Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning Blog: Archive for December, 2014

5 Facts about Santa Claus

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Many holiday traditions involve the story of Santa Claus, the lovable old man who spends most of his time at the North Pole taking a single evening to deliver presents and candy to children everywhere. But since Santa Claus is so elusive (unless he happens to be visiting your local shopping mall), how do we know so much about him? Where exactly does his journey begin? Our holiday guide details 5 of the most common traditions associated with Jolly Old Saint Nick.

  1. The Origins of Santa: The name “Santa Claus” comes from St. Nicholas (a name which became Sinter Klaas for short in Dutch), a Christian Bishop from 4 A.D. who was known for giving his fortune away to those in need in Turkey. Santa Claus’ first associations with gift-giving comes from Holland’s St. Nicholas’ feast day, during which children would leave out their shoes overnight and find presents waiting inside the shoes on the next morning.
  1. The Stocking by the Chimney: While many people associate Holland’s shoe tradition with the origins of hanging a stocking, this isn’t entirely accurate. Hanging stockings instead comes from the legend of a time St. Nick helped a man afford to marry off his daughter by throwing a bag of gold down the chimney, which landed in a stocking that was hanging up to dry.
  1. St. Nick’s Outfit: Santa got his fashion sense from a wooden cutout handed out during a meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1804. But it wasn’t until a 1930s Coca Cola advertisement that his traditionally blue, white, and green outfit was transformed into a big red suit.
  1. Leaving Cookies out for Santa: Food was traditionally used as ornamentation during the holidays in medieval Germany as apples and cookies commonly adorned the home at wintertime. When the Christmas tree became a common symbol of the season, edible treats began to vanish, a phenomenon which became attributed to Santa Claus’ snacking habits.
  1. Why Santa Drives a Sleigh: Santa gets his sleigh from a tale spun by Washington Irving, the same author who brought us the Headless Horseman. He wrote down an account of a dream in which Santa Claus drives a weightless wagon through the sky, and the stories became so popular, they stuck around.

Here at Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning, we hope that you have a joyful and safe celebration, no matter what holiday traditions you engage in this year. Happy holidays!

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Will I Save Money with a Geothermal System?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Using a geothermal system to heat and cool homes grows more popular as an option with each passing year. A geothermal heat pump offers homeowners a level of stability and dependability for comfort that they could not receive from a standard air-source heat pump. This is especially important in a place like Chicagoland, with our intense winters that put heavy stress on air-source heat pumps, but which won’t bother a geothermal system that has access to the stable temperatures in the earth below the frost line.

Another reason to consider installing a geothermal system in Northbrook, IL is that geothermal power can help you save money. Installing a geothermal system costs more than a standard heat pump because of the digging and extra material and equipment involved, and this sometimes causes potential customers to hesitate: will a geothermal installation save money in the long run? Our technicians at Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning, who have years of experience installing different kinds of heat pumps, can help answer that question.

How Geothermal Systems Save Money

The reason that geothermal heat pumps (also knowns as GHPs or ground-source heat pumps) are energy efficient is the same reason they work so well in temperature extremes: they access a reliable source of heat from underground so they will not need to overwork either to extract or deposit heat. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, geothermal heat pumps can reach high efficiencies of 300% to 400% on even the coldest winter nights, compared to 175% to 250% for air-source heat pumps on only a cool day.

How much can this efficiency save you? We cannot provide an exact dollar amount, of course, because it depends on the size of your home, the geothermal system, and your pattern of heating and cooling. However, the Department of Energy estimates that the savings from a ground-source heat pump will allow it to earn back its installation cost in 5–10 years. When you consider that, according to the DOE, the average system life expectancy for a geothermal heat pump is 25 years for the inside components and more than 50 years for the ground loops, you will have at the minimum 15 years of excellent energy savings after the end of the payback period. In addition, geothermal systems often raise the value of a home, adding to the amount of money they return on their investment.

Contact Us for More Information About Geothermal Heat Pumps

There are so many reasons to consider installing a geothermal system in Northbrook, IL and other parts of Chicagoland that we cannot list them all in this space. We encourage you to give us a call at Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning and take advantage of our many decades of work in heating and cooling to provide you with all the information you need to decide if you want geothermal installation for your home.

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Can I Repair an Electric Furnace on My Own?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Homeowners are usually aware that it is dangerous to tamper with any natural gas-powered appliance in their home. In fact, in most jurisdictions the law forbids anyone except a licensed professional from working on any device connected to a gas main. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and explosions is too high to risk amateur repair attempts.

This means that repairs for a gas furnace are strictly off-limits to non-professionals. But what if your home doesn’t use natural gas and your heat comes from an electric furnace? There are plenty of do-it-yourself guides online for electric furnace repairs, and at first glance the job may seem like something you could troubleshoot on your own.

However, you should not attempt to repair your home’s electric furnace without professional assistance. The risk of injury is not as great as with a gas furnace (although it still exists) but the complexity of modern heating systems makes it unlikely you can fix the problem without training and the right tools. In many cases, you might make the problem worse. Take the easier path toward heating repair in Morton Grove, IL: call Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning and let us handle the malfunctioning furnace. We have more than a century of experience repairing heaters throughout Chicagoland.

One of the major issues you can encounter if you try to DIY your electric furnace is damage to its efficiency. Electric furnaces cost more to run than gas furnaces because electricity is a more expensive fuel source. It is therefore crucial that you maintain your electric furnace’s efficient performance so it will not lose heat from poor ducts, straining blower fans, or bad insulation. Tampering with the system without familiarity with what you are doing could cause your heating bills to skyrocket. Leave the repair work to people with the training to maximize efficiency: what you pay for the repairs you will soon earn back with energy savings.

A badly repaired electric furnace can turn into a problem for your home’s entire electrical system. A furnace draws a large amount of voltage to run, and if it suffers from haphazard attempts to fix its wiring, it can result in a system that causes circuit breakers to trip each time the heater comes on.

One of the most common problems that causes electric furnaces to lose heating power or completely fail are broken heating elements, which are responsible for warming up the air with electrical resistance heating. Only people familiar with furnace repairs can successful replace heating elements.

The next time your electric furnace starts to malfunction, don’t waste time and money tinkering with it. When you call to schedule an appointment with Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning for heating repair in Morton Grove, IL, we will take care of the problems fast and see that your furnace works in top condition and keeps your bills from rising.

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Why You Should Never Delay Scheduling Heating Repair

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

A sudden heating system breakdown is never ideal in Illinois.  But if you notice a small problem with your furnace, boiler, or heat pump, it may seem as though it’s not so big of a deal. Sure, the amount of heat you feel from your system is reduced. But if you bundle up in some blankets and leave the heater on all night, you still feel enough warmth to get through the cold evening.

Sometimes, homeowners feel as though they can wait a while to schedule heating repair as it may not have much of an effect on their way of living, for now. But here at Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning, we’ve seen that the worst-case scenario—a sudden heating breakdown—can really take its toll on a homeowner.

You’ve noticed a small problem with your heating system: unusual noises, reduced heating, strange behavior at start-up. So what’s the big deal? Many homeowners are satisfied with their heating system as long as it is still providing some amount of heat in the home. However, these small problems can develop (slowly or quickly) into something much, much worse. Let’s look at a few examples.

That loud noise you hear in your boiler could be due to what’s known as kettling. Sediment builds up in the boiler tank, reducing the pressure in the tank until water begins to leak out. In some cases, the sediment buildup is so serious, you’ll need replacement. Or, let’s say that your furnace only runs for brief periods of time. This is known as short-cycling and it can cause many of the components to wear down beyond repair.

Besides, when you wait to see a technician, your bills begin to skyrocket. When one part of your heater won’t work as it should, all of the other components must work a lot harder to keep up. This means they’ll use a lot of energy to run, raising your utilities and reducing the lifespan of your system.

At Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning, we don’t think you should have to wait for heating repair in Morton Grove, IL. That’s why we offer 24-hour emergency repair so you can lower your risk of a failed unit and get your system back to normal in no time. Give us a call today to schedule a service appointment.

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