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With temperatures dipping into the teens at night this week, it is clear that winter is here. This week we give you our top 10 tips to keeping you comfortable and warm in your home this winter.
  1. Have a well working heating system. This may seem obvious, but many of our heater systems have been dormant for many months and we forget about maintenance. If this is you, don't worry! We can come out and give your home heating system it's winter checkup. (We are currently offering $25 off service calls as well!)
  2. Let sunlight in during the day. Once the sun is up, you want to capture as much of that free heat as possible. Even on cold days, the sun is still warm. So before you leave the house for the day, open up those curtains and let the light shine in.
  3. Keep curtains closed at night. Once the sun goes down, keep all that heat you let in during that day from leaving through the windows by closing the drapes.
  4. Check out your ceiling fans. You don't normally think of ceiling fans when you think of the winter months, but they may be sitting needlessly dormant. Many fans have a “winter” setting, which reverses the fan so that it moves clockwise vs. counterclockwise. Since heat rises, the clockwise-spinning fan will push the heat back down into your rooms versus being trapped up at the ceilings. This is especially recommended if you have high or sloped ceilings.
  5. Move furniture away from vents. You may have unknowingly placed furniture in front of heating vents when you moved in or rearranged. Go around the house and double check that vents aren’t blocked, and if they are, find a way to move your furniture, at least for the winter. This will make sure every room is getting its max heat potential.
  6. Seal leaks. We all know the obvious ones - windows and doors, but air could be escaping beyond the windows and doors - think attics, basements (where cements meets the wood frame), even kitchen hood vents. Take a look at this handy guide from energystar.gov to find those leaks and seal them. Hint: caulking can be your best friend.
  7. Keep certain rooms toasty warm by closing doors. If you spend a lot of time in certain rooms, you can close doors and create a little sauna. If you have big, open spaces, you can use room dividers; it may not seem like much, but any blockage that keeps air from escaping just a little less quickly will help keep things warmer. You can also close doors to rooms that aren’t frequently used in your home — just make sure you also close the vents in those rooms. This sort of acts to lower the heated square footage, and the warm air will spread quicker and easier through the house. As a bonus, this will save a little bit on your heating bill, too.
  8. Use the oven. Baking, convecting, and broiling things will keep your house warmer, especially in rooms nearest the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to roast a chicken or bake a ton of cookies when the temperatures dip. Bonus - bring the cookies to your coworkers and become the office favorite!
  9. Add layers to your wood floors. According to the National Energy Foundation, uninsulated wood floors can account for up to 10% of a home’s heat loss. Carpets and rugs were created for a reason — to keep rooms warmer. They’re far better at trapping heat than your creaky wood floors. Add a rug or roll of carpet to your floor in the winter, and you’ll notice a difference in coziness.
  10. Utilize space heaters, but with caution. Space heaters are excellent tools for keeping individual rooms warm. The danger is that they are a high-risk fire hazard, especially compared to other tips listed here. To ensure the safety of your household, keep any flammable material at least three feet away, and make sure the heater is on an even and stable surface. Never leave space heaters on overnight or when you leave the home (there are timed space heaters that turn off after 1-4 hours that are a better option than entirely manually-operated ones). Additionally, it’s a good idea to only use space heaters that shut off automatically when tipped over.
We hope you all stay warm this winter! If you find yourself with any heating issues give us a call for out 24 hour emergency service.
plumber

According to the EPA's WaterSense program, the average American family uses about 300 gallons of water a day. That's a significant amount of water. Wouldn't you like to do your part to optimize the plumbing system in your Richmond, Virginia, home to use less water and save money on utilities in the process? Here are some efficient products that will help you do this.

Tankless Water Heater

If your home has an older tank water heater, consider upgrading to a tankless heater system. A tankless heater only uses energy to heat water on demand in place of storing large reserves of hot water on an ongoing basis. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that homes using tankless water heaters for up to 41 gallons of hot water a day will be 24–34 percent more energy-efficient than those using conventional tank heaters. Energy Star estimates a typical family will save about $100 a year with an Energy Star qualified tankless heater.

The upfront cost of a tankless water heater is expensive, so shopping for a good price is key. However, the unit's longevity is greater than the tank counterpart's, 20 or more years versus 10–15. Also worth noting, tankless heaters can have cold shower moments if too many hot-water faucets are running at the same time.

High-Efficiency Faucets

One simple way to cut down water usage is to change your water faucets over to more efficient fixtures. Older faucets have a water flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). The new EPA WaterSense standard is 1.5 gpm. If you prefer not to replace your existing fixture, you can add an inexpensive water-saving aerator or flow restrictor.

Ultra-Low-Flow Shower Heads

Similar to reducing faucet water flow, you can save water and energy by upgrading your shower heads. The EPA WaterSense standard for shower heads is to stay below 2.0 gpm. You can find high-efficiency, ultra-low-flow shower heads capable of exerting high-pressure water streams.

For more information on how Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can help optimize your plumbing system, call us today: (804) 277-4241.

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smart appliances

When it comes time to shop around Richmond, Virginia, for your next kitchen or household appliance, take a look at the latest wave of smart appliances. This advanced technology is equipped with energy-saving sensors that provide automation; some can even alert your mobile phone when a task is complete.

Smart Grid Appliances

If you happen to live along a smart grid, you can make use of smart grid-enabled appliances, which provide energy-consumption feedback to utility companies. This two-way communication enables the appliances to adjust runtimes and scheduling to operate when the grid is at lower demand. This helps lower energy costs and reduces high demand on energy grids, which, in extreme situations, can lead to brownouts.

Laundry Washers With Load Sensors

New laundry washers are equipped with water load sensing technology. These smart washing machines will add only the amount of water that is needed to efficiently wash your laundry load.

Tank Water Heaters That Learn

Smart storage tank hot water heaters now exist with electronic thermostats that learn from household behavior. This ability allows the appliance to heat the water closer to an on-demand basis, and not keeping it hot all the time. These heaters also come smart grid-enabled.

Dishwashers With Soil Sensors

You can now find dishwashers with built-in soil sensors. These machines measure the amount of food particles contained in a dirty load and will adjust the amount of water, the water pressure, and the cycle time. Not only does this smart appliance save on water usage, but it also has a direct impact on energy usage.

Energy Star Products

Look for Energy Star products. They are not exclusive to advanced technology, but the role the organization plays in energy efficiency is crucial. Always look for its ratings on appliances as you shop, and use them as a guideline in making your purchasing decision.

For information on installing these smart appliances in your home, contact Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today at (804) 277-4241.

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allergies indoors

Once the leaves have finished falling and the first frosts have passed, you don't normally think of allergies being a problem until springtime returns to the Richmond, Virginia, area. Considering everyone spends most of their time indoors throughout the winter, indoor allergies are a real issue to contend with.

Dust and Mold

Both dust and mold exist year-round. They become problematic in the winter with the use of heating systems. As indoor temperatures rise, mold and dust mites will flourish wherever there is moisture present, especially when relative humidity is above 60 percent.

Service your HVAC system each fall so it is clean and mold-free. Change the air filter regularly as recommended by the manufacturer. To fight allergies, use a pleated filter with an MERV rating of 7 or higher to capture fine particles and various allergens. If high humidity is an issue, look into a whole-home dehumidifier add-on for your HVAC system.

Firewood

There is a romance to lighting a fire indoors to heat the home that cannot be met by any electric or gas-powered appliance, but there are allergens to consider. Make sure your firewood pile is kept in a dry place free of nesting animals and bugs. Any dampness or mud will lead to mold growth, while nesting brings it own host of issues, like animal waste, grass, and leaves, any of which can trigger a nasty reaction once it goes airborne while burning.

Pet Hair and Dander

Many people are allergic to their pets or to the material they come in contact with. Cats and dogs think nothing of lying in comfortable piles of grass and leaves or dusty piles of rags, only to then spread those allergens everywhere they go. When your pets shed, any airborne hair and dander will carry the allergens along with the animals' saliva, which is another allergen.

Simple solutions are to vacuum your home often, as well as bathe and brush your pets weekly. And, change the HVAC filter as frequently as necessary.

For more information on improving your indoor air quality to combat allergies, contact Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today: (804) 277-4241.

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heater checkup

Storage tank hot water heaters are generally not problematic until the day the tank springs a leak or the heating element fails. Deciding to repair or replace the unit comes down to a few factors: age, type of damage, and cost. You'll want to make a quick decision since no one wants to be stuck showering without hot water, even in temperate eastern Virginia.

Leaking Tank

Considering the tank holds 40 gallons or more of water, you'll want a wet/dry vacuum on hand to clean up your flooded basement. Shut off the water supply immediately so water doesn't continue to pour out. Leaks occur because minerals in the water have corroded the tank's interior surface over time. In this case, repair is not an option.

Repairable Issues

Water heaters are fairly simple appliances containing no moving parts: Water enters the tank, a gas- or electric-powered element heats the water, and the hot water is distributed throughout the home when demanded. Therefore, these few basic issues can occur, each of which is fixable:

  • Thermostat breaks
  • Gas heater pilot light goes out
  • Gas burner or electric heating element fails
  • Pressure-relief valve sticks

Cost and Age

The question of making repairs comes down to cost and the age of the water heater. If the storage tank heater has reached the eight-year or older mark, it's worth looking at a replacement. New tank heaters are more energy-efficient, while an older storage tank is at risk of leaking. Next, you'll want to compare the cost of a replacement part, the labor costs of a plumber, and the remaining longevity of the heater. If these costs outweigh the purchase and installation of a brand new unit, then replacement is a probable answer.

It comes down to cost analysis and price shopping, and figuring out how many years of the heater's life your money will buy you. The younger your heater is, the more likely a repair makes sense over replacement.

For more information on resolving your water heater needs, contact Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today at (804) 277-4241.

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