Resolve to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient in 2020

tfobrien energy efficiencyIt’s that time of year again – when everyone starts thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. Many times, they revolve around weight loss and fitness, and sometimes achieving personal and professional goals. One resolution that can help both you and the planet in 2020 is to conserve energy. And it’s a resolution you can keep pretty much effortlessly, especially when you start at home.

There are many ways you can make your home a den of energy efficiency, and they’re a lot simpler than you might think. We’re sharing a list below of seven ways you can very easily start making you home more efficient today. The best part (aside from the money you can save on your utility bills)? Most of these solutions are set it and forget it! Just make a couple of simple changes and you’ll start saving energy right away and all year long.

Seven Easy Ways You Can Resolve to Save Energy This Year

  1. Change over to energy efficient lightbulbs. Change out your old, incandescent bulbs with halogen, compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. They offer much better energy efficiency AND they last much longer than their incandescent ancestors. (Most homes have 40 or more fixtures that require bulbs, so choosing energy efficient ones is sort of a big deal.)
  2. Lower your thermostat. We’re not saying you have to run around the house in long johns and a parka all winter long, but if you remember to lower your thermostat just 3-5 degrees before you leave the house, you can save energy. Want to save even more? Drop your thermostat 10 degrees or so during the workday and save up to 15% every year. If you have a programmable or smart thermostat, it’s even easier, because you can set it to change when you leave for work – or change it yourself right from your phone!
  3. Make sure windows and doors are sealed. Drafty windows and doors let the warm air out and the cold air in, which makes your heating system have to work even harder. And the reverse is true in the summer, letting your conditioned air out and the hot, sticky air in. So making sure any gaps or cracks around windows and doors are sealed is an inexpensive way to reduce energy usage, and ultimately costs.
  4. Not using it? Unplug it. Cell phone chargers, battery chargers and, small appliances like toasters and electric can openers can all be energy vampires when they’re not in use, sucking the energy right out of your outlets and costing you more money when it comes time to pay your utility bills. If it doesn’t need to stay plugged in to operate properly – unplug it, and potentially save 10% annually on your energy bills in the process.
  5. Wash with cold water whenever possible. Not yourself, unless you want to. We’re talking about your washing machine. Most detergents are available in cold water formulas that do a great job of getting your clothes fresh and clean. And did you know – 90 percent of the energy used by your washer is for heating water. So, washing in cold can save YOU cold, hard cash.
  6. Get an HVAC tune-up for your heating and air conditioning equipment. By getting your equipment tuned up on a yearly basis, you’ll also be helping it stay energy efficient. A qualified technician, like the ones right here at T.F. O’Brien, will make sure your heating and cooling equipment is running at top efficiency. Not to mention, a tune-up can help keep your system from breaking down prematurely, and as a result needing expensive repairs or replacement.
  7. When getting a new computer, switch to a laptop. Thinking about replacing your old desktop computer? When it comes time for new technology, consider getting a laptop. Why? They’re up to 80% more efficient than desktop models, and you can take them anywhere with you!

Want to learn more about making your home energy efficient? Call T.F. O’Brien.

At T.F. O’Brien, helping you enjoy the most energy efficient home comfort is important to us. We work hard to help you get the services and equipment you need to save energy, save money and save the planet! To learn more about energy-saving equipment and products, just give us a call at 516.488.1800 – and we’ll resolve to help you make your home more efficient in 2020 and beyond!

Check out our energy efficiency infographic below, and feel free to share it with your friends!

TFO WEB HomeEfficiency

 

Fuel-Free Heating Alternatives for 2020 – What Are My Options?

When it comes time to replace your home’s heating system, you should know you have options that are cleaner, more efficient, and don’t use gas or oil. These innovative systems actually extract the heat from the air or the ground, and bring it into your home. That way, you won’t need to worry about gas being piped in, or fuel oil deliveries. You and your family will just be able to enjoy year-round comfort.

Wait, year-round comfort? But I don’t need heating in the summer.

That’s just another benefit of installing a heat pump system. The beauty is, in the summer months your heat pump will actually cool your home. Just like they extract heat from the ambient air in the winter and pump it into your home, in the summer months, they can extract heat from your indoor air and pump it outside. So, heat pumps really are the complete package deal – one that can keep you comfortable and provide you with maximum energy efficiency.

But I’ve heard heat pumps don’t work well in cooler climates.

People in the south have been using heat pumps for their home comfort needs for years, but for us northerners, heat pump technology hasn’t been as accessible. That’s because up until a few years ago, heat pumps weren’t made to operate in the cooler weather like we get here on Long Island. But in recent years, advancements have been made that allow for cold climate heat pump technology, so now even those of us who experience all four seasons can enjoy the benefits that come with owning a heat pump system.

Okay, let’s talk more about the benefits.

Most people who own a heat pump system will tell you that the top benefit is energy savings, because that translates into savings on their utility bills. Heat pump systems are extremely efficient; in fact, they’re one of the most energy-efficient ways to heat and cool your home on the market today.

Additionally, they’re much better for the environment, because they don’t rely on any type of fossil fuel to work. While they do use refrigerant, it is an environmentally sound formula that does not harm the ozone layer. And, as we mentioned above, heat pump systems can keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, eliminating the need for separate heating and air conditioning systems.

I have baseboard heating in my home and no ductwork. How can a heat pump help me?

For homeowners that want to replace their heating and cooling, but don’t have ductwork, ductless systems are available. Using heat pump technology, a ductless system is comprised of single units installed in zones throughout your home, or in spaces that may not have access to existing ductwork. Because each zone can be controlled based on the heating and cooling needs of that specific space, most people find that ductless systems provide exemplary comfort and efficiency. While some are available for cooling only, there are systems that also provide heating, making them the perfect choice for year-round comfort.

Who can help me learn more about heat pump heating and cooling?

You’ve come to the right place! At T.F. O’Brien Cooling & Heating, we make it a priority to stay up-to-date on the latest in home comfort technology, so we can provide our customers with the very best and most efficient products. And, our expert technicians never stop learning, so they always provide you with highly skilled installation and service. To find out more, just give us a call at 516.488.1800, and we will be happy to help.

A Humidifier Will Keep Static Electricity From Getting Out of Hand

humidity guage-humidifier, Long Island, New YorkWe all know that the winter months in Long Island are notorious for creating an excessive amount of static electricity around the home, causing everything from unpleasant shocks to bad hair days. The reason for the static increase is related to a home’s heating system and the lack of a humidifier. Continue reading “A Humidifier Will Keep Static Electricity From Getting Out of Hand”

New York State’s 100% renewable energy by 2050 plan: what does it mean for homeowners?

Long Island-based HVAC expert talks electric heating efficiency, costs

This year, New York state announced an ambitious mandate to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050, and for 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy by 2030. While not the first state to implement such a plan – Hawaii, New Jersey and California already have, just to name a few – New York’s is the most aggressive yet in the United States.

Often when residents hear about a ground-breaking statewide initiative like this, the first question they ask is, “How will this affect me?” It is easy to assume the responsibility for such a large-scale plan will fall to big business owners and state government, but homeowners can contribute as well through the way they heat and cool their homes.

Renewable energy means a shift from oil and gas to strictly electric heating and cooling. So, homeowners who are used to powering their home systems with the former will have to make a shift to the latter in the somewhat near future.

Kerry O’Brien, co-owner and president of T.F. O’Brien Cooling and Heating in Long Island, explained that there is a knee-jerk reaction of fear when homeowners think about the costs associated with having to make the switch to electric.

“Long Island has some of the highest electric rates in the country, so that can be alarming,” O’Brien said. “However, once residents take a closer look at where their money is going, they realize it’s just a shift in where they’re putting it as opposed to an overall increase.”

For example, an oil delivery in Long Island can cost $800 or more. So, while a homeowner will see additional monthly charges to their electric bills once they make the shift, they will no longer be incurring multiple hefty oil delivery charges during the winter months.

“We see the highest volume of calls from people wanting to switch from oil to alternative fuels in January because it’s the coldest time of year and their oil bills are so high,” O’Brien said. “But once they switch to electric heat pumps, they say, ‘My electric bill went up!’ That’s because they’ve shifted where they’re spending their money.”

Misconceptions about the short-comings of electric heating technology have made homeowners hesitant to switch, but the efficiency of electric heating has improved dramatically over recent years.

“Twenty years ago, heat pumps were completely ineffective and inefficient for the northeast climate,” O’Brien said. “Nowadays, with significant advancements in technology, they are an effective and budget-friendly way to heat and cool homes, even in New York’s harsh winter weather.”

In fact, most heat pumps are capable of heating homes in temperatures as low as 5 degrees. There are also cold climate pumps capable of handling minus 15 temperatures. This makes it a great alternative to oil or gas heating, especially for homes without ductwork.

While 2050 and even 2030 may seem like a good distance away, New York homeowners can start helping now by requesting an estimate for switching to an electric heat pump system from local heat pump experts like T.F. O’Brien. Most companies can easily and quickly provide this information. Residents can help by making upgrades like this in the coming years as New York state moves toward meeting its ambitious 100 percent renewable energy initiative.

What Type of Heating System Is Best for My Home this Winter?

If you’ve decided that it’s time to replace the heating system in your home, you might have found yourself in a bit of a quandary. There are so many different types of heating systems on the market today, it can be confusing to know which is the best for your home and lifestyle. You want to make sure you get a heating system that not only keeps you and your family comfortable, but is also energy-efficient and durable. So, what should you do when it comes time for a new heating installation? Research!

Yes, it’s always a good idea to look into the different types of systems before calling your HVAC dealer in for help. Understanding the various kinds of heating systems that are available can facilitate the conversation with your HVAC installer, and help ensure that you get just the right product for your home. At T.F. O’Brien, we think our customers should make the best decision possible when it comes to home heating, which is why we provide you with the information you need.

Learn more about the types of heating systems available from T.F. O’Brien.

At T.F. O’Brien, we proudly offer a wide range of heating equipment from quality, reputable manufacturers. And, our technicians are expert craftspeople who have received the proper training to install your equipment. As a full-service heating contractor, we can provide you with service after the sale, too – you can count on us to maintain and repair your equipment professionally as well. We’re pleased to provide our customers with the following types of heating systems:

  • Furnaces – Generally, there are two types of furnaces available to heat your home. Oil furnaces use fuel oil, and gas furnaces use natural gas. Gas furnaces tend to be more efficient that oil furnaces. Most people in the Northeast heat their homes with either a furnace or boiler, although other systems are becoming more prevalent as technologies improve.
  • Boilers – Like furnaces, boilers generally use gas or oil to operate. If you rely on radiant heat for your home, then you use a boiler. Today’s boilers are built to be much more energy efficient than their predecessors, often reaching rates of 95% efficiency or more.
  • Heat Pumps – Heat pump technology has improved greatly, making it a viable option for heating even in colder climates. Not to mention, heat pumps are one of the most energy-efficient heating options available, and they don’t use fossil fuels to operate. Instead, they work by extracting the heat from the ground or outside air, and pumping it into your home.
  • Ductless Heating – Ductless heating uses heat pump technology to operate, so again, it’s a very efficient choice for heating your home. Another benefit to ductless is that it provides targeted comfort, so you can create heating zones in your home – and that helps increase efficiency even more. Ductless is a great option if your home doesn’t have ductwork and you wish to upgrade your baseboard or radiant heating system.
  • High Velocity Heating – High velocity heating uses small diameter ductwork to bring heat and comfort in older, multi-story homes where larger diameter ductwork may be space-prohibitive. It uses a type of indoor equipment known as an air handler, outdoor equipment, a line set of pipes that connect the indoor and outdoor units, and small-diameter ductwork which transfers the heated air throughout your home. A standard thermostat controls the system.

When you need help with your home heating, call T.F. O’Brien.

Getting the heating products you need to stay warm and toasty all winter long is as easy as giving us a call. We can help meet any heating need you may have, from installation of new equipment to maintenance and repair. Just give us a call at 516.488.1800 and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Have An Attitude of Gratitude? Here Are 9 Things Only Long Islanders Would Be Thankful For.

When Thanksgiving rolls around, most of us take some time to think about what we’re truly thankful for. Of course, friends and family top that list, as well as the wonderful Thanksgiving feast that’s been lovingly prepared for us. As Long Islanders, though, we have some other wonderful things to be thankful for. We live on a beautiful island, where we can easily enjoy summers in the sun and on the beach. We’re close enough to the city that we can catch a show on Broadway or do some shopping at Macy’s. But there are a few things that only Long Islanders get to be thankful for – and we’re sharing them with you!

9 Things Only Long Islanders Would Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

When you and your family sit down to enjoy the turkey and stuffing this year, count your blessings as a Long Islander and make sure you give thanks for the following!

  1. A LIRR schedule that’s on time. The Long Island Rail Road isn’t always (or even often) on time, but when it is, every Long Islander should be thankful!
  2. No traffic on the LIE. Is the Long Island Expressway ever free of traffic? Well, not entirely, but we can always be grateful for those days when it’s at a dull roar.
  3. Telling someone you’re from New York, and not having them think the city. Like our Upstate friends, most of the time if you say you’re from New York, people think you mean the city. How would we all fit there, people? We’re always grateful when people recognize that we might live elsewhere.
  4. 24/7 diners. Feel like grabbing a burger at 3 a.m.? We have some great all-night diners here on Long Island that make those late-night food runs easy as pie.
  5. The Islanders moving back to the Coliseum. We love our hockey here on Long Island, and our Islanders. And, we love to watch them play at the Coliseum, for sure!
  6. Billy Joel. A native son, we couldn’t be prouder of our very own Piano Man and all of his success. He’s never forgotten his roots, which we appreciate!
  7. When people say “on Long Island” versus “in Long Island.” We live ON an island, where we’re perfectly mobile. We’re not planted here, nor do we live in burrows.
  8. Jones Beach concerts. You can’t beat the amazing entertainers and shows at Jones Beach! Doobie Brothers, Black Crowes and Journey are all on the docket for Summer 2020!
  9. When people recognize that Long Island wineries are as great as the Finger Lakes wineries. We make some pretty incredible wines right here on Long Island, where Merlot is king. Enjoy a wine tour, and check out this list of must-visit wineries. Salut!

At T.F. O’Brien, we also give thanks for you.

When we sit around our holiday table and count our blessings, our customers are always among those we give thanks for. We appreciate the support you’ve shown us for more than 85 years. We are grateful for you – thank you! And remember, if you have any home comfort need, simply give us a call at 516.488.1800 and we will be happy to assist you.

Preparing Your Home for a Long Island Winter

home_maintenance_longislandWhether we like it or not, winter is on its way here on Long Island. That means the days have grown shorter, the temperatures chillier, and everyone’s thoughts have turned to the holiday season. Is your home ready for the cooler weather ahead? It will be, if you check out these great tips to help you get ready for Old Man Winter’s inevitable arrival.

According to an article in Newsday, there are five important measures you can take in preparation for those icy days ahead. The best thing? By following these tips, you and your family will not only enjoy greater comfort, but you’ll also likely save some money in the long run – and who couldn’t use a bit more cash during the holidays? Below, learn more about getting your home ready – inside and out.

Five Ways to Get Your Long Island Home Winter-Ready

  1. Get service for your heating system. No matter what type you have – furnace, boiler or heat pump – making sure it’s been properly serviced before the winter months hit is important. Your HVAC technician will know the correct measures that need to be taken to ensure your system runs smoothly no matter how cold it gets outside. One thing you can easily do throughout the winter, though, is make sure the filter is changed regularly on your forced-air system. A dirty filter not only makes your home dusty and dirty, but it can also decrease the effectiveness and efficiency of your equipment.
  2. Insulate your plumbing. Do you have an unheated attic or basement? Your pipes in those areas will need to be insulated to ensure they don’t freeze. Wind chill also plays a role in pipes freezing, and as we well know, the wind chill can dip quite a ways down here on Long Island. One way to help prevent freezing pipes in extreme temperatures is by allowing a faucet to drip a bit. Never try to thaw out popes on your own using a flame or torch, or even a blow dryer. This can cause a fire hazard. If you suspect your pipes have frozen, call a plumbing specialist.
  3. Add weatherstripping to doors and windows. Often, cold air leaks into your house via small gaps in doors and windows. Unfortunately, those small leaks can add up when it comes time for your utility bills. Adding some weatherstripping or caulk to these areas can help you keep cold air out, warm air in, and money in your pocket.
  4. Call in your chimney sweep. If you have a fireplace in your home, it’s imperative that you get it cleaned and inspected before the first fire of the season. The residue from fires past can build up in the flue, becoming more flammable over time. And that can be very dangerous – resulting in a chimney fire in your home. So you definitely don’t want to neglect this very important pre-winter maintenance task.
  5. Take measures to keep the pests at bay. All sorts of outdoor creatures want to move on in when the weather outside takes a dip into the lower digits. Of course, mice and squirrels are fairly common house-crashers, but raccoons, possums, rats, bats and birds can take up residence in your home too. Make sure all the doors in your home have been secured, and seal up small openings into your home (those where lines for AC, plumbing, gas, etc. run) using caulk. And, if you have food for outdoor birds, store it in an airtight, metal container.

When you need heating maintenance for the winter ahead, call T.F. O’Brien.

At T.F. O’Brien, we’re ready to help you with your home heating maintenance needs. We’re always more than happy to get our customers’ heating systems ready for the winter ahead. All you need to do is give us a call at 516.488.1800 to schedule an appointment with us today.

Talking Turkey About HVAC Repair – What You Need to Know

heating_repair_toolsIf your heating system isn’t doing its job the way it used to, you might be thinking about repairs and the costs associated with them. Depending on how extensive the need, repairs can be simple and fairly inexpensive – or extensive and quite costly. Many times, though, people aren’t sure whether fixing the system is a better choice than replacing. There are a few factors that can help you make the decision. In an article on Money.com, repair versus replacement is discussed.

There are a few questions you might want to ask yourself when considering repair versus replacement.

Nobody really wants to think about the costs of repairing or replacing a heating system, especially around holiday time. But if you’re faced with deciding about this expense, it’s important to take a few different factors into consideration.

  • Has your system broken down frequently and needed costly repairs? If yes, then you’re probably in a place where you really need to consider a new installation. This is especially true if you have an older furnace that’s no longer under warranty. The good news is, today’s furnaces are far more energy efficient than their predecessors, so chances are in the long run, you’ll actually be saving money.
  • Have you regularly had your heating system serviced? If the answer to that is no, then there’s no better time than the present to call a reputable HVAC dealer and get maintenance scheduled. Sometimes, a system can operate less effectively and efficiently simply because it’s dirty. And, annual maintenance helps ensure your system gets any minor repairs it may need – before they become larger, and much more expensive, problems.
  • Have you considered any ductwork issues? If you have a forced-air heating system – one that relies on ductwork to deliver warmed air throughout your home – then it’s always a good idea to have your ducts checked before determining that your heating system is the problem. Dirty, blocked ductwork can cause major problems with system efficiency – and indoor air quality.
  • How’s your home insulation? If you don’t have proper insulation in your home, no heating system, high-efficiency or not, is going to be as effective as it can be. Sometimes getting better insulation for your home can result in much better efficiency – up to 25 percent if you currently have poor insulation in your home. Another benefit to ensuring your home is properly insulated is that, when the time comes to replace your heating system, you can often choose a smaller sized (and therefore less expensive) system.

Let T.F. O’Brien help you with your heating repair or replacement needs.

At T.F. O’Brien, we’re experts when it comes to your home comfort, and our goal is to always keep you and your family comfortable as efficiently as possible. We’re always more than happy to get our customers’ heating systems ready for the winter ahead, whether you need maintenance, repair or replacement. All you need to do is give us a call at 516.488.1800 to schedule an appointment with us today.

Getting the Home Heating You Need – A Buying Guide

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Is it time to replace the heating system in your home? It can be a daunting task. You’re making an expensive purchase, but a necessary one. It’s important that you choose the right system for your home, lifestyle, and of course, budget. With many options available, as well as several different brands, it can be difficult to know if you’re choosing the best system for your needs.

The first step in purchasing home heating equipment? Do your research.

The internet provides you with a wealth of information on different types of equipment and brands. But sometimes, that much information can get overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re choosing the right sources of information on heating equipment.

Here are a few credible, helpful sources to get you started:

The Department of Energy

If anybody knows their stuff, it’s the most official research in the U.S.! The Department of Energy has great stats and data to help you make the most out of your heating system this year.

Energy Star

According to their own words, “Energy Star is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.”

Angie’s List

Angie’s List, an online review-collecting service, has an extremely detailed breakdown of different systems that will help you narrow down what’s best for your home.

Smarter House

Smarter House is a resource for home energy efficiency, and they provide a useful overview of home heating systems.

The Spruce

A reliable source for home tips, The Spruce has an awesome guide to all different kinds of home heating systems that is ideal for someone who needs an easily digestible snapshot of each.

Some things to consider while you’re looking…

Sizing is important.

This is where your HVAC professional comes in. They know how to analyze your home’s space and energy needs in order to install the properly sized equipment. Too small a furnace, and your home won’t get adequately heated, especially during an extreme cold snap. Conversely, if your furnace is too large, it cycles on and off too often, wasting energy and putting wear and tear on components. A qualified HVAC technician can help you get the right size for your home.

Look at energy efficiency.

If your heating system is more than 10 years old, it’s likely that it isn’t as energy efficient as you’d like. Advances have been made in recent years on heating equipment, and today’s furnaces and boilers offer much higher efficiency than their predecessors. Not to mention, heat pumps and ductless systems are becoming more popular. Both of these systems offer incredible energy efficiency and effective heating as well.

Choose a reputable installer.

One of the most important things you can do when looking into home heating replacement is to find an installer with a reputation for excellence. You’ll want to see what organizations they’re involved with, such as North American Technician Excellence, or NATE. Research them to ensure they provide ongoing training to their technicians, and keep them up-to-date on the latest technologies. And, you’ll want to check out their Better Business Bureau profiles, as well as online reviews. The greater your comfort level with your installer, the more likely the project will go smoothly and you’ll get just the right system for your home.

Learn more about the types of heating systems available.

    • Furnaces – Generally, there are two types of furnaces available to heat your home. Oil furnaces use fuel oil, and gas furnaces use natural gas. Gas furnaces tend to be more efficient that oil furnaces. Most people in the Northeast heat their homes with either a furnace or boiler, although other systems are becoming more prevalent as technologies improve.
    • Boilers – Like furnaces, boilers generally use gas or oil to operate. If you rely on radiant heat for your home, then you use a boiler. Today’s boilers are built to be much more energy efficient than their predecessors, often reaching rates of 95% efficiency or more.
    • Heat Pumps – Heat pump technology has improved greatly, making it a viable option for heating even in colder climates. Not to mention, heat pumps are one of the most energy-efficient heating options available, and they don’t use fossil fuels to operate. Instead, they work by extracting the heat from the ground or outside air, and pumping it into your home.
    • Ductless Heating – Ductless heating uses heat pump technology to operate, so again, it’s a very efficient choice for heating your home. Another benefit to ductless is that it provides targeted comfort, so you can create heating zones in your home – and that helps increase efficiency even more. Ductless is a great option if your home doesn’t have ductwork and you wish to upgrade your baseboard or radiant heating system.
    • High Velocity Heating – High velocity heating uses small diameter ductwork to bring heat and comfort in older, multi-story homes where larger diameter ductwork may be space-prohibitive. It uses a type of indoor equipment known as an air handler, outdoor equipment, a line set of pipes that connect the indoor and outdoor units, and small-diameter ductwork which transfers the heated air throughout your home. A standard thermostat controls the system.

Take the next step in getting the heating system you need for your home this winter.

T.F. O’Brien works with you, your home and your budget to provide you with the best, most efficient heating system possible. Click below to contact us today!

 

And, you can download a copy of our buyer’s guide below

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Don’t Miss Our Technician Hiring Event

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Looking for an HVAC job?

Join us for our Technician Hiring Event on Tuesday, October 29 from 5-8PM at our 100 Denton Ave., Hyde Park location to find out how we can help advance your HVAC career! Bring your resume and see why T.F. O’Brien Heating and Cooling is an excellent HVAC employment opportunity with full benefits, robust training, and continued education opportunities.