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Stay Comfy Minnesota Blog

Ways to Ensure Healthy Indoor Air in Your Home

Posted by Kelly on Nov 25, 2015 1:30:41 PM

We strive to be healthy – exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, and everything else in moderation. One area of keeping healthy that’s not only good for you and your home is maintaining quality indoor air. It’s often overlooked, but we know that most people spend the majority of the day inside their home or office. Having healthy indoor air can keep allergies, headaches, and other respiratory problems at bay, according to the Department of Energy. Here are some ways to ensure healthy indoor air in your home.

Clean Your Filter, or Better Yet, Upgrade to an Air Cleaner

It’s the number one rule to keeping your HVAC unit up and running, and keeping your filter clean can also help your system remove more particles from the air. Our resident expert Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, says that a conventional filter is primarily to protect your furnace, however, and it’s not so much for protecting your lungs. 

“If you would like something better, consider an air cleaner or an air purifier,” he says.

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Topics: Air quality

When Should I Get an HVAC System Cleaning?

Posted by Kelly on Nov 23, 2015 1:37:38 PM

If you’ve been putting off getting your HVAC system cleaned, no time is better than the present to make the call and get it done. However, if you get your HVAC looked at regularly, is there a better time of year to get an HVAC system cleaning?

Offseason Satisfaction

If time is on your side and getting your HVAC cleaned isn’t an emergency, then make an appointment during the offseason. That means before the bitter winter air rolls in and before the summer heat hits. Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, says that during the offseason, technicians will have more time on their hands, making it easier to schedule an appointment and giving them more time to perform a thorough inspection.

“More often than not, in the heat of the summer or the middle of the arctic winter, the techs are very busy and pressured to get things done quickly and move on to the next emergency call,” says Keith. “The offseason is always best for proactive maintenance, non-emergency repairs, and upgrades.”

Keith says there tends to be a lull in late February through early May – especially if it’s a mild winter – and then late August and September, when weather tends to cool down and life gets busy with school. Those are your peak times to get the most for your money and flexibility when scheduling.

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Topics: HVAC

Consumer Guide: How to Understand the SEER Rating

Posted by Kelly on Nov 19, 2015 9:55:51 AM

Although we are heading into the colder months, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time of year to be on the lookout for deals on air conditioners or start planning on upgrading your current model for next year’s cooling season. In order to really understand what you are looking for when buying a new AC, you first need to understand what a SEER rating is.

Understanding SEER

Basically, SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, is an efficiency rating for air conditioners and air conditioning systems as deemed by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, explains it as the annual average of the amount of cooling BTUs generated by the system for each watt of electrical energy consumed. Put simply, a SEER rating is determined by looking at the amount of cooling produced – or heat energy moved from inside to the outdoors (BTUs) – divided by the amount of electricity used (watts). Products with higher SEER ratings are more efficient.

“SEER comparison can be used to accurately estimate savings when you are in the market for an upgrade,” says Keith. “Your new system SEER divided by the old system SEER is a very accurate estimate of how much you will save.”

For example, if your new model is 16 SEER and your older model is 10 SEER, you divide 16 by 10 to equal 1.60. Put in percentages, that means your new system will provide 60 percent more BTUs into the home than the old system for the same electrical energy used, he says. 

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Topics: Cooling

Electric Bill Intervention: How To Lower Your Bills In The Winter

Posted by Kelly on Nov 17, 2015 2:47:27 PM

 You can feel the chill in the air, the winter breeze starting to nip at your nose, and the holiday spirit bringing warmth to homes across the country. With all the extra entertaining and energy needed to keep your home extra cozy this winter, we wanted to help you find ways to lower your electric bills this season. I mean, who doesn’t want a little extra spending money during the holidays. So let’s bring down our bills and bring on the eggnog with an electric bill intervention.

1. Limit Or Stop Using Space Heaters

Space heaters are a huge energy sucker in homes. A small one can cost anywhere from $20-$50 a month if you are running it constantly when you are home. They can be cost effective if you are turning down your thermostat and just using it to supplement heat in one room (the room you are spending time in). But when people use them in place of a gas furnace to heat their home, they will end up spending a lot more. In fact, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce says that when used to heat a whole home or business, gas furnaces cost 43 percent of the cost of using electric space heaters to heat the same area.

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Topics: Winter

Everything You Need to Know When Choosing a Furnace for Your Home

Posted by Kelly on Nov 12, 2015 10:28:58 AM

Choosing a furnace for your home is something you may only have to do once or twice in a lifetime. Furnaces are made to last about 20 years, and depending on if you are moving into a brand new home or looking to replace out an older model furnace in your current home, it’s good to know what to look for when the time comes. Nobody expects you to be an expert when making the decision, but coming to the table with a little knowledge will help you be more confident in your choice.

What’s Your Type?

Understanding the current type of furnace in your home may play a role in what you replace it with, says our resident expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager for Minnesota Air. The U.S. Department of Energy has a simple infographic to help you learn about the different types, but your contractor’s company can also tell you.

Is it metal vented – with a metal pipe to the chimney – or is it vented outdoors with plastic pipe (PVC or ABS)? A technician or dealer will be able to help you choose what’s right for you, based on your current system.

If you are a moving to a brand new home and they let you pick your own HVAC, you’ll have a little more freedom in your choice. Pick whatever type you want, but remember that extra rebates and long-term energy savings should factor into your decision about whether to spend the extra money for a higher efficiency unit.

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Topics: Heating

Questions to Ask Your Heating Repair Company

Posted by Kelly on Nov 10, 2015 1:49:11 PM

When hiring a technician to work on your HVAC system, you want to make sure you are getting what you pay for – a professional who will do the job right the first time and is trained to spot any possible issues. So how can a homeowner make sure they are hiring the right person for the job? Answer: by looking through our list of the right questions to ask your heating repair company.

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Topics: Heating

3 Essential Tips From An HVAC Expert

Posted by Kelly on Nov 5, 2015 2:06:30 PM

If you had a chance to talk to an expert about something that could make your life better, of course you’d do it! Well, we are bringing the expert to you! Having knowledge about your HVAC system can make your home much more comfortable, thereby making you more comfortable, and perhaps even saving you a few dollars in the long run. We talked to our resident HVAC expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, to give us the some essential tips when it comes to your HVAC.

“HVAC systems are like lighting in a home – you take it for granted until you’re in the dark,” says Keith. “It’s so easy to take your mechanical systems for granted and ignore them until something is wrong, but then it may be too late, or it may be more expensive to fix.”

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Topics: HVAC

Common Furnace Problems and How to Fix Them

Posted by Kelly on Nov 3, 2015 3:20:22 PM

If you own a furnace, chances are at some point in its lifespan you are going to need to call a pro to make a repair or two. But the type of repair depends on how well you maintain your furnace. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the most common furnace problems and how to fix them! 

Common Issues Of An Improperly Maintained Furnace

If you don’t get annual maintenance checks or change your filter regularly, you’ll likely be a making a call to an HVAC technician a lot more often than you’d like. Some of the more common culprits that cause an improperly maintained furnace to go out are:

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Topics: Heating

4 Ways to Avoid Emergency Furnace Repair

Posted by Kelly on Oct 29, 2015 10:57:58 AM

No one wants to be in the middle of a cold snap when the furnace goes out, because if it does, you may find yourself scrambling to find a technician to fix it as soon as possible. In order to avoid that whole headache, we’ve put together the top 4 ways to avoid an emergency furnace repair.

1. Buy Quality Equipment

It may be hard to make sure you have a quality HVAC system if your furnace came with the house when you bought it, but if you have the option to pick your furnace — choose quality over a lower price. You will see better warranties, better efficiency, higher quality parts, and a longer-lasting unit.

“Like anything else, you tend to get what you pay for,” says Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air. “Buy a quality, name brand from a company that will stand behind it, and you will not regret it.”

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Topics: Heating

How to Buy a Furnace: What You Need to Know to Make a Smart Purchase

Posted by Kelly on Oct 27, 2015 11:57:23 AM

 When it comes time for you to look for a new furnace, you’ll want to be armed with the right tools. Doing your homework, understanding what you get for your money, and learning about the incentives, warranties, and the installation process will help you make the best choice. If you’re wondering how to buy a furnace, here’s our plan of attack when it comes to making a smart furnace purchase.

Do Your Research

It can’t be said enough: knowledge is power. If you learn about something you’re guaranteed to make smarter choices regarding whatever it is you learn about. That’s no different with the purchases we make. 

If you are in the market for a new furnace, understand your options. Do you want a system that uses gas, electric, or oil heating? Do you want a standard or high-efficiency unit? Do you want a split system or a packaged system?

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Topics: Heating

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