Using a Space Heater Won’t Seem Like a Good Idea After Reading This

Space heaters were designed to warm areas that aren’t amply heated by central heat and air. Yet more and more often they are being used as a substitute for central heat and air altogether. The top reasons for this trend:

  • Furnace is not working or at least not efficiently enough.
  • Trying to minimize the electric or gas bill.
  • Heating rooms that don’t have vents from the central heating.
  • Home uses old-style wall furnace, and far-away rooms have to be warmed with a space heater.

Space heaters are a great risk to you and your property and should only be used when absolutely necessary. Here’s just how dangerous they are: The National Fire Protection Association estimates that between 2009 and 2013, heating equipment caused more than 56,000 home fires in the United States. Space heaters were the cause of 40% of these fires, and caused 5 out of 6 (84%) of the deaths resulting from all house fires caused by heating equipment.

It’s obvious we have become too reliant on space heaters. Office employees use them, bank tellers have them at their feet, and you can find them at most store checkout counters, in cabins, and even in tents.

Because of this, the leading factor in fatal home fires is ironically too little ‘space’ between the heater and flammable materials.

Since it is so difficult to make a space heater “safe” we only recommend them as a short-term solution while waiting on your central heat system to be repaired. They’re easily tampered with by children, their size makes them difficult to secure, and they usually have scalding hot surfaces, or white-hot elements just inches behind a guard.

If safety doesn’t convince you, you may be surprised to find out that they likely cost you more money. Many people are under the assumption that heating one room is more cost effective than using central heating and air to heat the whole house. Let us provide you with a case study.

We knew a neighbor that was using a space heater to heat her 850 sq ft condo last year (2016) to avoid paying a company to come out and repair her unit. Her electric bill prior to this was averaging $55 a month or $1.83 a day. Want to guess what it was using the space heater? Nearly a whopping $150!! $5 a day, nearly triple her utility bill. They simply aren’t designed to heat large spaces so they are less efficient and will need to run constantly. Since they fail the two greatest tests of Safety and Efficiency. We say stay away from space heaters as a long-term solution for home heating needs.

5 Reasons a Humidifier Can Help You Fight Cold and Flu

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Flu season is in full swing, there have already been twice as many deaths and exponentially more outbreaks than we normally have this early in the year. It’s shaping up to be the worst in a decade. Across the nation over 12,000 cases have already been reported, and here in Oklahoma influenza is on the rise too.

Everyone seems to be coming down with something. While there is no cure for the common cold, there are effective precautionary measures your family can take. Notable New York City-based physician Dr. Keri Peterson says that one step people can take during cold & flu season is to “keep humidity levels in your home between 40 and 60 percent. This can help reduce the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.”

Buying a humidifier is perhaps the single greatest action you can take to insure wellness. Here’s why a humidifier can be so effective:

  1. Higher humidity levels have proven to kill off the virus. It’s more likely than not that the flu virus will enter your home in the next few months, but a good humidifier can help reduce the survival of flu viruses that may be in the air. Once you buy a humidifier it will need to be cleaned so look for a model with an opening large enough to allow for easy cleaning.
  2. Humidifiers help give you reprieve from coughing and congestion. Congestion is often caused by inflammation in the airways. Sinus inflammation and infections are often triggered by breathing too dry of air.
  3. Humidifiers help keep your throat and nasal passages hydrated. Comfortable humidity levels help keep throat and nasal passages hydrated, helping you breathe better. Plus if you happen to catch something from a coworker, keeping your nasal passages and your throat moist could help you heal faster, and should reduce symptoms like coughing and sneezing.
  4. Sleeping better. By keeping your throat and nasal passages hydrated, humidifiers can help provide an optimal sleep environment. A better night’s rest can help your body maintain peak health to fight off illness, as well as recover more quickly if you do get sick.
  5. Help break up mucus. This may sound like no big deal UNTIL you’re dealing with mucus. It’s the worst. The longer it stays, the more you cough, the more inflamed your airways become. Proper humidity puts a stop to this dreadful cycle.

Humidifiers are an indispensable addition to your home, in order to keep your family well-rested, and comfortable throughout cold and flu season. Make sure to change the water daily and clean them regularly to provide optimum levels of healthy moisture throughout your home. Call Norman Heating & Air, if you would like an opinion of what humidifier is the best fit for your home.

4 Tips for Breathing Easier This Winter

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We’re all well aware that winter brings on the chills. And we’re not talking about some measly goosebumps — but the sniffles, the achoo’s and the “ugh, I’m dying's.” We’re talking sinuses and colds. In other words, your body’s worst nightmare. 

Believe it or not, your heating and air conditioning have an effect on your indoor air quality. And it’s more important than ever to conduct a good cleaning since you’ll be spending the majority of your time indoors. Here are four tips for breathing easier this winter.

1. Replace or upgrade your filters.

While this may seem trivial, it makes a huge difference. Think for a moment, how often do you actually take out and replace your HVAC filter? For most systems, it should be changed once a month. If you have multiple occupants living in your home, maybe twice. And, if you have pets, more often than that. Pets’ tendency to shed makes them the culprit for a clogged air filter. When dander remains in the filter, any air that passes through is then recirculated back into your home.
Fiberglass filters are an acceptable standard for most HVAC systems, but it’s always a good idea to ask your local heating and air specialist. If you’re looking to really improve your indoor air quality, consider switching to filters with a higher Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating.

2. Take advantage of your thermostat’s “fan on” mode.

Many of us assume to set our thermostats to auto. After all, it keeps us from continually having to get up and adjust when the temperature reaches one extreme or another. Of the three modes: auto, off and fan on, the last option is ideal if you’re actively looking to boost your air quality. Using the system fan allows your home to consistently replace the indoor air — which may help those suffering from severe allergies that lie dormant otherwise.

3. Monitor the humidity levels.

Humidity can also play a part in seasonal allergies and illnesses. When it’s higher than 50 percent, it can promote mildew and mold growth. A happy level for a home is between 30 and 50. Anything below 30 has the ability to dry out skin and cause respiratory issues. You can find digital humidifier at a variety of stores such as Target or Walgreens. They’re a great way to balance your levels out and keep your immune system strong!

4. Schedule a professional air duct cleaning.

If you’re still having issues, your home may be due for a duct cleaning. Particles, dust and allergies have the ability to accumulate within your air ducts. As your system runs, they’re continually released back into the air — making all those strategies a little less effective. We recommend having a professional air duct cleaning done each season. This will help sweep out any mold or pesky bacteria that’s causing your family breathing problems.

If you’ve completed each of these steps and haven’t experienced notable results, reach out to us at (405) 823-9641. There are several types of filters and services we offer that can help keep your home healthy all winter long!

Fueling Your Home: Choosing a Furnace

With the cooler weather settling in, there is nothing worse than knowing your heating unit could malfunction at any minute. If you are shopping around for a new unit, take a look at our breakdown of different furnace options. This will help you choose the best one for your home!

Electric furnaces:

An electric furnace is the cheapest option when it comes to initial costs because they don’t require special venting, fuel pipes or storage tanks. They're fairly easy to maintain and the units require minimal space. Since there is no fuel combustion involved, they're a relatively safe option and tend to last for 15-20 years. Unfortunately, they're the least efficient furnace and often result in higher bills compared to the other furnaces. If you are expecting harsh winters, electric is not for you.

The average cost for an electric furnace is $665 with an estimated installation cost of $1,950, but the prices will vary greatly between brands.

Gas furnaces:

Natural gas furnaces are considered the most convenient and efficient option, especially if you plan to endure a harsh winter. Although they cost a bit more than electric, they warm up your home quicker and often yield lower utility bills due to high efficiency. If you're expecting a harsh winter, gas furnaces are recommended because they're less expensive to heat your home than electricity.

The average cost for a gas furnace is $1,215 with an estimated installation cost of $2,370. If you're considering converting your gas furnace to propane, you can purchase a conversion kit for about $100.

Green furnace options:

If you are looking to make your home more environmentally friendly, solar panels or geothermal options might be for you. Make sure you consult an expert before investing to ensure your home is compatible with these alternative options.

Greener options will have a higher cost upfront than traditional furnaces. With current energy rates, you may not recover the initial investment, even over the lifetime of your home. On the other hand, if traditional fuels become considerably more expensive, then the green options might be a smarter option.

Setting the Thermostat for Company

Setting your thermostat at a comfortable temperature can be difficult any time of year. But, knowing you have house guests for the holidays can make the task even more daunting. The Norman Heating and Air Conditioning team has put together a quick guide to setting your thermostat at a comfortable, energy and cost efficient temperature so that your holidays can be cozy! 

In the cooler months, the energy saving temperature is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime hours. Energy.gov reports that lowering your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours each day will help you reduce energy usage by five to 15 percent each year. 

Depending on your personal preferences, one idea to keep in mind is lowering the thermostat at night while you sleep. Some people sleep more comfortably in cooler temperatures and those who like to be warm can snuggle up with an extra blanket. If you would like your home to cool off before you fall asleep, turn down the thermostat about an hour before you plan on heading to bed.

Another factor to consider when adjusting the thermostat is whether or not you plan to utilize your fireplace. If you are, turn your thermostat down so your house doesn’t get too warm with both the heater and the fire running.

For some, holidays can be a busy and stressful time. It would be great for it to be an enjoyable and comfortable time for all. Keep the tips we have shared in mind and the next time you have guests, turn the air down a couple of degrees and have some cozy blankets or throws on hand. Your guests will be comfortable and better yet, your energy bill will be reasonable! 

Replace vs Repair

While many resources list life expectancies of your heating and cooling systems, it is fairly difficult to estimate due to many factors such as climate, usage, maintenance, rating and more. We have created a list of things to consider when evaluating whether or not you should replace or repair your unit.

Age and Efficiency

Something to consider is how old your current unit is and how efficient is your current unit. If you plan to be in your home for the long haul, it might be more beneficial to replace your current unit with a more energy efficient one because the more energy efficient unit will save you more money down the road.

Affecting your home

If you are noticing that your home has humidity problems, more dust build-up than usual, inconsistent airflow between rooms or your heating or cooling system seems noisy, there might be a problem with your duct system or equipment and you should bring someone out to evaluate the problem.

Cost Comparison

Regardless of if you are replacing or repairing, make sure that you receive all of the costs and potential costs that you can incur with both options, not just the initial expenses. Consider that by replacing it now, what are the chances that you will have to repair it again and how much will that cost. Weigh the cost differences and see which is the most effective.

Ultimately, the decision to repair or replace is up to you, the homeowner, as it is mainly an economic decision. The question is, do you want to invest in the equipment or replace it completely?

7 Tips to Prepare Your Heating & Cooling System for Winter

As Oklahomans know, the weather can be unpredictable.

From blazing hot summers to teeth chattering winters, it’s difficult to forecast — but also easy to prepare for. October is the perfect time to have your heating system inspected, repaired, or replaced.

Manufacturers recommend annual maintenance and Norman Heating & Air Conditioning makes it easy to increase energy efficiency, reduce utility costs, and prolong the life of your system.

It’s important to have a plan in place. After all, no one wants their heater to fail during the midst of a winter storm. Our team here at Norman Heating & Air Conditioning has gathered eight tips to prepare your heating system for winter.

Outdoor Maintenance

1. Clear away any debris or vegetation from your outdoor unit.

2. Cover your outdoor unit to protect it from winter weather. (Do not cover a heat pump as it will run during the winter.)

Indoor Maintenance

3. Replace your air filter monthly to maintain proper air flow and keep your heating system from overheating.

4. Clear any clutter from around your heating system. This is a fire hazard.

5. Install a carbon monoxide or replace the batteries and test your existing detector.

6. Test run the heat operation before it gets cold outside.

7. Most importantly have your heating system tuned up every fall to ensure safety and proper operation.

What other ways do you prepare your home for winter? Share your ideas and stories with us in the comments below and give us a call at (405) 823–9641 to schedule your winter tune up.