Home Comfort and Commercial Services

Never a dull moment on our block

Well, it’s summer. Not only is it instantly hot, with thunderstorm activity, soccer games, t-ball and the like and kids playing hockey in the street, bikers and running clubs are happy to be getting back to their summer fitness selves.

Our street is filled with trucks and workers and it seems that everyone has a ‘project’ or 2 or 3! OK, so I am doing my garden, and plan to get a couple of windows fixed. But really, it’s a frenzy of activity. It’s a race of time because we all know what looms ahead…..It does seem out of control, and it would be nice if the landscapers could coordinate those blowers!

The hope now is that it’s easier get to deferred maintenance issues. So let’s talk about cooling systems, air conditioners. We have  signed  a preferred customer agreement, so I just wait for Owens technicians to come and service our air conditioner. Let me brag, we have the very same AC unit as when we moved in, which was 22 years ago. I  know I have to thank the Owens guys with keeping this old machine going!

Each year, when they come over, I get that look, “really susie, it is time for you to at least look into a newer unit.” But I’m old fashioned. My car is a 2001, 148,000 miles on it. I say drive her till she dies. I can’t just trade her in! TOO many fond memories!

Call us and become a Preferred Customer today! 952-854-3800

 

 

 

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Too early to plant your Garden?

I hear, to be safe, in Minnesota we are suppose to wait until the 15th of May until we can seriously PLANT our gardens. Some people say wait until Memorial Day to be safe. Well, I cannot wait!  After this past winter, I need flowers, fresh vegetables, and beautiful scents smiling back at me!

A good friend of mine owns a landscaping company, Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens, so I just call her. She said the ground has to be at least 50 degrees. She gave me permission to have at it! We can always cover those more fragile plants with sheets if it decides to be cold again!

For those of you who like to do a little more research, and want more information, here is a pretty helpful site;

http://www.todayshomeowner.com/how-to-measure-soil-temperature-for-planting/

So how does this work into Heating/Air conditioning/Home Comfort? In our house, since I am in charge…..As soon as it gets to be about 58 degrees outside, I turn our thermostat off.  Actually, on May Day, I’m over winter, over my furnace, and I just push through it! I think it makes summer come faster! Of course my family complains, but they can wear sweatshirts! It’s what I do to try and save money, save energy and help the environment, and just as important, save my sanity.

My goal for this summer is to find more ways we can help you save on energy, reduce the cost of cooling your homes, and any other tips that I can find to help with home comfort.

So Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

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Wireless Thermostats to Quadruple by 2017

Baby Boomers…..Don’t get left behind in the technology boon! It’s easy to be intimidated. How many remote controls do you need for the operation of ONE of your flatscreens? Are you always calling for your kids to help?

Well, it’s a new world, and soon all of our home electronics will be controlled by our smart phones, or tablets. So, first things first….learn how to use a smart phone or tablet!

According to research all over the world, we can expect more than 10 million smart, home connected appliances by 2017. (Juniper Research, http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelwolf/2013/08/28/smart-home-services-to-reach-10-9-billion-in-2017/

The ability to remotely adjust the temperature and comfort settings are giving consumers the control, freedom, and flexibility that this new generation has become accustomed to. Imagine being on vacation, only to remember you forgot to adjust your home thermostat for ‘vacation status’?  Worry no more, from your smart phone, or tablet, you’re good to go. You can control your home comfort systems from wherever you are.

So take the plunge, and don’t be left behind. It might be fun! You might even save money and energy in the process.

 

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Earth Day

April 22, 1970, the first earth day. I was in 9th grade. I remember riding my bike about 20 miles to participate in all day festivities at the University of Minnesota. I wonder how we’re doing? Have we passed a strong enough message to our children? I often think there is too much distraction for them to really grasp hold of how important taking care of our earth is.

We moved here 20 years ago from New Mexico, where there is always a drought. I am still stunned in my neighborhood when I see the sprinklers running for hours, at all times during the night or day! Often, the sidewalks are getting most of it!

Here is a site I found helpful in keeping my water IQ current!

http://www.wikihow.com/Water-Your-Lawn-Efficiently

So as it is Earth Day today, it’s not too early to think of what we can do, just one thing, to be kinder to our environment.

Changing behaviors, whether it’s by turning off lights that aren’t being used, not heating or cooling empty spaces, and unplugging energy-wasting equipment, can make a huge impact when it’s done regularly and becomes a lifestyle. Change a dirty A/C filter more often, (and recycle it) purchase a smart thermostat, (and use it correctly). Drinking water is really important, but do we need to purchase those plastic water bottles? There are a lot of little things we can all do that will make a difference.

There are also ideas you can implement at work! Invite ideas, get the people involved. Recycle everything. You get the gist!

Another helpful site to give you home and work ideas.

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_improvement.hpwes_for_homeowners

 

 

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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!

 

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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

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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!

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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/ 

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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!

 

 

 

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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 

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