AC in our play area

I’m a stay at home mother to three children under the age of 7. It’s a full time job trying to maintain a home, plus keep up with three young kids who are always looking for something to do. Our favorite season is summer, because the kids and I can play outside for hours. There’s so much to do during the  summer season. We can swim, go to the park, ride our bikes, or color our driveway in chalk. However, our least favorite season is winter. We get stuck inside with nothing to do because it’s too cold outside. I find myself struggling to keep my kids busy and not whining and fighting out of boredom. During the winter, I take the kids out to lunch at our favorite fast food restaurant. They love the chicken and the amazing play place. While I enjoy getting out of the house for a few hours, I hate sitting in the play area with them. It’s always super hot and stuffy inside, even though the rest of the restaurant felt fine. When I asked the manager about adjusting the AC in the play area, he kindly told me that their HVAC system was old and struggled to keep it cool. One day, I took the kids to the restaurant  and the play area was surprisingly colder than the rest of the store! When I asked the manager why it was so cold inside, he told me that they had just replaced all their air filters. Apparently, the air filters were consumed with so much dust and grime that it was preventing the cool air from entering the play area!

Building a new home

When my husband and I built a home from the ground up, we consulted with a general contractor, plumber, electrician and HVAC technician.  We wanted to make sure we got everything right, and weren’t stuck living with a silly mistake.  Although the general contractor was very knowledgeable about planning the layout of the house, he was not specialized in electrical, plumbing, or HVAC systems.  I know that everything from the location of power outlets and the thermostat, to the ductwork and drains will impact our everyday life, budget, and comfort.  I think I spent the most time consulting with the HVAC professional.  Determining what type of heating and cooling system would work best for us was quite a challenge.  We wanted a system that would provide  year round temperature control without costing a fortune in energy bills.  We were hoping for a zoned system that would allow us to customize temperature settings room by room.  We eventually settled on a forced air furnace and central air conditioner with a duct system concealed in the ceilings and crawl space.  At that point, I didn’t realize how intricate and important the design of the duct system is.  To ensure maximum airflow and energy efficiency of the HVAC system, the ducts cannot feature any sharp bends.  The number and placement of the HVAC vents in the various rooms is extremely important.  It was helpful that the HVAC contractor was able to fabricate the metal ductwork, because he could accommodate our timetable and verify the quality of materials.  Now that the HVAC system is installed and up and running, we couldn’t be happier with the results.  

I need a better generator

During the month of July, we experienced some really terribly rainstorms.  It caused a tremendous amount of damage and inconvenience.  The high winds led to power outages, and the deluge of rain resulted in flooding.  With no electric, we had no running water, lights, or air conditioning.  Plus, the sump pump did not operate.  This mean that my basement flooded, and my house was overheated and sticky.  We couldn’t even open the windows because of the rain.  It was impossible to get comfortable or sleep at night.  I was constantly wet with sweat and was unable to even take a shower.  The food in the refrigerator spoiled, and I found mold growing on the window sills and on the walls of the basement.  The water in the basement ruined my washer and dryer, and resulted in damage to the furnace.  I decided to take proactive measures to prevent that situation from happening again.  I contacted my local HVAC contractor for help.  He recommended that I invest in a standby generator.  I was rather shocked at the cost of a standby generator, but decided that it was worth it.  The flooding of the basement cost me a fortune and presented health risks.  The standby generator is permanently installed and automatically starts up and provides electricity in the event of a power failure.  Because it runs on natural gas, just like my furnace, it never needs to be refueled and can operate indefinitely.  Now, if we should experience a power failure, my family will not be without lights, television, running water, air conditioning or the furnace.  

local HVAC 

A crazy thought

It’s crazy to think that my husband and I have been married for fifteen years and we have ever been on a vacation together.  When we first got married we were very poor and we could not afford to go on a honeymoon.  We just stayed at a family friend’s beach house for the weekend. I finally decided that after all this time I wanted to go on a trip with my husband. We don’t have any children so it should be pretty easy to schedule the trip. After thinking about it for a while we finally settled on a trip to the mountains. Neither one of us have clothes that are meant for cold weather. I started to stock up on warm clothing for the both of us because we live in a warm climate, honestly we don’t even have to turn on the furnace during the winter time because it always stays pretty warm. However, I am excited to experience a new weather climate. I know that it is silly, but I called the hotel to make sure they had a properly working furnace. I didn’t want to show up to this cold area without a working HVAC system. The receptionist laughed at me and said that yes they definitely had a working heating and cooling system. We are all packed and ready to go, now I just really hope she wasn’t kidding about the HVAC system. I don’t know what I would do if we don’t have a furnace once I get there, fingers crossed she was telling the truth!

heat and cool 

Taking a day off

I have just graduated from a really great law school. While I was in school I was also working a full time job and interning part time at a local law firm to gain experience. I was looking forward to the day after graduation for months now because I would have the day off from work as well. I have not had a day to myself in about three years. I know that sounds like I am exaggerating but I really don’t recall a day when I could just relax since starting school. But, I had this whole day planned out. I was going to wake up early and go for a nice long walk on the beach. Then I was going to get my hair and nails done and end my night celebrating with all my law school friends. However, upon waking up on my first day off in three years I noticed my air conditioner wasn’t running. I hoped that maybe one of my roommates had just turned the air conditioner off by accident, but that was not the case. The thermostat was completely black and I didn’t know what to do. I could have gone about my day as planned and let my roommates deal with the HVAC issue, but I decided to call the HVAC technician myself. I thought I could at least get the ball rolling. Once I called the HVAC technician I felt a lot better and went for my walk. After I got back the HVAC van was in the driveway and hopefully he was fixing whatever is wrong!

HVAC equipment 

I had some bad luck

I don’t know if anyone has had as many bad experiences as I have with the local HVAC shops around my town. I swear that I haven’t had a single positive experience since the day that I moved in, and I’ve tried my best to locate one company that I can actually trust to do the work I’m paying them for. Because our house is fairly old, we have an outdated HVAC system that requires TLC on a regular basis, and I’m often calling out a heating and cooling repairman to help me start our air conditioner or furnace, depending on the season. However, every single one of them has managed to show up late, if they show up at all. They have been rude and unpersonable, and often act like it’s an inconvenience for them to repair my equipment, rather than their job. Most of them have been snippy and detached, and I have had trouble finding out what measures they’re taking to get the job done. A few of the repairmen have even failed to fix the temperature control unit in question, and have simply left the scene without saying a word. Some of these characters have even had the audacity to try to charge me for their service afterwards! It’s been an astounding laundry list of failures, and I’m beginning to wonder if there is a single reputable heating and cooling company in this entire city! If there is, I’m destined to find them eventually, and I’ll be keeping their number on speed dial.

bay area

My friend is a mechanic

Have you ever hat a friend you could always count on no matter what? Those kind of friends are hard to find, and if you are able to locate one, you should hang onto him for dear life. About ten years ago, I met an a/c service mechanic when he came to my house to do an energy audit, and he provided me with a list of energy savings tips. I don’t know why, but for some reason we got along well and became instant friends. Ever since then, my friend the a/c service technician has always been available to me. He is as as good a friend as you can find. If I need someone to talk to, my friend the HVAC guy is there for me. If I need advice about something, my heating and cooling friend is always there to lead me down the best path. I may not always take my a/c guy’s advice, but I am so grateful that he is willing to offer it to me. Then, not only that, but when my HVAC stopped working about a year ago, I called one of the local HVAC companies for a/c service, and he got all cantankerous with me and demanded I let him come look at my a/c first. I said I didn’t want to take advantage of the fact that he was a heating and cooling specialist; that is not why we are friends, but he still insisted on doing the HVAC service call himself. I was, ultimately glad I called on my HVAc friend because he was able to repair the a/c relatively quickly, and it saved me the HVAC service fee.

Swimming

I live in a southern state and every summer I ask myself why I do live here in this hot, humid climate that makes me feel icky most of the year. It is hot and humid at least nine months of every year, and the three months in the middle of the summer can only be described as brutal. For me, there is no relief from the heat other than two things: swimming and air conditioning. If I could spend those three months swimming in a pool all day, I would no doubt do it. Unfortunately, I am expected to be at this place known as the office. The workday really gets in the way of spending lots of time at the city swimming pool. The other thing that ruins my swimming adventures is the daily thunderstorm that happens where I live nearly every day in the dog days of summer. That means I am left with one source of relief: the air conditioning. The HVAC systems in my neck of the woods include heaters (which I never use), air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. Many people may not realize the the central air conditioning systems where we live include dehumidifiers because our air is so humid. I did not know about the dehumidifiers until I went to visit the southwest, where the air conditioners include humidifiers. They have no moisture in the air, so they need humidifiers. You can practically drink our air, so we need dehumidifiers. Between the rare day when weather allows me to swim, and the indoor air conditioning systems, I survive our southeastern summers.

air conditioning unit 

I just can’t keep the window open

I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in a sketchy area, but I certainly have. There were a number of years when I resided right on the edge of a pretty ghetto area of town, and it was a learning experience for sure. For instance, I learned to walk with one earbud at night and my keys wrapped tightly in my hand, just in case I needed something sharp in a pinch. I also learned to keep my car locked as soon as I got into the seat, and never to leave my windows open in the apartment. This was problematic, however, because the apartment had such terrible heating and cooling capabilities. Since I couldn’t have my windows open, I relied entirely on the apartment’s thermostat to rectify poor air quality or an uncomfortable air temperature, and the furnace and air conditioner we less than efficient. I remember it would take at least 12 hours for the heater to adequately warm the air during the winter; I could bump up the temperature settings and plan on feeling a difference in the ambient air temperature half a day later, if I was lucky. I don’t think that the air conditioner ever actually worked. My apartment was easily 85 to 90 degrees, even with the AC at full blast. There was no way I could catch a breeze from outside, because opening the window was a recipe for harassment and break ins, so I lived in a burning hot apartment and prayed for the day I could afford to move out.

heating and cooling 

This is not as nice as our home

I can say with confidence that although I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, I definitely don’t want to do it in an office. I’ve only learned this recently, after having left my cushy state job for a less luxurious position working from home for independent contractors. Sure, I don’t have a salary or benefits anymore, but I also don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting up in the morning and commuting to work. Beyond that, my workspace is now perfectly customized to my own personal preferences. It seems silly, but I’m so glad to have control over the thermostat during my workday. I previously worked in a large institution with the most overwhelming air conditioning I’ve ever experienced. Between the months of May and September, the building is kept at such a low air temperature that it feels more like a refrigerator than an office building. I would sit and shiver at my desk all day, trying to stay warm in the powerful AC. The ventilation system was so well planned and powerful that there was nowhere to escape from close proximity to air vents, so there were drafts from every direction. The temperature settings were clearly designed for people with warmer blood than I. Now I can stay home and adjust my thermostat with the click of a button – I don’t even have to get up from my desk because we have a smart thermostat! I can finally stop shivering and learn to be comfortable while I work!

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