Home Comfort and Commercial Services

Really Easy Fixes

Not fun waking up to snow this morning! But we know that snow in April is short lived, so I wasn’t too worried when our house was cold and we had no heat. But then…

after a quick check of a few cold radiators, no windows open, no doors open (it happens!). I knew to check our programable thermostat.

Blank. It was blank. So, I thought, do I call our technicians at Owens now? Or do I wait until next fall? I do have a preventive maintenance agreement. I decided to fiddle around with the thermostat and see what I could do. Fifteen minutes into it…blank. Still nothing but BLANK. So I made the call, scheduled the appointment. They were coming out right away. So responsive, but then our dispatcher mentioned something about batteries. Nope, had not thought of that! Our insightful dispatcher told me how to take off the cover and take out the batteries. A quick switch with new ones and voila, it lit up. All is working fine. Imagine that, a quick, simple fix with just new batteries!

I’m sure the dispatchers are still making fun of me. It’s not the first, nor will it be the last.

Lesson learned; it’s often something simple, such as batteries, on/off switch, a really dirty filter, a clogged outside vent, a bird….There are a lot of little things that can lead to a small breakdown! I have resolved to keeping a list, and to keeping new batteries around!

Come on summer!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

If Saving Money Interests You…

                         Want to save some money?

1. This winter, we had visitors that were NOT cute. We had mice. We hired a great company, Plunkets, to take care of the problem. Paul was great as he went through our house and surprised me at how many areas the little pests could sneak in. I learned a lot. But I also learned how much cold air was coming into the house, and warm air leaking out through those same little areas. Then he walked me down into my basement and showed me all the penetrations from plumbing lines and electricity wires, I couldn’t believe all the gaping holes in my house. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff, it’s insulation in a can, and take a weekend to go around and seal everything, filling around windows, too. OR, you can do what I do and HIRE a handyman to do it! Of course Owens happens to have a few fabulous guys!

2. Hire an HVAC contractor to take a hard look at all your ductwork — are there any ducts leaking that need to be re-sealed?  You need to hire a professional technician and get an HVAC tune-up. You might spend a couple hundred bucks, but you can save significantly depending on how old or out of shape your HVAC system is.

3. Replace all your lighting with CFLs or LEDs. People tell us they’ve replaced all their incandescents, but it just isn’t true. The DOE says that only about 16% of sockets are filled with CFLs right now.

4. Program your thermostat. Most people who buy programable thermostats don’t program them. Guilty as charged. Yesterday I looked at out thermostat, it said 75°. If I actually programmed my thermostat, I would not need to remember. Now I realize the temperature in Minnesota is unpredictable……but with the new smart thermostats, you can monitor from your phone. Set an alarm, and  start saving money!

5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater. The Department of Energy recommends 120 degrees. If you have a tank water heater, it keeps a certain amount of water hot and ready to go all day, so lowering the temperature reduces the energy you use to heat the water. The larger the water tank, the bigger the savings.

There are a LOT of things you can do to save money and energy, but starting small and inexpensive seems less overwhelming. We’ll have bigger ideas soon! If you have time and like browsing, these sites are fun.

Follow : @houselogic on Twitter | houselogic on Facebook

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

April Fools Day

My title isn’t implying anything except that the spring like temperatures we enjoyed this weekend, reeled us in…..and then cast us aside like a pair of old, smelly shoes.

But we have hope! Pouring through gardening magazines helps! I also went apartment hunting this weekend with my son, and was so pleased to discover all the ‘green’ features these newly built apartment buildings were promoting. Although, these apartments are costly! I asked too many times, are you serious? Is this April Fools’?

April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

Read more: April Fools’ Day: Origin and History | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/aprilfools1.html#ixzz2xgc8u8pK

Probably more information than you want to know, but I’m a nerd for stuff like this and it seems as though we have some time to kill before we need to dive into spring cleaning, air conditioning maintenance, water heaters, filter changing, and all the pieces we need to work to make our lives easier and our homes comfortable!

Posted in Energy Management, Heating, Home Comfort, Save money and Energy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

March Madness

One of the most frustrating times of the year, March Madness. Nobodies brackets pan out, and people, even children get so upset when their team loses they cry. Do children bet money? Because I have no idea why they would care SO much!

Well you know what makes me cry about March….is March WEATHER madness. It’s cold, it’s warm. It’s sunny, it’s cloudy. It’s clear, it snows. It’s icy, it’s wet. PLEASE some consistency would be nice!

It’s one of those months that cannot make up its mind. Who am I? Am I spring, am I winter? I know one thing March is….a terrible tease.

There is not a lot you can do to prepare your house now for spring/summer. Minnesota is one of those states where overnight the trees turn green, the perennials pop out of the ground, the birds wake you up with song and the squirrel olympics take on new meaning.

So, while waiting, it’s a good time to write a list of what needs to be done, and readied for the happier days ahead! If it feels overwhelming, take on one thing a day, and get help from a professional.

http://www.mnenergysmart.com/spring-clean-your-way-to-energy-savings/ 

Posted in Energy Management, Home Comfort, Save money and Energy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

First Day Of Spring?

First day of Spring, March 20th, 2014. Next predicted snowstorm, well here it is, spelled out for us;  http://www.bringmethenews.com/weather/

The thing is, it is our choice to live in Minnesota, right? All that Minnesota ‘nice’ and those midwestern values. We thought it would be great for our families! Nobody really made promises, or said anything about Minnesota ‘weather’ nice!

The fun news is that we will always be able to brag about surviving the winter of 2013-14 forever. There have been at least 50 + below zero days this winter. There have been colder winters, but if you are under 30, it was the coldest winter in your lifetime. To read a an interesting timeline of this winter, click here;

http://stormtrack.areavoices.com/tag/below-zero/#sthash.bHvX7yYX.dpuf

When you’re in the business of fixing and installing new furnaces and boilers, you might think this  kind of weather is good for business! Well, it’s not awful, but we really see ourselves in the ‘comfort’ business. When you’re happy, we’re happy. With the stresses of todays world, we want you to be able to come home from work, and have your home work for you, how you like it!

Which is one reason we believe so strongly in our Home Preventive Maintenance program.  http://www.owensco.com/home_services_preventive_maintenance.html

Let’s hope this spring brings better days, and let Owens Companies help you get ready!

Look for our blog on things you can do on your own, and even gardening tips. Our summers are short. We have to me the most of them!

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Taxes and Home Improvement Credits!

While we wait for the snow to melt and the daffodils to sprout, we are also reminded that it’s that time of year again, TAX TIME. The good news, for those who were thinking energy savings when they made home improvements, is that Energy tax credits on select improvements are available through the end of tax year 2013.

So while we hear the snow slide off our roof, and watch it trickle out of downspouts and gutters, maybe we could think about the value of going green and getting tax credits at the same time!

Here is a link to some information that might help you realize what credits you might have if you did make any home improvements;

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-credits/how-to-collect-tax-energy-credits/#ixzz2vlc36GqA 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Daylight Saving Time! The Good and the Bad!

So for some of us, this is the weekend we’ve been waiting for. All winter I dream about warmer, longer summer nights. I never really knew the history of Daylight Saving Time, I just knew it meant sunlight well past 9pm, longer soccer games and maybe a cool evening walk. I also assumed there were energy savings involved somewhere, less indoor lighting, less air conditioning use, and probably more hidden savings somewhere. I thought that was the purpose of DST.

Anyway, I did some research, and after several articles, this one seemed to sum it up the best. You can find this link on our facebook page too, if you want to share with someone. It’s pretty interesting.

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2014/03/daylight_savings_time_2014_turn_clocks_forward_spring.html

 https://www.facebook.com/OwensCompanies

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Is there snow or ice on your gas meter?

Coldest winter in 35 years.  This winter, there has been snow on the the ground in 49 of 50 states. Only Florida escaped! More snow than we’ve had in years. Most school closings EVER. Pot holes that will only get bigger and deeper….Should I go on? Ice dams, flooding, and expect summer to have a late start!

Minnesota winters, are not for the faint of heart. We love the adventure of it all, and we brag about how tough it is and how tough we are, secretly planning any kind of get away we can muster. And yet, there are those select few who retire ‘up north’. Those with original Viking blood.

To make it even more fun, our heating bills have sky rocketed! I learned today about our outside gas meter. Did you know that if your gas meter is covered in snow or ice, it can create a potentially dangerous situation.

The melting snow from your roof or eaves can drip onto your meter possibly blocking the
vent on your meters regulator. A blocked vent on your meter could build up gas pressure
that can expel gas back into your home or potentially cut gas flow and prevent your
appliances and furnace from working properly, or working at all.
First of all, you should know where your gas meter is! Then, you should keep an eye on it! After a big snow, especially if it’s cold, you need to brush the snow off of your meter.

GENTLY brush it clean with your hands or a broom. If the meter is covered with ice, call your gas company and ask them for their help.

If your furnace isn’t working, and we’ve had a winter like this one, it could be because your meter is covered in snow and ice. Check it out. It’s at least something you can look at before you call a professional.

http://www.xcelenergy.com/About_Us/Energy_News/News_Releases/Keep_gas_meters_clear_of_ice_and_snow,_Company_urges_in_North_Dakota

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ecobee vs Next, the Smart Thermostat

I’m not sure if this is your experience, but our gas AND electric bills doubled since the first polar vortex. I know it’s been REALLY cold, but what have we done, or not done, to deserve this? The ultimate salt in the wound! Too cold for anyone to go outside, and now you have to PAY for it? Doesn’t seem right!

So, in thinking how to lower our bill, I thought I’d revisit the smart thermostat. I admit, I’ve been guilty of turning the thermostat up too high, then forgetting about it until way past midnight. (shhh, don’t tell)

John Owens, our fearless leader, is always asked the difference between two of the most popular smart thermostats, and so I’ll share what he found.

http://t.co/NhgLe5jLZT

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the polar vortex, to spring like temperatures!

What happens to your house when there is a 60 degree swing in weather? Add to that, snow, snow, and more snow. It’s the perfect recipe for ice dams. But what exactly causes ice dams, what can you do to prevent them, and why does it cost SO much to have a professional come to fix them?

We had one guy come to take care of the potential ice dam area on our roof and it cost $185.00 per hour with a two hour minimum! I about fell off my chair but what can you do. I  shopped around and actually it was right in line with all the other companies.

So, the real answer is, understanding ice dams, and doing what you can to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

I found this site helpful:

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20557572,00.html

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

©2009 Owens Companies . 930 East 80th Street . Bloomington, Minnesota 55420 . Ph: 952.854.3800 . Fax: 952.854.3769
Click for the BBB Business Review of this Heating & Air Conditioning in Bloomington MN