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Heating Assistance this Winter

The temperature has dropped and the winter weather has certainly taken hold of our region. At Morris Heating & Air Conditioning we know that New Englanders are a hardy bunch who can handle all that Mother Nature can throw at us, but even the toughest are not immune to freezing weather. The New York Times, estimated that more than 10 million people across the country are likely to need help heating their homes this winter and many may be eligible for fuel assistance. If you are having trouble paying your heating bills this winter, there are options available to you including nonprofits that offer grants, government assistance programs at the state and federal level and low-income assistance programs. Many local utility companies also have special programs to help families in need. Additionally, there are funds available for emergency financial aid as well as systems in place that offer legal protection against shutting off heat for non-payment.

Please consult one of the following resources for complete information and restrictions. No one should suffer in a cold home. There is help available. Reach out if you need it. You are not alone.

Here is a list of resources if you find that you are struggling to keep your family warm this winter.

  • Government Programs – Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Block Grant is funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and provides two basic types of services – financial assistance to pay utility bills or weatherization programs to improve energy efficiency in each home. LIHEAP programs are offered for families that are considered low income and are facing either an emergency disconnection or are perilously low on home heating fuel. For more information Massachusetts LIHEAP and New Hampshire LIHEAP .
  • Utility Company Assistance – Most utility companies and energy providers located around the nation provide their customers with a large number of financial assistance programs. Some offer payment plans, flat rates per month, cash grants and financial assistance programs. Ask your home heating company what options you may have to help you get through the winter.
  • Non-Profit Assistance – Many charities, nonprofits and social service agencies offer cash assistance programs. For example, the Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program has delivered millions of gallons of discounted and free home heating oil to elderly households and those lower income households that are struggling. There is support for those living in poverty or impacted by an emergency, such as a job loss. Another example is the Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund which has been helping residents in crisis with paying energy bills and heating homes for 32 years.
  • Free Legal Assistance to Halt Disconnection – Most states have non-profit law firms that can advise low to moderate income individuals, the elderly, and disabled on their legal rights when it comes to utility service disconnections. Read more.

Challenges of an Older Home

Many eager, young home buyers are moving away from new construction homes in search of something with great character and charm – an older home. Older homes in established neighborhoods have options such as unique architecture, larger lots, and high grade building products that are sometimes lacking in newer construction. Therefore, older homes have the potential of providing more house for the dollar.

Unfortunately, with an older home come some fairly common problems. Home inspectors often warn potential buyers about structural issues, foundation concerns, the need for electrical upgrades, plumbing that is outdated and roofing that needs replacing or repairing. At Morris Heating & Air Conditioning we are concerned about one of the most common problems we often see in older homes – outdated heating systems which is sometimes dangerous and almost always severely lacking in terms of energy efficiency. While we love the character and history of older homes, here are few challenges specific to the HVAC systems of an antique home which should be considered before you purchase that home of your dreams.

Older house with ornate decorative molding

Heating Equipment and Technology

If you’re hiring a home inspector, hire an inspector with experience working with old houses. He or she should pay close attention to the heating, electrical and plumbing systems. Many older homes have antiquated heating systems which heat unevenly leaving some rooms cold and other rooms stifling! This uneven temperature could be due to a variety of reasons from ductwork issues to a problem with the sizing of the heating system itself. Times have changed and energy efficiency of HVAC systems is light years ahead of what is was even 10 years ago. If you are considering purchasing a home with a heating system greater that 15 years old, you may want to get copies of the current utility bills and consider calling us for a professional opinion/free estimate on replacing the current system. We recently completed a This Old House Project for a home in Arlington (old house/old heating system). By upgrading to a new energy efficient heating system, the homeowners saved 80% off their utility bills by. See story here http://morrisheatingandair.com/this-old-house/

Heating system maintenance — If you find the property you’re considering has system that has not been properly maintained, that’s another red flag. On average a furnace has a lifespan somewhere between 10-15 years depending upon the model and how well it has been maintained. Poor maintenance history will not only shorten the lifespan of the heating system, indoor air quality and energy efficiency are impacted as well.

Zoning — Zoning is not a concept designed into the original heating systems of antique homes. For this reason, you may find yourself facing some very high utility costs. This is not unsolvable. We have solutions for older homes, but be aware that zoned heat is not common in older homes.

AIr Conditioning — What AC? Yes it’s true. Many antique homes do not have AC and because they are often lacking in ductwork, adding AC to older homes is in some cases not an easy proposition. The good news is that with Mitsubishi Ductless systems we can now add AC (and heat for those drafty hard to heat areas) just about anywhere — no ductwork required. These are great systems for older homes. For more information click here http://morrisheatingandair.com/ductless-heating-and-ac/

Energy Efficiency –

Believe it or not many older homes had energy efficient elements built right into their original designs. Original construction methods capitalized on natural sources of light, used trees and nature for protection from wind and elements, and positioned homes to take advantage of solar energy.

At Morris Heating & Air Conditioning we have many happy customers living in beautiful antique homes. In fact Morris Heating & Air Conditioning’s owner, Tim Morris, grew up in a antique home — built in 1826. We love old houses here at Morris — we’d just like to caution you on what to look for before you purchase a home with an outdated HVAC system. If you find a home you fall in love with and the heating system is outdated, don’t cross that old beauty off your list just yet. We have lots of excellent energy efficient heating and cooling solutions which are perfectly suited for the many beautiful New England homes in this area. Call a Morris Heating & Air Conditioning Comfort Advisor at 978-356-9900 for a free estimate or even if you’d just like some advice. We’re here to help.

Advantages of a Ductless System

We are often asked by our customers about the advantages of a ductless system for heating and air conditioning for their home or business. Since its introduction in the Asian market in the 1970s, ductless systems have come a long way, not only by being more energy and cost efficient but also, in aesthetics and ease of installation. Originally the ductless system was meant to provide spot cooling to homes and buildings to replace bulky window units. It was offered as an alternative where a more complete, whole-system approach was either unfeasible, due to space, or financial constraints. Today, ductless systems have advanced greatly and become popular for both air conditioning and heating. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages a ductless system may offer for your home or business.

  • Ductless is flexible! Ductless units can be installed in a variety of places in the home or business. Historically, heating and cooling units were limited to windows or areas where ductwork could be added to the home. Now, ductless systems open up opportunities to add just the right temperature to one or many rooms in your home or business.
  • Energy Savings – Ductless systems eliminate the air having to travel through ductwork, which can cause up to a 30% loss in energy. Heating and cooling can be lost along the journey through the ductwork to the room you are heating or cooling. Seeps, cracks and inefficiencies can cause a loss of energy and ultimately add to your bill.   
  • Easy Installation – No one wants to have their ceilings and walls torn apart to install costly ductwork. Our experienced technicians here, at Morris Heating &  Air Conditioning, can quickly mount the indoor air handler and easily install the outdoor unit without tearing apart your home.
  • Zoned Comfort – Ductless heating and cooling with multiple zones allows homeowners and business owners alike to adjust the heat or air for the needs of each room. By opting for a multi-split ductless system, property owners can set different temperatures in different rooms allowing for optimal comfort. If a room is not going to be used on a given day, you can stop adjust the heating or cooling accordingly. This results in significant energy savings.
  • Remote Access – Many ductless systems allow for adjustments in heat or cooled air to be made remotely. This advancement can save you time going from room to room adjusting for time or day, natural solar heating of a room and lowering the temp when it is time for bed.

If you are wondering if ductless heating and air conditioning is right for you then call us at Morris Heating and Air Conditioning for a free consultation.   As a Mitsubishi Diamond Dealer, Morris Heating & Air Conditioning is an expert on ductless systems.  Watch a short video here about the differences between Mitsubishi’s single and multi zone systems thttp://morrisheatingandair.com/ductless-heating-and-ac/ and please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions.  We sold more ductless systems in 2016 than any other year.  This energy efficient product is clearly here to stay.

Why You Should Service Your Heating System Regularly

Being a homeowner means keeping track of all the things that keep your home running like appliances, heating, air conditioning, water, plumbing and electricity. It can be exhausting and sometimes tempting to take a break from it all. One area that you should be sure to keep in proper working order, that we care so much about here at Morris Heating &  Air Conditioning, is your HVAC system. Regular maintenance should be performed to keep the system running smoothly, safely and efficiently – at the very least – once a year. Most manufacturers recommend servicing the HVAC system annually to troubleshoot for specific things like leaks, debris, contaminants, and efficiency. Here are some of the top reasons why you should follow the manufacturer’s advice and get your HVAC system a check up.

HVAC system

  • Warranties on your equipment could be voided or denied coverage if not properly maintained. Manufacturers suggest the annual servicing for a reason and often require that it is completed before a warranty is honored.
  • Maintenance should be conducted to ensure safety of the equipment, especially prior to the months when the system will be working its hardest (winter for heat and summer for air conditioning).
  • Regular maintenance will cut down on breakdowns when you need the system the most. Unfortunately, when HVAC systems get stressed during high volume times they can breakdown. That may mean being without heat or air conditioning at the most inopportune times. Last winter when we analyzed our “No-Heat” emergency calls, we discovered that more than 50% of those calls came from people who had not had their annual heating system service.   
  • Prevention of larger problems is a substantial reason to get your system checked. Spotting problems in a system before they become a bigger issue is extremely important.
  • Annual cleanings of your HVAC system can ensure that dirt, debris, allergens, and contaminants are free and clear from indoor air.
  • Like all heating and cooling systems, proper maintenance is key to efficient operation. The difference between the energy consumption of a well-maintained HVAC and a severely neglected one ranges from 10% to 25%.
  • Finally, maintaining your system regularly means that your HVAC professional can spot leaks that may have otherwise gone unnoticed for months.

Call Morris Heating and Air Conditioning to schedule an appointment for an annual service or visit is us at Morris Heating &  Air Conditioning.

New Year’s Energy Resolutions

 

Feel like you are paying too much for your utility bills? Well, you aren’t alone. According to Energy Resolutions online, approximately 90% of consumers feel like they are paying too much due to factors like inefficient equipment, energy leaks or poor energy usage. Start off this year with a few suggestions from our experts here at Morris Heating & Air Conditioning on how you can resolve to slash your utility bills this coming year. Not only could you end up saving yourself some serious cash but also reduce your carbon footprint thus protecting our fragile environment.

young girl holding sparkler

As we say goodbye to 2016 and usher in the promise of a fresh start and a clean calendar for 2017, now is a good time to start some simple resolutions to help save energy.

  • Reduce – Reduce your energy usage dramatically by unplugging equipment that you tend to leave plugged in, like phone chargers, toaster ovens, and computers. ENERGY.gov has a quick calculator that can show you how much you could be saving per appliance.
  • Seal Up Leaks – If you have a heating system that relies on ductwork, improperly sealed ducts are often the source when it comes to wasted energy each winter.   Some duct leaks may be obvious but if your home is difficult to heat, improperly sealed ducts may be hidden where you cannot see them. Please call us for help in assessing these situations.  We will be able to diagnose if the problem relies in the ductwork or in the main heating element.  In addition to checking the ductwork, consider caulking, sealing and weather stripping windows and doors to keep cold air out and warm air in. Just by weatherizing your home, you can save yourself another 10-15% on your utility bills. Don’t forget to use the sun for natural heating when you can by opening drapes or shades on south facing windows.
  • Get a Check Up – When was the last time you had your heating system inspected? Proper maintenance will extend the life of your system and keep it in proper working condition. Did you know that you can improve the efficiency of your heating system by up to 20% just by having it maintained correctly? Check out the Service and Repair page to find out why performing the annual heating system Clean & Check is so important.
  • Save on Lighting – According to the Department of Energy, the average household dedicates about 5% of its energy budget to lighting. Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $75 each year.
  • Get a Programmable Thermostat – By updating your thermostat you can not only save money but also increase your comfort level no matter what Mother Nature throws at you. With a programmable thermostat, homeowner’s can adjust the heat according to when they are home. WiFi thermostats offer even more flexibility and MASS Save often offers rebates for both programmable and WiFi thermostats.

Contact Morris Heating and Air Conditioning if you want more great ideas to add to your Energy Resolutions.

Converting from Oil to Gas

Are you curious about what it would take and cost to convert from oil heat to natural gas? If you are researching switching from oil heat to natural gas, you will want to do some number crunching as well as take a look at the benefits of a potential switch.Natural Gas Flame

What’s Available? – The first step to making a switch is finding out what is available in your area. According to Realtor.com, about half of the country uses natural gas already, and only about 8% uses oil. Most of the rest use costlier heating — electricity accounts for 34%, propane 6% — typically because that’s what is available locally. The vast majority of oil-burners are concentrated in the northeast, where they account for 31% of residential heating systems. Call your local town hall to confirm what areas have natural gas lines already. Morris Heating & Air Conditioning can help you get started and make the best choices for you and your home.

Research the Equipment and Other Costs – Gas-powered heating systems typically costs less than oil and are much more energy efficient. Additionally, federal tax incentives and rebates are often available for high efficient systems.  Balance this cash-back against other potential conversion costs such as underground piping, and removing your current oil tank.

Look at the Big Picture – Gas is more environmentally-friendly and provides a cleaner form of heat that’s better for the health of your family. The cost savings may be a huge incentive, especially if you account for the tax incentives and rebates offered by the government and natural gas companies. In addition, think about the fact there will be no more delivery gaps or negotiating a good price every winter. Natural gas flows directly from an underground pipeline, so it’s always available.

Morris Heating and Air Conditioning can guide you through this process and help you make the right choice for your home. Call us today for a free in-home assessment.

Morris Heating and Air Conditioning can guide you through this process and help you make the right choice for your home.

Giving Back to the Community

make-a-wish-logoThe holiday season is a season of generosity, giving and paying it forward. Here at Morris Heating & Air Conditioning we believe in doing just that. We give back to the community both as individuals and as a company. We believe in doing this year round and not just as a once-a-year event during the holidays. Our giving back to the local community comes from the ideas of our employees and customers who have touched our lives.

While we sponsor a large variety of charities it is during this special season of giving that we focus on children and making this holiday season one that will be remembered. We proudly support and sponsor the Boston Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. This worthwhile and invaluable foundation serves a unique, and vital, role in helping strengthen and empower children battling life-threatening medical conditions.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has been granting wishes for more than three decades to children with life-threatening medical conditions. We love knowing that our company and our employees are a part of granting “wishes” that are fulfilled on average every 35 minutes! The wishes come in all shapes and sizes and do so much more than just give a child an experience or an item they want. It also is known to be a turning point in the child’s fight against their illness. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals report that the wish experience works in concert with medicine to make their patients feel better emotionally and even physically. A wish can help a child get stronger, more hopeful and spread that optimism to family members and caregivers.

Morris Heating & Air Conditioning is proud to be a part of such a wonderful program that captures the true meaning of this season. For just a partial list of all of our local charities go to our Giving Back page on our website.

Solving Uneven Heating Issues

We all have that one person in our family who is either always cold or always hot. They tinker with the thermostat constantly and wrap themselves in blankets, hats and mittens to let the rest of us know they are uncomfortable. While that person may have a different internal temperature that drives them to bundle up, other homeowners find that they have uneven heating or cooling problems that are causing the changes in temperature from room to room.

old-thermostat

The most common reasons for temperature imbalances between floors or rooms in your home include:

  • Uneven air flow between multi-level homes. (Heat does rise after all.) If your thermostat is on the first floor, it is only reading the temperature of that floor.
  • Ductwork that is improperly sealed or isn’t the right size for your home.
  • The heating or cooling system isn’t the right size for your home.
  • Blocked registers that have been covered by furnishings could be stopping the flow of air.
  • Air filters are dirty and are blocking air flow.

Some of these problems can be an easy fix: like moving furniture from a register or cleaning the air ducts. Here are two other remedies that may take a little more planning but can be a more permanent solution to your uneven heating and cooling issues.

  • Zoning Systems – By adding a zoning system to your home, homeowners will be able to control the temperature independently from a thermostat placed on each floor or in different areas of the home. A properly designed zoned heating and cooling system can provide even and consistent temperature throughout all parts of the house. This is an energy efficient solution that will increase comfort and reduce utility bills because you have more control over the hearing and/or cooling of specific rooms.  You wouldn’t control all of the lights in your home with one switch.  Not only would that not be energy efficient, it wouldn’t make sense either.  Zoning makes sense.  More control allows you to save energy and equals more comfort.  Simple as that.
  • Ductless Systems – If you have rooms that are difficult to control the heat and air, or rooms that are part of an addition, an older home where you don’t have room for ductwork, then a ductless system may be a good fit for you. These smaller units without the ductwork can be easily mounted on the wall and connected to an outside unit. The homeowner can control the temperature independently in each room with a single or multi-split system that can be placed directly in the room(s) you are having difficulty with.

Morris Heating and Air Conditioning can examine the uneven heating and cooling in your home and suggest a solution that is right for your home and your budget. Call us today.

Controlling Humidity in your Home

Is it too sticky in your home in the summer and too dry during the winter? Many homeowners battle controlling the level of humidity in their homes depending upon the season. In the northeast, we have dry, cold winters that can strip the moisture from your home and body. In the summer, our climate changes into a more tropical feel that can make homes feel musty and clammy. Both extremes can take a toll on your health and the atmosphere in your home. Let’s learn a little about humidity and how to gain some control over it.

Humidity is determined by the amount of water vapor in the air. Health professionals recommend that humidity levels are ideal when they remain between 40 – 60 percent. When humidity is too high, it aids in the growth of mold, fungus and dust mites. When humidity is too low it can cause dry eyes, itchy skin and the natural balance of moisture in the body to be off, thus leading to lung and breathing issues. So, what are some techniques to control the level of humidity in your home so that you and your family remain healthy and happy?

Controlling humidity in your home

Humidity Too High

If your home has a humidity level that is causing illness or is just plain uncomfortable, here are a few steps to take to help you lower the humidity level.

  • Use a dehumidifier when necessary – particularly in basements and during the summer.  There are a variety of dehumidifiers available ranging from simple off the shelf plug in units to professionally installed in-line systems designed to dehumidify one room or an entire home.
  • Use exhaust fans while cooking and showering. If you don’t have an exhaust fan be sure to open a window to exchange fresh, drier air.
  • Check on dryer vents to be sure they are venting properly.
  • Install energy efficient zone heating and cooling that will allow you to control the temp and humidity levels.
  • Get professional advice.  If you believe you have a humidity issue which is affecting your family, call a Morris Heating and Air Conditioning Comfort Advisor for a free home assessment.  We have a variety of solutions to tackle this common problem. Humidity problems often crop up in basements, poorly insulated rooms and sometimes affect an entire home. We can help.  Call us today.

Humidity Too Low

If you notice that you have dry, cracked skin and static electricity is at an all time high in your home, then the humidity may be too low. Here are a few suggestions to put some moisture back in your air.

  • Add a whole home humidifier to your heating and cooling system. Most of us have purchased a simple plug in unit to add moisture to a room to help a sick child get through the worst of a cold or flu, but the fact is, these units will do little to humidify an entire home. Call a Morris Heating & Air Conditioning Comfort Advisor for more information on the wide variety of humidifications products available today.
  • In good weather, you can aid humidity and improve indoor air quality by leaving doors and windows open.
  • Boiling water, running a steam shower, or having a hot cup of tea/coffee are simple tricks to add moisture to the air in the short term, but if lack of humidity is affecting you on a day to day basis, please consult a Morris Comfort Advisor today.  We deal with these issues every day and sometimes all it takes is a very simple solution to make you more comfortable and your home a healthier place to live.

Don’t let issues of low or high humidity affect your health. Talk to Morris Heating and Air Conditioning to get control of your humidity levels now.

Benefits of Smart Home Automation

If you are like most Americans and have a smartphone, then you know what a convenience it is to use any of the delightful applications offered on the device. From voice texting friends to finding your way on Google Maps, smartphone technology has made all of our lives easier. Smart technology has also found a way into our homes as well. Smart Home Automation takes advantage of advancing technology and combines it with the needs and wants of homeowners such as: security, energy efficiency, heating and cooling, lighting, and music. Honestly, who wouldn’t love being able to control lighting, entertainment and temperature from their couch, or even when you are not home?

Complete home automation may sound complicated and expensive, but in reality many systems are very affordable and have a litany of benefits. Here at Morris Heating and Air Conditioning, we know that heating and cooling your home automatically can be both a money saver and energy saver. Here are a few more reasons why installing smart technology may be the way to go for convenience factor, financial savings and security.

home-automation

  • Energy Efficiency – Since our focus is on heating and cooling, we know that one of the best advantages of having a smart home is the ability of the system to help homeowners manage their consumption of energy. For example, smart home technology can allow the thermostat to be set to let the indoor temperature drop during the day before returning it to a more comfortable level just before homeowners arrive in the evening.
  • Security – Smart homes include advanced security systems with cameras, motion sensors and a link to the local police station, or a private security company.
  • Convenience – Convenience is a major factor of why homeowners add smart technology to their home or build with the technology in mind. These homes give users remote access to systems including heating and cooling systems, intercoms, lighting, music and multimedia devices throughout the home.
  • Resale – The investment of a smart home is well worth it when it comes time to sell. Homes with automated systems have the potential to sell for much more than comparable homes with conventional technologies.

So, if you want to have your heating, cooling and other systems at the touch of a button, call a Morris Heating & Air Conditioning Comfort Advisors today at 978-356-9900 and ask how smart technology could work in your home.