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An Outlook on Pennsylvania’s Renewable Energy Future

While we’re working to increase renewable energy as a country, the future of renewable energy also varies by state. Some (like West Virginia and New Mexico) are just beginning to produce solar, wind, or hydro power while others (like Idaho and Maine) are already running entirely on them.

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Don’t Let Allergens Ruin Your Fall Fun

When you think of allergies, you probably think of spring allergies like flower pollen, but allergens can be heavily present in the fall as well and cause itchy eyes, sneezing, sinus headaches, and more. The cooler temperatures of fall bring several allergy triggers, including;

Ragweed

Ragweed pollen is the most common fall allergen. In fact, around 75 percent of people who are allergic to spring plants are also allergic to ragweed. Though it doesn’t grow everywhere, the wind can transport its pollen hundreds of miles and affect large areas.

Mold

The hot temperatures of summer paired with periods of rain can easily breed mold spores for the fall. In addition, piles of leaves are perfect areas for mold to grow. These mold spores can also travel through the air and affect people with seasonal allergies.

Dust

Dust mites are common during the humid days of summer, but they can easily be spread around your home when you turn on your heater and cause sneezing, runny noses, and more.

Duct Cleaning

Many of these fall allergies are found outside, but they can also easily travel indoors through open windows, open doors, open vents, and more. While your HVAC filter should do a good job of filtering out these allergens (providing you changed it after the summer season), ragweed pollen, mold, and dust can all become trapped inside your ducts and circulate through your home. That’s where Oliver comes in. Our duct cleaning experts can remove the allergens trapped in your ducts to give you fresh, clean air to breathe. Don’t let allergies ruin your fall fun – give us a call today to schedule your cleaning!


Don’t Miss Our Heat for the Holidays Program

Here in the Northeast, heat is an essential element for the winter season and we know there are some families that simply can’t afford a reliable heating system. That’s why each year around the holidays, Oliver Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, & Electrical likes to help those in need by donating heaters.

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5 Benefits of a New Commercial HVAC System

Owning and/or running a commercial property is a lot of work, and the last thing you want to worry about is your HVAC system. If yours is old, outdated, or simply not working properly, talk to the experts at Oliver. We can help you choose a new HVAC installation that fits the size of your building and the size of your budget.

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9 Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Fall

Summer is over and autumn is quickly approaching, but is your home ready for the cooler temperatures? At our Oliver, we’ve put together nine ways to get your home ready for the fall (including calling our experts!):

Check for Drafts

Check your windows and doors for drafts so that your home doesn’t take on cold air when you don’t want it to. You can check them by lighting a candle and holding it near the area. If it flickers, there’s a draft. You’ll want to replace the weather stripping and/or caulking to get a nice, strong seal before the cold sets in.

Prep Your Washer & Dryer

All of those loads of summer laundry mean your washing machine and dryer have gotten a lot of use. Be sure to check your washing machine hose – one that’s too worn can burst and spill gallons of water very quickly. Also make sure that lint hasn’t built up in your dryer – too much lint can catch fire from the dryer’s heat.

Replace Your HVAC Filter

Summer comes with a lot of dirt, dust, pollen, grass, and other airborne contaminants. Start fall with a fresh, clean HVAC filter and you’ll be breathing easy as the temperatures get cooler.

Seal Your Walkway/Patio

If you have a paver walkway or a paver patio, take some time to seal it before the ice, snow, and cold temperatures hit. You’ll protect it all winter long and will love the way it looks come springtime.

Schedule a Furnace Check-Up

Make an appointment with one of our heating service experts to do a thorough check of your heater. We’ll make sure it’s working properly and ready to use once the temperature drops so you don’t experience any unwanted and inconvenient problems.

Fertilize Your Lawn

Grass roots will continue to grow until the ground temperature gets down to 40 degrees, so feed your grass a fresh helping of fertilizer to keep it growing strong through the fall and ready for winter.

Install Outdoor Lights

As it gets cooler, the days get shorter and there are fewer hours of sunlight, so why not install a few outdoor lights on your garage or ones that lead to your front door? You’ll light the way not only for yourself, but for your guests, too.

Test Your Detectors

Put fresh batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector and test them to make sure that they are working properly. This is a good thing to do every few months.

Insulate Your Pipes

When colder temperatures hit, your plumbing pipes could freeze and burst, causing big plumbing problems. Our plumbing experts can make sure your pipes are prepared for the fall and winter – just give us a call.


Could Renewables Be a Threat to Natural Gas?

Many homeowners use electricity as their primary source of power, however, there are some who turn to natural gas. Whether this choice is due to a preference or an availability, there are both pros and cons to using natural gas. Recently, our HVAC installation experts came across an article by Paulo Santos that discusses the rise of natural gas and the effect renewables could have on it. We thought we’d share:

“Commonly, I’d say most of us expect U.S. natural gas (UNG) to see increased usage over time. Coal is on its deathbed, nuclear power is seeing blowback since the Fukushima disaster, and U.S. natural gas seems perennially cheap. Adding these things together seems to indicate that, over time, we’ll see increased natural gas usage. This might/should push natural gas prices upward. To this, I would add that the development of LNG export facilities, like those built by Cheniere Energy (LNG), provide potential for increased natural gas demand.

Well, this all sounds good, but I am about to describe a risk that’s not as often considered. It’s a risk that looms pretty large, and whose materialization has already been seen elsewhere.

What Is This Risk?

The risk has a name: renewables. Renewable sources of energy, which are most often used to produce electricity, include things such as solar generation or wind generation. Why are renewables a risk? Let me explain:

Approximately 38.3% of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. is used to produce electricity. Residential plus commercial users consume ~30.1% of the natural gas, and their consumption has been rather stable over time. Industrial users consume ~31.5% of the natural gas, and while their usage has been growing recently due to cheap natural gas, it can be said to be stable over a longer time frame. As a result, demand for electricity generation has been responsible for all natural gas consumption growth in the U.S.

Now, it is this demand for electricity generation which is at risk. The risk comes from the fact that renewables (ex-hydroelectric) are growing quickly, and have gone from 7.1% of all power generation in 2014 to 9.5% in 2017 (ttm). This happened in the context of stable electricity generation. Electricity generation in the U.S. in 2017 (ttm) is lower than it was back in 2011.

Renewables (ex-hydroelectric) are often what’s called “must run.” That is, if solar or wind is generating power, the grid must take it. Someone else has to shut down. On the other hand, natural gas generation is most often both the “marginal producer” (the last to come in when prices are higher, the first to go out if they drop) and a flexible producer (one with the ability to ramp up and down quickly). As a result, added generation of the kind renewables offer mostly tends to displace natural gas generation. Therein lies the risk.

Compensating for this effect are, at times, political factors, such as a drive toward shutting down coal by subjecting it to more stringent emission rules. However, with the Trump administration this political drive isn’t there, and won’t be there for several years. The result, of course, is that as renewables grow through time, natural gas is, again, the prime victim. Also, in case you think this is fantasy, there is an actual precedent as the exact same thing happened in Europe.

Renewables’ development is further along in Europe compared to the U.S. But it should tend to catch up. As a result, the dynamics above might well be in out full force as we speak. Indeed, natural gas demand (ttm) for power generation has been heading down for a year or so already. There’s obviously the possibility that this was simply due to weather. Still, the inexorable growth in renewables generation is a fact, so even if it wasn’t structural this past year, it can turn structural at any time.

Conclusion

The growth in renewable power generation poses a direct threat to natural gas volumes and prices. As a result, this threat can impact natural gas E&P companies. This is because of the loss of volumes and pricing. It can also impact pipelines, which supply natural gas to the market. This is because of the loss of volumes and the increased risk from possible E&P failures.

This isn’t a merely theoretical threat. We’ve already seen its impact in Europe, where natural gas volumes fell a lot. Ultimately, pricing also fell a lot, and indeed has fallen below the cost of landed U.S. LNG. Right now, Europe is stabilizing on account of political action leading to the closure of nuclear and coal power plants. However, such political action does not seem likely right now in the U.S.”


28 Safety Tips for Your Labor Day

It’s time to get ready for the last vacation of the summer – that’s right, Labor Day is this weekend and whether you’re hosting a Labor Day party for family or friends or hitting the road for a road trip, there are several things you can do to stay safe:

Grilling Tips

  • Keep children and pets away from any type of open flame.
  • Position the grill so that it’s in a well-ventilated area and away from trees, bushes, the house, and anything else that can catch fire.
  • Always use long-handed utensils and wear protective, fire-resistant gear when grilling.
  • Follow the instructions in the grill’s owner’s manual.
  • Have a fire extinguisher ready to extinguish flames if they get out of control.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Electrical Tips

  • Don’t use electricity around water, including the pool, sprinklers, hot tub, etc.
  • Inspect your extension cords for frays or other damage before using them.
  • If you’re hosting a party, make sure your guests stay away from power lines or electrical transformers near your home.
  • Keep your power tools safely locked away in your garage or shed.

UV Tips

  • Always wear sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to protect your skin.
  • If you’re sensitive to sunburns, wear a hat and try your best to stay in the shade.
  • Stay hydrated – the sun can dehydrate you quickly.
  • Remember that UV rays bounce off of sand, concrete, and water.
  • If you do get burned, apply aloe to the burn on a regular basis.
  • Keep in mind the strongest UV index is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Swimming Tips

  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Check the weather before you decide to go in the pool, lake, or ocean.
  • Make sure children in or near the water are under supervision at all times and are nearby.
  • If you have a pool at your home, make sure it’s secured with barriers.
  • Never leave children unattended.
  • If it looks like rain, get out of the water as quickly as possible to avoid lightning strikes.

Road Trip Tips

  • Always have a first-aid kit and back-up food and water supplies in your trunk.
  • Before you leave, check your tire pressure and your fluids.
  • Never drive when you’re tired or if you’ve been drinking.
  • Make sure someone back home knows your destination, route, and itinerary.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Don’t text and drive. If you need to navigate, have a passenger do it for you.

Why OMS Is Great for Office Buildings

Get the Best

For more than 40 years, Oliver Mechanical Services has been offering HVAC and electrical services to the area’s office buildings to help make sure they run smoothly. We offer professional, factory-trained technicians and the latest materials and technologies to take care of all of your installation, repair, and maintenance needs.

Employee Production

When you run a business, one of the most important things you should do is keep your employees happy. When you have happy employees, you have hardworking employees, and much of the time that happiness comes from a comfortable work environment. After all – it’s hard to work well in a place that’s constantly too hot or too cold.

At Oliver Mechanical Services, we can make sure that your office environment is the right temperature all year round. We offer high-quality, energy-efficient HVAC systems that are designed to meet the needs of any size office building. With a new installation, we can help you save money on your monthly or quarterly energy bill and if your current system is in need of a repair, we can fix it quickly to get you back on track. We even offer custom-made ductwork that can help your HVAC system run at optimal efficiency.

Don’t let an old or inefficient HVAC system ruin your office building’s comfortability and hinder your employee work production. Contact us today to get things back to working well.

Electrical Issues

Office buildings have lots of different electrical needs, from telephone wiring services to computer hookups and more. If you’re in need of an electrical service, let our professionals take care of it. We can address virtually any electrical issue you may have – even if it’s as simple as a retro-fit lighting installation for your lobby, parking lot, cafeteria, or bathroom. We’ll take care of it quickly.


10 Fun Facts About the 2017 Solar Eclipse

What to Expect During the Event

As you’ve likely heard, we’re less than one week away from an iconic total solar eclipse. The event will happen Monday, August 21st beginning around 9 a.m. PDT in Oregon and ending around 2:50 p.m. EDT in South Carolina. Here are some fun facts about the big event:

One

The last total solar eclipse to span the length of the continental U.S. was on June 8, 1918, which means your parents and even your grandparents have likely never seen one.

Two

The eclipse’s “path of totality” refers to the exact path that the moon’s shadow creates over the Earth. It’s only in this path that you can see the sun completely covered by the moon.

Three

People in 14 different states will be in the path of totality: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Four

The moon will travel at various speeds (from 3,000 mph down to 1,500 mph) as it crosses the U.S. This means totality will last anywhere between 2 minutes and almost 3 minutes, depending on where you view it.

Five

Solar eclipses happen on average 1-2 times per year, but many don’t pass over populated areas.

Six

When the moon completely covers the sun, those in the path of totality will experience a darkness similar to dusk and will be able to see stars, the planet Venus, and the sun’s corona (the aura of plasma that surrounds it).

Seven

Only one major city will have a great view of the eclipse: Nashville, Tennessee.

Eight

The United States is the only country that will be lucky enough to experience totality (other countries will be able to see only a partial solar eclipse). The last time this happened was on January 11, 1880.

Nine

When totality occurs, animals will become confused and think it’s night time – birds will fall silent, spiders will take down their webs, crickets will chirp, bees and ants will return to their nests, and mosquitos will start biting.

Ten

Those of us in Pennsylvania aren’t lucky enough to be in the path of totality, but we’ll be able to see the moon covering 75%-80% of the sun.

Remember, never look directly at the sun during a solar eclipse. Even if the moon is covering part of it, it can still permanently damage your eyes. Make sure you have the right glasses if you want to look directly at the eclipse (sorry, sunglasses aren’t protective enough).


 

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