The Fashion of Wearing White and Labor Day

September 1st, 2014

You may have heard about the fashion faux pas of wearing white after Labor Day. In the present, this tradition is usually treated as old fashioned and a joke. Few people will criticize you for wearing white articles of clothing after the first Monday in September, or even take notice of it except to wonder why it was ever a major concern at all.

Where did this tradition of white clothing going out of fashion after Labor Day come from, and why did it fade away like colorful fabric washed in a hot load in the washing machine?

In general, white makes sense for the heat of summer. Light-colored clothing reflects away the radiant heat of the sun, instead of absorbing it the way dark colors do, so for thousands of years of human history people have preferred to wear white clothing during the hotter months.

However, the idea of white as strictly fashionable during the summer season only emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the time when the very concept of “fashion” began to spread across the Western Hemisphere.

It was only the highest level of post-Civil War society in the U.S. that strict and often bizarre rules for fashion controlled whether someone was in with the “in” crowd. Compared to our ideas of what’s fashionable today, the Czars of Style in the 1880s were true despots. Things as trivial as sleeve length could determine whether a woman in high society—no matter her level of wealth—was fashionable or a pariah.

Wearing white during the only summer, when it was common for weddings and outdoor parties, was only of these restrictive society rules. When the U.S. government made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, the Fashion Czars gained a definite cut-off point for when wearing white was no longer “acceptable” in the upper echelons of wealthy society.

For many decades, this rule only applied to a small number of millionaire socialites in a few big cities, but in the 1950s it reached general fashion magazines that were read around the country and started to affect more people.

But time eventually broke apart this odd rule, and during the 1970s fashion became more individual. Some fashion legends, like Coco Chanel, also purposely rejected the restriction and wore white throughout the year. Today, the “no white after Labor Day rule” is little more than an amusing gag to tease friends, and almost nobody takes it seriously.

Whatever you choose to wear after Labor Day (and if it’s white, we won’t tease!), everyone here at Boehmer Heating & Cooling hopes you have a happy end of the summer and great plans for the fall!

How Technicians Determine the Size of Your New AC

August 20th, 2014

In order for an air conditioner to work well for a home, it must be properly sized for the home. The installers need to determine how large a cooling load a new air conditioning system must produce in order to keep the home at the temperature that the homeowner wants for comfort.

Sizing is a complicated process. It’s easy for an amateur to assume that the more powerful an AC, the better it will cool a house. However, an oversized air conditioner can be a major a problem as an undersized one: it will lower the temperature so rapidly that it will shut off the cooling cycle before completing it, only to turn back on a short time later, and continue to repeat the process. This is called “short-cycling,” and it leads to wasted energy and a shortened lifespan for the system.

For your air conditioning installation in Brentwood, PA, call on Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We’ve helped keep homes comfortable in the Greater Pittsburgh Area since 1933.

How Sizing is Done for an AC

The way that technicians find out the cooling load (in tons) an air conditioner needs to supply to both keep a house cool and not to short-cycle, they perform a heat load calculation. This complex calculation collects data about the house to determine how well it traps heat and keeps heat outside. The more heat that stays inside a home, the more powerful an AC is needed to combat it.

The basic part of the heat load calculation is the volume of the house; square footage along is enough to determine how much space the AC must cool down. The technicians then analyze other parts of the home to see where heat is entering and where it is being generated.

Heat can enter a home through poor insulation, especially in the attic, so the technicians look over the insulation in the walls and ceilings. They also factor in the number of windows and the directions they face to see where radiant heat is entering the house.

Technicians look over the number of heat generating appliances in the house and how often they run: washing machine, laundry machine, oven, entertainment center, lights, etc. The number of people regularly in the home also affects how much heat is inside it.

Once the technicians have gathered all the pertinent data (and there’s even more than we’ve listed here), they can plug it into the calculation and return with the amount of cooling load necessary to keep the home comfortable.

The heat load calculation is one of the many reasons to rely on professionals for your air conditioning installation in Brentwood, PA. The only way to receive the right AC working at its best is to leave the job to the experts. Call on the experienced team at Boehmer Heating & Cooling the next time you need a new AC sized and installed.

What Does the SEER Number Mean for My Air Conditioner?

August 13th, 2014

Just as a car has the miles per gallon rating (mpg) to assess how well it uses its energy source (gasoline, in this case), so, too, does an air conditioning system. This rating is called SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) and it tells you how efficient a specific air conditioning system in Brentwood will be. Understanding what SEER means for your air conditioner is important when installing a new or replacement AC, so our Boehmer Heating & Cooling technicians have taken some time to explain this below.

What Is SEER?

As mentioned above, SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, and it is a number placed on all air conditioning systems. SEER is rated on a scale of 1 to 23; energy efficiency improves with each higher point.

Today’s air conditioners have to be manufactured with a minimum SEER of 13, a law that went into effect in 2006; prior to this the minimum required SEER was 10.

What Is the Importance of SEER?

SEER isn’t just a number; it tells you how much energy your air conditioner will use to cool your home. According to Energystar.gov, each point higher on the SEER scale equates to an approximate savings of 10% on your annual air conditioning costs. As an example, let’s say an AC with a SEER of 16 will cost you $300 for the year; the same model with a SEER of 21 would cost you $150. By comparing SEER numbers, you can estimate the annual cost of your air conditioning and how much you can potentially save with each SEER number.

How Is SEER Calculated?

SEER is calculated by measuring the amount of cool air an air conditioner expels for every unit of energy it consumes to do so.

Benefits of an Energy Efficient AC

The clear benefit of an energy efficient air conditioner is the savings you can achieve in monthly utility bills. If you have seen your energy bills rise due to an aging or seriously malfunctioning system, it may be time to think about replacement.

The second benefit of purchasing an energy efficient system is the benefit to the environment. Less energy means a smaller carbon footprint and less greenhouse gases for the planet.

Have questions about what SEER means to you? Call Boehmer Heating & Cooling today and schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

Is It Too Late for Air Conditioning Maintenance?

August 6th, 2014

A great time to schedule air conditioning maintenance is in the spring or early summer to protect your air conditioner during the cooling season. But when it’s the middle of summer and you still haven’t called a professional AC company for maintenance, is it too late?

Air conditioning maintenance is an important service for homeowners who want to lower energy bills and prevent the need for repairs. During maintenance, a technician cleans various components of your AC system, such as the condenser and evaporator coils. Dirty components may interfere with the heat exchange process that is needed to cool the air. The technician also adjusts any loose or bent parts and lets you know about any parts that may need repair sometime in the near future. This service is essential if you want to see the following benefits with your air conditioner.

The Benefits of Air Conditioning Maintenance

  • Energy Efficiency: Air conditioning maintenance can restore a large percentage of efficiency to your unit. When an important part of the system needs to be cleaned or adjusted, your air conditioner must run for long periods of time to compensate. This can hike up energy bills significantly, but maintenance can help you manage costs for the remainder of the summer.
  • Reduce the Need for Repairs: At this time of year, air conditioners work extra hard to keep you cool. This adds wear and tear to your system, which means you may need repairs before the end of the season. With air conditioning maintenance, a technician often catches repair needs early on so that you can address them before a serious problem arises that could leave you without air conditioning when you need it most.
  • Increased Lifespan: No air conditioner can last forever, but you may actually increase the lifespan of your air conditioner with a yearly maintenance call. Damage is caught early on, so that your AC won’t fail prematurely.

Our technicians offer professional maintenance on a variety of air conditioning systems, no matter what the time of year. When you decide it’s the right time for air conditioning maintenance in Baldwin, call the experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling. Call us today to schedule an AC maintenance with us.

What Does Our Home Energy Solutions Involve?

July 30th, 2014

Think of your house as a large energy system, where each smaller system—such as the heater, air conditioner, ventilation, lighting, insulation, washer, dryer, refrigeration—form individual components.

Now…how efficient a system is your house? Is it losing excess energy and costing you money? What repairs can be done to this system to increase its energy efficiency?

Answering these three questions is the purpose of a home energy audit. At Boehmer Heating & Cooling, we are partnered with GreenHomes America to provide home energy solutions that evaluate energy efficiency and locate where homeowners can improve them to save money and better protect their health and the quality of their homes. Contact our team today to find out more about our home energy solutions and arrange for an energy audit in North Hills, PA.

What Actually Happens During an Energy Audit

An audit will not take up too much of your time or disrupt regular routines; the auditors will usually complete the job in approximately two hours.

After the auditors arrive at your home, they run a series of tests to find places where your home is losing energy. One of the key tests is to use a blower door, which fits over the aperture of your front door, to lower the pressure inside the house. This will cause outside air to infiltrate the home through any available air leaks, and the auditors can locate these spots using smoke pencils. This will show where your home has insufficient insulation and places that will create drafts in cold weather and permit heat to enter during hot weather.

The auditors will perform an infrared scan that will pinpoint spaces within your house, such as leaks in ductwork, that waste energy. The scan will also pick up moisture issues that could be causing damage to building material and raising indoor humidity.

A large part of the audit consists of the technicians doing visual checks on all the important household systems, such as looking over attic insulation, the air conditioner, furnace/boiler, hot water heater, and large appliances like refrigerators and washing machine.

A check over your utility bills will spot places where you can maximize your energy use, as well as identify where poorly operating equipment is causing an unnecessary rise in costs.

The end result of the audit is a report that details what the auditors have discovered, and what steps you can take to reduce the energy waste and consumption in your home, as well as anything that can improve indoor air quality or prevent damage from moisture. You make the choices about which improvements you want.

At Boehmer Heating & Cooling, we offer a comprehensive four-step home energy audit that will move you through the testing stage through the improvements that will help you live more economically and comfortably. Call our certified auditors today and schedule your energy audit in North Hills, PA.

Can I Wait for Air Conditioning Replacement?

July 23rd, 2014

Replacing an air conditioner is a big decision, and shouldn’t be rushed into. But at the height of summer, it can be difficult to overcome the daily heat and humidity with an aging system. When faced with the question to replace now or later, one of the best choices you can make is to consult with a professional. Boehmer Heating & Cooling has helped Baldwin residents with their cooling needs for over 80 years. Below are some questions that may help with your decision about when to replace your current AC:

  • How often do you need repairs?

Have you found yourself calling frequently for  air conditioning repair work over the last 2 years? At some point, the inconvenience and cost of multiple, frequent repairs may indicate you’d be better off with a new system.

  • How well is your current system cooling?

One of the telltale signs that an aging air conditioner is ready for replacement is an inability to cool your home. Whether you are experiencing uneven cooling, or your system struggles to reach the set temperature, if you aren’t getting the cooling you need, your indoor comfort is compromised.

  • How old is your system?

The average lifespan of an air conditioner is about 12 years, but if your system is 8 years old or older, you may be missing out on savings in the form of energy efficiency. This is because in 2006, federal regulations changed, requiring that all air conditioners be manufactured with a minimum SEER of 13; the previous law mandated it be 10.

  • How efficient is your system?

Even if your AC meets the minimum SEER regulation, an older system can still have problems being energy efficient. The best way to asses this is to review your monthly energy costs with a specialist.

Work With a Professional

If the answers to the questions above have pointed you in the direction of needing replacement for your AC sooner rather than later, the best way to ensure you install an air conditioning system that fits your home is to work with an AC installation expert. Many factors go into determining what air conditioner will work best for you, and some of these factors can be complex or even overlooked.

Since 1933, Boehmer Heating and Cooling experts have helped Baldwin customers with their cooling needs. Call us today and schedule an appointment.

Principles Behind UV Germicidal Lights

July 15th, 2014

To combat some of the more serious problems that can affect your air ducts—bacteria, viruses, mold—you can use the power of UV germicidal lights. Normal cleaning and filtering methods will not effect most biological growths, but professional installation of UV lamps can clear out almost all these contaminants and provide you with healthier air.

If you think you have issues with microbacteria or mold growth inside your ventilation system, contact Boehmer Heating & Cooling today and talk to our indoor air quality specialists. They will help with setting up UV germicidal lights for your ventilation system that will protect you and your family from the dangers of biological pollutants.

How Do These Lights Help Clean My Home’s Air?

The principle behind UV germicidal lamps is that ultraviolet light sent out at short wavelengths is lethal to microorganisms. Any type of UV radiation is potentially damaging to organic material (this is why you are supposed to wear sunblock when exposed to the sun’s rays for long periods) but the specifics of ultraviolent germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is to target microorganisms and strip away their nuclei to disrupt their DNA. When this occurs, microorganisms cannot perform basic cellular functions and die. The radiation also prevents the organisms from spreading.

The man who discovered that UV lamps could be effective at stopping bacteria and viruses was Nils Finsen, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1903 for his pioneering work in combating skin tuberculosis using ultraviolet light. UV lamps soon became a standard part of sterilization in hospitals and later moved into food service. Now these lights can be installed inside your ductwork to kill bacteria that passes through the air after going through filtration, cleaning the air that enters your home without leaving any chemical residue. And even though UV radiation can pose a threat to human tissue, with proper professional installation of these lights in your ventilation system you will experience minimal exposure and should never encounter any health risks.

Keep in mind that UV germicidal lights only affect organic material. To eliminate dust and dirt and other non-organic particles that can contaminate indoor air, you must also have a filtration system, mechanical or electronic, installed in your ductwork.

Installing UV germicidal lights in Brentwood, PA may be the optimal solution to problems with your indoor air quality. Should you notice an increase in asthma- and allergy-like symptoms in your home, call for air quality experts to examine your ducts and determine if you will benefit from the sterilizing power of UV lamps. Boehmer Heating & Cooling has experts ready to assist you with finding the best solutions for cleaning your home’s air. Call us today to schedule your next service appointment.

How Can I Save Money on Air Conditioning?

July 10th, 2014

Running your air conditioning in Baldwin, PA can get expensive, but this summer you may be able to cut costs significantly with a few energy saving tips and by considering investing in energy-efficient solutions for your home.

To start saving money on air conditioning today, try some of the following tips:

  • Set a programmable thermostat: There’s no point in running the AC at full blast when no one is home. Today’s digital thermostats have many features to help you increase efficiency. If you enjoy coming home to a cool house, set the thermostat to come on thirty minutes before you arrive. You can also set your thermostat to automatically switch to lower and higher temperatures at warmer and cooler times of the day.
  • Clean or replace air filters: By inhibiting proper airflow and forcing your AC system to work harder than it needs to, dirty air filters not only reduce indoor air quality, but also energy efficiency. Replacing filters on a regular basis or washing reusable ones can help you save every month.
  • Turn on fans: Ceiling and room fans help circulate the air, distributing it evenly throughout your home. Your skin tends to feel cooler with moving air, so you’ll likely be able to lower the temperature and save energy. Open all bedroom doors for increased circulation, and open windows at night to cut down on cooling costs.
  • Regular maintenance: If you schedule regular maintenance by an HVAC professional, your system is far more likely to remain energy efficient than without it. During a maintenance visit, a technician checks for any issues that may inhibit efficiency, cleans AC components, and adjusts refrigerant levels. Air conditioners that are regularly maintained are less likely to need unexpected repairs.
  • Invest in energy-saving solutions: If you have an older system, you may consider buying a new energy-efficient AC unit. This isn’t always necessary though; you can also have a professional add insulation to the outside of ducts to prevent the loss of cool air that often escapes through the ductwork of your home and costs you money.

For energy-saving solutions for your air conditioning in Baldwin, PA, call the AC experts at Boehmer Heating & Cooling. We offer quality air conditioning services from installation and replacement to repair and maintenance.

The Famous Painting of the Declaration of Independence Isn’t What You Think It Is

July 4th, 2014

If you grew up in the United States, you probably first saw John Trumbull’s painting of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence in an elementary schoolbook. This oil-on-canvas 12’ x 18’ painting hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most famous symbols of freedom in the country and almost every citizen can conjure it from memory.

Except… the painting isn’t of the singing of the Declaration of Independence. The actual title of the work is Declaration of Independence, and although it does portray an important moment in the history of the document that announced the Thirteen Colonies’ decision to break away from British rule, the event in the painting occurred on June 28, 1776, not July 4, 1776.

John Trumbull, a Connecticut native who fought in the Revolutionary War and whose father was the state governor, was commissioned to create the painting in 1817. He did painstaking research on the figures in the picture and also visited Independence Hall to see the actual chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. Trumbull only included 42 of the original 56 signers, because he could not find adequate likenesses for 14 or them, and added a few figures who were not present (most of whom declined to sign the actual document). In fact, the men depicted in the painting had never been present in the same room at one time.

So if the painting does not portray the signing of the Declaration of Independence, what is happening in the image? The Trumbull’s scene depicts the presentation of the draft of the declaration to the Continental Congress for editing and approval. The five-man drafting committee (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin) is handing over their finished work, which congress would then edit carefully over the next few days before voting on it and signing it on the day that we now celebrate as the start of the United States of America.

One last, odd, fact: two of the five-man drafting committee, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on July 4th—although many years later.

Our family at Boehmer Heating & Cooling hopes that your Fourth of July (or Twenty-Eighth of June if you decided to start celebrating early) is a memorable and happy one.

How Air Purifiers Give You Better Indoor Air Quality

June 27th, 2014

When it comes to improving the quality of a home’s indoor air, you have numerous options available: filters, cleaners, UV lights, humidifiers, and repair and cleaning services for your ductwork. One of the most effective ways to cleanse your air and eliminate the majority of pollutants that can lead to health issues is through an electronic air purifier. Working in conjunction with a HEPA filter, an air purifier can reduce the contamination in your indoor air to almost nothing.

Installing an air purifier in Baldwin, PA requires professionals to find the right model and size for you and fit it into your HVAC system correctly. You’ll find this kind of qualified work at Boehmer Heating & Cooling. Call us today to learn more about the choices you have for improving your indoor air quality.

How Air Purifiers Work

The standard HEPA mechanical filter removes 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size, and many ones smaller than that. However, they are not effective against odor molecules or gases—and this is where and electronic air purifier comes in.

An air purifier is not a filter at all. It instead sits in a section of an HVAC system where all outgoing air must pass and creates what is known as a corona discharge in the air. This electric discharge ionizes the air particles: it changes molecules with a positive charge to a negative charge, and those with a negative charge to a positive charge. Large particles—most types of contamination—attract electrons easier, and are therefore more likely to ionize.

The purifier then attracts the ionized particles toward two sets of plates. The negatively charged plate attracts positive ions, and the positively charged plate attracts negative ions. As the contaminants draw toward the plates, they collect together and grow heavier, dropping out of the air.

This method of ionization affects the same particles that a HEPA filter traps, but it also affects gases and odors. Air purifiers will eliminate chemicals, pesticides, carbon monoxide, and most odors from the air, all of which would escape even the best mechanical filters. Purifiers need an electrical connection to work, but only require a minimal amount of energy; you’ll save money in so many other ways that the cost to run the purifier will seem completely unimportant.

Air purifiers come in different sizes and types, and not all will work well for your home or HVAC system. Contact Boehmer Heating & Cooling and speak to our air quality experts, and they will help you locate the right air purifier in Baldwin, PA to give you the cleanest, pollution-free air possible. You can also count on us for the maintenance necessary to keep your purifier working year after year.