These days it seems like you can accomplish almost any task with the touch of a button on your smart phone or tablet device. Well now, with Bryant’s Evolution Connex Control, you can control the temperature in your house too, even if you’re not home.

But really, it’s not just the temperature that you have access too. Also control the humidifier, the ventilator, the fans, and the air purifier as well as air flow to each zone for up to 8 zones. Heading up north for the weekend but forgot to turn the A/C off at your house? No problem: switch it to “vacation” mode on the drive up. And just like typical thermostats, set yours with daytime and nighttime modes.

The Connex control works with your existing wifi connection to have control at your fingertips. The in-home control utilizes a full-color touch-screen display for incredibly easy to manage functions. On the panel you can also access a five-day weather forecast and set up reminders for when you need to change the air filter and when your products should be serviced.

The Connex Control comes with a 10-year parts limited warranty and options for a dedicated wireless router, remote sensor application, and system access module allowing it to be set up with a larger home automation system.

With “Smart Setback,” it actively manages output and ramp up to create the best energy savings while your are away. The system is excellent for energy-saving by regulating the temperature and keeping it consistent. Less fluctuation means less costs.

The Connex control panel accesses your Bryant highest-efficiency Evolution heating, cooling, ventilating, and humidifying solutions. The Evolution System utilizes a longer, lower-stage operation to use the least amount of energy and keep temperatures in the house consistent. It’s been rated by Energy Star as “most efficient” and can save a lot of money on heating and cooling bills. Plus, with the consistent lower-stage operation paired with our mufflers, you will hardly notice noise coming from the units at all. To learn more about Bryant’s Evolution System, check out the video from their site, here: http://www.bryant.com/mediacenter/videos/index.shtml#

At Engelsma, we are proud to feature Bryant products, a company with more than a century of experience in the heating and cooling industry and a company that produces a full range of durable and high quality products that save you money and make your home comfortable. Combined with our 30 years of experience in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area, we are certain that we can provide with you the optimal system for your home at competitive pricing. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority; see how we can help you, today.

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Winter is finally on the wane, and spring is just around the corner. It’s time to dig out your spring chore list, because before you know it, you’ll be turning on your air conditioner to escape the summer heat. Continue reading

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Frozen Pipe DamageThe bitter cold this winter has heightened the possibility of frozen household pipes. Because water expands when frozen, those pipes could burst, causing extensive damage in your homes.

Water supply lines located in unheated areas such as the basement, crawl space, attic and garage are, not surprisingly, very susceptible to freezing in frigid areas. So are pipes under kitchen and bathroom cabinets or that run up outside walls with inadequate insulation.
You can take preventive action to keep your water flowing, and to thaw pipes if they’re already frozen

When the bitter cold hits

Set your thermostat to the same temperature for day and night. Winter is the time your heating costs are already taking a hit, but keeping the temperature up at night can prevent an even more costly burst pipe and the damage it causes.

Open bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors so warmer air circulates around your plumbing. Be sure, however, to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

If you have any water supply lines in the garage, keep the garage door closed.
If you’re leaving your home for even a few days, set your thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees F.

Thawing frozen pipes

If you turn on your water faucet but only a trickle comes out, there’s a good chance you have a frozen pipe. The first thing you should do is keep the faucet open. If the water supply pipe hasn’t broken yet, you can try to thaw it out. Once the ice is partially melted, keeping the faucet open allows water to run through the pipe to help melt the remaining ice.

Attempt to find where the pipe is frozen. Likely places for a frozen pipe are those running along exterior walls or where the water service enters the house through its foundation.

If you can find and access the pipe, DO NOT USE a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, or other heating source with an open flame. You may melt the ice but burn your house down instead. You can, however, wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe, or use an electric hair dryer to direct hot air on the pipe. You can use a portable space heater in areas such as kitchen and bathroom cabinets, but keep the heater away from flammable materials by placing it outside the cabinet while blowing heated air toward the pipes.
You can also wrap pipes with towels soaked in hot water from a faucet that is working. Keep applying heat until full water pressure returns.

If you can’t find where the pipe is frozen or you can’t access the pipe, call a plumber.

Before winter arrives

Drain all sprinkler supply lines and water from a swimming pool following an installer’s directions. Close inside valves supplying outside faucets and open those faucets to train them. Leave the outside faucets open so any water left in the pipe can expand without causing a pipe break.

Insulate pipes located in unheated areas such as the basement, crawl space, attic and garage, and don’t forget under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. It’s preferable to use a foam “pipe sleeve” UL-listed “heat tape” to to cover exposed water pipes. In a pinch, even ¼ inch of newspaper wrapped around a pipe can significant improve protection of pipes that are not usually exposed to prolonged or frequent freezing temperatures

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Grand Rapids Winter 2015How prepared are you and your family for this winter? After last year, it’s understandable that many in the Grand Rapids area are buying salt in bulk and investing in new snow shovels. The winter of 2013-2014 broke records. In Grand Rapids, we experienced 116 inches of snow, which was more than four feet beyond the previous year and the second-largest on record.

This year, the precipitation is going to be milder, but that doesn’t mean the temperatures will be much higher. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts this winter will be much colder than normal through mid-February. They also predict the most snow will fall in late January and early February.

Local meteorologists paint a different picture.

They expect that in regions west of State Route 131, the average temperatures will still be cold, but average precipitation rates will be considerably milder than the previous year.

The NOAA predicts that Michigan will be up to 40% drier than the previous year, but warn the same might not be true for Michigan’s Snow Belt regions. The lower precipitation levels are due to a relatively weak El Niño season. Since the snow belts are fueled by Canada and the Great Lakes, those areas will experience higher precipitation. The Climate Prediction Center predicts that Grand Rapids will experience five inches less snow than average, which will be 45 inches behind 2013-2014.

The NOAA and local weather experts agree the winter will be comparatively warmer than last year. Last year was extremely cold east of the Rockies, though this year the cold temperatures seem to be concentrated in the southern United States and the Gulf of Mexico.

How to Prepare Your Furnace

The winter is only half over. The weather will still be cold, and it’s important to address your furnace. If you have a furnace that has not been cleaned in some time, it may be time to get your unit checked. We want to provide you with the facts. Your furnaces need cleaning not because clean ducts help improve your health, rather because clean air ducts save you money.

Every physician knows dust levels inside the home correlate with bacterial and viral counts, improving the chances of getting sick. The EPA has done studies on dirty ductwork. They have found zero evidence linking a dirty furnace and increased dust levels inside the homes, or that duct cleaning prevents illness.

Duct cleaning can make your furnace more efficient, reducing home heating costs. If you can see mold or other contaminants growing on the motor, coils, or other component, the furnace definitely needs cleaned. This is not uncommon if the unit sits in a damp basement, unused, all summer. If you have recently fixed up your home or have animals, the dust and fur can get lodged in critical components.

With a cold winter in full swing, consider having your furnace looked at by a professional. In the very least, change the filter. Also remember that an open damper on an unused fireplace will simply pull the hot air straight from your home.

Whether the unit needs cleaned or is suffering from inefficiency due to some other ailment, call Englesma, your local heating and cooling experts in Grand Rapids!

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Bryant Air PurifierWinter is the time to button up your house tightly so you don’t let heat escape. Making up for that lost energy drives up your energy bills.

But maybe you closed up your house too tightly. You may not be just keeping the heat in your home, but trapping bacteria, viruses, even airborne mold spores. An easy way to circulate fresh air into your home is to open a window, but that’s not a viable option deep in a Michigan winter.

A better option for you may be an air purifier that removes dangerous pathogens from circulating through your home. While a room air purifier eliminates some of the problem, unpurified air continues to circulate throughout your house and even into the room where the purifier is located.

The best solution for your home is an air purifier that connects to your current heating and ventilation system to purify 100 percent of the air circulating through your system. This solution not only purifies the airborne pathogens in your rooms, it also prevents germs and mold caught up in dust in your air ducts from being introduced into your living space.

At Engelsma Heat and Cooling, we offer a full line of Bryant air purifiers for homes in the Grand Rapids area. Bryant’s two styles of its Evolution Perfect Air Purifier kills or deactivates 99 percent of the pathogens and irritants it captures. These Perfect Air Purifiers don’t just filter air, they re-purify the air each time it goes through the system, which can be as often as eight times per hour.

Bryant’s purifiers also eliminate the sound irritation you can get from a room purifier, which can be noisy when you’re sitting near it. All of Bryant’s air purifiers are silent. They’re attached next to your ventilation system next to your furnace, out of sight and out of hearing range, while offering the peace of mind that you have protected yourself and your family from the maladies that often strike this time of year.
If you’re interested in seeing what a Bryant air purifier can do for your home, give Engelsma a call today at (616) 453-0833.

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As soon as winter starts coming around, homeowners start looking for ways to heat their homes for less. It’s not a hopeless endeavor. There are some simple steps you can follow to take a bite out of your heating bill and still avoid facing a big chill in January.

Simple Solar Heat

If you have south-facing windows, pull back the curtains during the day and let in the sun. Letting sunshine into your home on those days winter days when it’s not overcast can make some rooms downright toasty in January.

Fight the Draft

Windows, however, also are sources of drafts, letting in cold air and making your furnace work overtime. Your best option is to use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet taped to the inside of a window or attached to a frame that fits tightly inside the window well. You can also add window treatments and coverings that can reduce drafts.

You can find and seal leaks in your home to further reduce drafts. Add caulk or weather-stripping to eliminate gaps around leaky doors and windows, and outdoor water faucets. Also use weather stripping behind electrical outlets and switch plates, baseboards, attic hatches, dryer vents, cable TV and phone lines, a wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.

Lower Your Thermostat

The natural inclination is to turn up the heat when it gets cold outside, but you don’t have to turn up the heat so high. If the outdoor temperature is in the teens, 68 degrees in your living room can feel pretty cozy.

If you can keep the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and just put on a sweater, that can be a significant savings on your heat bill. Turn the thermostat down even farther at night and use a warm blanket or comforter to stay warm. Setting the thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees cooler for eight hours a night can save approximately 10 percent a year on heating bills. A programmable thermostat will make those adjustments, and reductions in heating costs, automatic.

Keep Your Furnace Running Efficiently

You have had your scheduled service for your furnace taken care of already, right? Look, it’s not a big deal to get it done. Call Engelsma to learn more about any regular service required for your furnace model.

At the very least, you should replace your furnace filter. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends replacing your furnace filter once a month, more if needed in your home. A clogged filter makes your furnace harder and still blocks much of the heat from reaching your room interiors.

If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed except when you have a fire burning. You can also reduce heat loss when using the fireplace by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox, if you have them, or open the nearest window slightly, just an inch, and close doors leading into the room.

For more extensive measures, contact your utility company for a home energy audit and analyzer. Both DTE Energy and Consumers Energy can get you started on home energy analyzers by going to their websites, www.dteenergy.com and www.consumersenergy.com.

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There are times when a furnace slowly deteriorates, when it just doesn’t heat as well as it used to.

And then there are times when it just stops cold, too often on one of the coldest nights of winter. If this happens to you, what should you do? First off, don’t panic. There are a few things to quickly check to be sure it isn’t something simple. Often it is. Rather than immediately calling for an emergency repair service, take a few minutes to go through this checklist. You may need urgent repairs. You may need a new furnace. Or you may only need to throw a switch. Let’s take the simple and cheapest actions first.

The Furnace Doesn’t Turn On or Only Blows Cold Air

  • Check your thermostat. Make sure it is set to “Heat” and the thermostat is set high enough to call for heat. This may seem obvious, yet it’s surprisingly often overlooked. Think of how embarrassing it is to call in a repairman only to have him come over and turn on the thermostat, not to mention the service call fee.
  • If the furnace runs constantly, but only blows cold air, check to be sure the fan is set to “Auto”
  • If the thermostat is set properly, check to be sure the power is on and reaching the furnace. Check the circuit breaker to see if it’s in the “Off” position, and if it is, throw it to “On.” Also check the power switch connected to the furnace to be sure it’s in the “On” position.

All of That Checks, but the Furnace Still Doesn’t Work

  • Check your fuel source. If you use propane or oil, make sure the tank isn’t empty. If you use gas, check to make sure your gas supplier hasn’t turned off your gas and put a lock on the meter.
  • If you had to turn the circuit breaker on, does it flip back to off when you turn up the thermostat? If it does, now you need to call for a repair. There’s an electrical system problem leading to or in your furnace.

If all of the above checks out and the furnace still doesn’t work, calling Engelsma Heating and Cooling for repair service is in order. But there may be trouble signs you can spot before a furnace gives out entirely.

Is Your Furnace Running Ok but Your Family is Feeling Lousy?

Furnaces can develop cracks in the heat exchanger as they age, leaking carbon monoxide into the home. Signs may include frequent headaches, a burning feeling in the eyes or nose, even nausea and disorientation. If you develop these systems, turn off the furnace, open the windows and call for a repair. Carbon monoxide is deadly.

Is Your Burner Flame Yellow?

It should be blue. A yellow or flickering flame could be a sign that inefficient burning is creating carbon monoxide. Other signs include streaks of soot around your furnace, no updraft in your chimney, excessive moisture on windows and other cold surfaces, and excessive rusting on flue pipes.

Is Your Furnace Getting Noisy?

If you’re hearing strange noises from your basement such as banging, popping, rattling or squealing, you don’t have ghosts. What you may have is an old furnace nearing its end. If the furnace seems to run constantly, or if it turns on and off frequently, you could have a problem with temperature sensors.

If you do run into any issues that you can’t resolve quickly, or better yet, you’d like a seasonal inspection of your heating before you get into the heart of winter, Give Engelsma a call and we’ll inspect your furnace and be sure it’s running in great shape.

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Is This the Year Your Furnace Heads South for the Winter?

Bryant FurnaceWhen you have to decide to fix or nix your furnace, do the math to compare upfront and long-term costs.

Winter is approaching, and you’re down in your basement staring at your furnace, wondering if it will hold on for another year. The question you’re facing is: if the furnace does break down, do you save money and repair it, or do you invest in the long-term value and replace it?

Each individual situation is different. Engelsma Heating and Cooling can inspect your current furnace, identify needed maintenance and costs, and discuss options with you. But if there comes a time this winter when you have to make that choice, here are some yardsticks to go by to help you decide.

How Long Should a Furnace Last?

Your furnace may have many years of life left. Average lifespans of forced-air heating systems are 15 to 20 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders, and boilers for hot-water baseboards and radiators can last 13 to 21 years. Yet even a 25-year-old furnace can continue to heat your home well if it’s been properly maintained.

If your furnace has reached three-quarters of its expected lifespan, now would be the time to start considering a new furnace before it breaks down and you have to make a choice in a hurry. The first step would be to have a technician from Engelsma H&C inspect the furnace and tell you the actual condition it’s in.

Cost and Age

While repairing a furnace will likely cost less than buying and installing a new one, the upfront cost shouldn’t be the only consideration.

If your furnace is more than 10 years old and the cost of repairs exceeds a third of what a new furnace would cost, the better solution may be to replace it. If the repair bill would be near 50 percent the cost of a new furnace, a new furnace can clearly be the better alternative, no matter the age of your current one.

If the furnace is less than 10 years old, and the repair costs are a third or less than the cost of replacing it, repairing the furnace would be a solid choice.

Heating Efficiency

The fuel efficiency of furnaces has been greatly improving in recent years, as rated by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency number or AFUE. A furnace that’s 20 years old will likely have a 70 percent AFUE. Today’s minimum is 80 percent, and some furnaces come with a rating as high as 95 percent AFUE, reducing your heating bill significantly.

Once you add in the tax credits and manufacturer’s rebates available for energy efficient furnaces to soften the upfront cost, you may find there’s significant savings over the long term in buying a new furnace rather than trying to make your old furnace last just a few years longer.

If you have doubts about where your furnace is heading this winter, give Engelsma Heating and Cooling a call to have us come out to do a complete inspection and assessment of your current heating system. Our expert advice will help you make the right choice.

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furnace tune upWhile September days can still feel like summer, the nights are beginning to cool, and many Grand Rapids residents will fire up their furnaces for the first time this season. With another rough winter in the forecast, everyone is going to need their furnace to be in peak shape before the bitter nights take hold in Michigan.

What Does My Furnace Need?

In the same way you might inspect a car after a period of rest, your furnace needs a checkup, too.

Furnaces, like anything else that lives in a basement or closet, collect lots of dirt. Any component of your heating and cooling system – your filter, your fan, your blower – can collect dust and grime, which not only makes the system less efficient, but can cause bigger problems down the road.

A full furnace inspection and tune-up will include replacing the air filter, cleaning each component of the system, and making sure that the motor is well-lubricated. In addition to these routine tasks, our technicians will check for structural issues and make you aware of any potential damage that could lead to further repairs.

It’s important that these tasks get done before you turn on your furnace for the first time. It is easiest to clean a furnace when it is cool, and turning on a furnace with dirt buildup can result in that dirt getting blown through your house – not the heating experience most of us have in mind. In addition, the buildup can make your heating system less efficient, which will have bigger consequences when it’s time to pay the bill.

Maintenance appointments are an important part of our relationship with your furnace; it gives us a chance to avoid surprises down the road. If you find yourself in an emergency or need urgent repair, knowing your furnace ahead of time will help us fix it quickly.

Let’s Schedule A Furnace Tune-Up

For those of you who have worked with us before at Engelsma Heating and Cooling, this is simply a matter of scheduling your yearly maintenance appointment.

If you’ve never had a furnace maintenance appointment before, have no fear! With 30 years of experience, Engelsma Heating and Cooling knows what your furnace needs to heat your home safely and efficiently, which saves you time, worry, and money. Schedule an appointment with us now, and let us help you get ready for snow, skiing, and Santa.

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Polar VortexMost years, Grand Rapids, Michigan residents expect hot temperatures in July and August. Historically the hottest months of the year, they typically usher in several weeks of blistering heat, with temperatures reaching into the 90s or hundreds.

As a result of summer heat waves, homeowners with air conditioning crank up their cooling systems, depending on these devices to keep the air inside their homes fresh and comfortable. The ensuing electricity bills may comprise a larger portion of the household budget, presenting financial difficulties for many families.

However, an unusual period of cooler temperatures in the Midwest has reached Grand Rapids, yielding 60- and 70-degree days that feel more like fall than summer. Although meteorologists disagree on whether or not this event represents a “polar vortex” (similar to the one that occurred over the winter), no one questions the result – especially when they receive their energy bills.

What Caused the Summer Cool-Down?

Temperatures in Grand Rapids began to fall in early July as two cold fronts traveled across the Midwest. A pair of weather systems in the planet’s troposphere (from 0 to 7 miles from Earth) triggered the cool-down when they combined before traversing the region. Since then, temperatures have remained up to 20 degrees cooler than average, leading to speculation as to whether this represents a larger climatological event.

Some individuals attribute the extended period of mild weather to a polar vortex, an event taking place in the stratosphere (the layer above the troposphere, extending from 7 to 31 miles from Earth). However, based on the depth at which meteorologists have measured the atmospheric shifts, this appears to be a case of mistaken nomenclature.

What the Mild Weather Means for Energy Expenses

Regardless of the linguistic designation of the extended cool-down, the results remain the same. Residents across the Midwest have been abandoning swimming pools, turning their air conditioners off (or up), and opening windows to enjoy the flow of fresh, cool air through their homes.

The less frequent use of air conditioning will certainly lead to lower cooling bills for these individuals. On average, air conditioners cost 42 cents per hour to operate, representing tens or hundreds of dollars on homeowners’ electricity bills. When Michigan residents receive their bills over the next few weeks, many of them will experience a welcome surprise.

The same will not be true, however, for regional energy companies. Wisconsin Energy Corp., for instance, projects its profits will decrease by 16 percent this quarter, attributing its drop in share prices to the unseasonably cool summer. With July as their “peak season,” energy providers and their shareholders are likely less excited about the mild weather than their customers.

Taking Advantage of the July Cool-Down

As Grand Rapids continues to experience the effects of the two cold fronts, air conditioners will continue to enjoy a reprieve from punishing summer heat. Residents who use the opportunity to clean or change filters and perform other routine maintenance tasks will not only benefit from lower cooling bills – they will also prepare themselves well for any late-summer heat waves!

What differences have you noticed in your energy expenses during this unseasonably cool summer?

image credit: Chicago.cbslocal.com

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