with beer gardens, food vendors, art, live music, merchandise, crafts, workshops, and more for the whole family to enjoy.

Hispanic Fiesta

When: July 9th – 10th
Where: Penn’s Landing

A premier Latino event, the Hispanic Fiesta features music, dancing, entertainment, and a variety of ethnic foods that bring awareness to and celebrate the Latin American culture and community.

Philadelphia Folk Festival

When: August 18th – 21st
Where: Old Poole Farm, Schwenksville

About 30 miles outside of Philly is a huge annual folk festival that attracts music lovers all over the East Coast. Each year, the 40-acre Old Poole Farm is transformed into a musical wonderland for three days of folk artists and bands. This year marks the festival’s 55th year and makes it the longest continuously running outdoor musical festival of its kind in North America.

East Passyunk Car Show & Street Festival

When: July 31st
Where: 1904 E. Passyunk Ave.

If you’re a car lover, don’t miss the 10th annual East Passyunk Car Show & Street Festival, where you’ll find more than 140 antique, classic, show, and custom cars. In addition, the festival will have crafts, live music, food from the area’s restaurants and food trucks, drinks, and kid-friendly activities.

Caribbean Festival

When: August 21st
Where: Penn’s Landing

For a taste of the Caribbean, don’t miss the 30th annual cultural festival that celebrates 14 Caribbean islands with reggae, roots, and gospel music, poetry, dancing, and traditional cuisine like jerk chicken, curried goat, codfish cakes, and more.


Make Sure Your Air Conditioner Is Ready for the Heat

While it’s getting warmer out, it may not be hot enough to turn on the air conditioning just yet. But when it does come time to cool down your home, the last thing you’ll want is an air conditioner that doesn’t work. That’s why, as HVAC repair experts, we like to remind our customers each spring to turn their air conditioner on for a few hours and make sure it’s ready to take on the heat when it comes.

By turning on your air conditioner early, you’ll give your HVAC system time to adjust to providing cold air instead of the heat it’s been producing. You’ll also be able to make sure all of the system’s components are operating correctly. Plus, running your air conditioner before you really need it will give you time to call us and address any HVAC repairs you may have.

Before you turn on your HVAC unit, refer to our checklist of things you should do:

1. Check the condenser fan: Make sure no debris is stuck inside the blades of the fan (such as twigs, dead leaves, or other debris) and that nothing is blocking the fan’s airflow.

2. Replace your HVAC filter: Your current filter has spent all winter collecting dirt and dust, so start fresh with a new one. Refer to your owner’s manual to make sure you get the correct size and style.

3. Check the coolant lines: Inspect the coolant lines to make sure their insulation is still intact and there are no leaks. If you see any damage to the lines, call our HVAC repair experts.

4. Clean your coils: Winter weather can leave your outdoor condenser coils covered in dirt and dust. Remove any debris around the coils, then use a garden hose to gently clean them. They’ll run better when nothing’s in their way.

At Oliver, we’d be happy to give your HVAC unit a proper inspection before the hot weather hits. Call us today or schedule an online appointment.


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.