Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog:
Archive for December, 2014

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Kilowatt!

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The Benefits of Heating Maintenance

Friday, December 19th, 2014

If you’ve ever needed to call a technician for heating repairs, the experience may not have been a pleasant one. Sure, you got your heater fixed, but going without heating service for a while, even here in sunny Los Angeles, is never ideal. And a heating breakdown almost never occurs at a time when it’s actually convenient to call a technician to your home.

Heating maintenance is one of the most vital services you can schedule to maintain and extend the life of your unit. Yet, so many people wait until there is an issue with their heaters before calling for repairs. With heating maintenance, a technician will manually inspect the entire system, from the smallest of screws to the gas line to the combustion chamber and air handler. If a problem is detected, the technician can inform you well before a sudden breakdown occurs.

Besides the peace of mind you get from knowing about a repair need early on, heating maintenance can also offer the following benefits:

  • Reduced Repairs: Not only will you hear about repair needs before they disable your system; you can also actually reduce the amount of repairs you may have had to make over the years. With maintenance, a technician adjusts components that could have caused trouble. A bent flame sensor or thermocouple, damaged heating coil, or loose bolt could all affect your system later on, but maintenance can keep this from occurring.
  • Lower Bills: The technician will also clean some of the parts that may be causing your system to run less efficiently than it should. Dirty coils, flame sensors, and vents can mean your heater has to work harder and run for longer periods of time to get your home up to an ideal temperature. In some cases, dirty parts can even be a safety hazard.
  • A Longer Lifespan: Finally, heating maintenance can help to extend the lifespan of your furnace, heat pump, or ductless unit by allowing your system to run in top shape without any interference or unnecessary wear and tear.

Call Kilowatt today to learn how our expert technicians can help you to protect the performance of the heater in your home with annual heating maintenance in Los Angeles.

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Why Consider the Installation of an Energy Recovery Ventilator?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

You know the feeling: It’s freezing outside and you’ve had the heater on for a while. The temperature is back up to the point where you can feel your extremities, but now you’ve got a new problem: the air is as dry as a desert. Or perhaps you’ve got the opposite problem, that of humidity so high that you always feel like you just got out of a pool. Fortunately, there is a single solution to both of these problems. Let’s take a look at energy recovery ventilators, and why you should consider installing one.

What is it?

An energy recovery ventilator is a special device that expels stale indoor air outside, while bringing fresh air from the outside indoors. Inside the device is a small heat exchanger. As the fresh air and stale air enter from opposite sides, they equalize each other’s temperatures on the way to their respective destinations. During the cold season this makes the fresh air coming in warmer. That eases the burden on the home’s heating system, instead of increasing it by blowing a bunch of cold air into the house and lowering the temperature. During the summer months, the air coming in will be cooler for the same reason.

Why Consider Installing One?

Energy recovery ventilators are a good idea for anyone who wants fresh air in their home. Usually, the way to garner that fresh air is simply to open a window. When it’s snowing outside, however, that really isn’t an option. Energy recovery ventilators eliminate the tradeoff, so that you can have better indoor air quality while keeping the temperature you want.

Energy recovery ventilators can also act as dehumidifiers, keeping the air at around 40-50% humidity. This is maintains the sweet spot between air that is too dry and air that is too wet, keeping the occupants of the home comfortable. Whether you are using air conditioning or heating, an energy recovery ventilator is a great way to keep your home feeling fresh.

If you’d like to know more about energy recovery ventilators or to schedule heating service in Los Angeles, call Kilowatt.

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What Are My Choices When It Comes to Furnaces?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Not too long ago, there weren’t many choices when it came to home heating systems, particularly with furnaces. But today you can choose from many options, and when it comes to choosing a furnace, you can choose a combustion furnace or an electric furnace. Most combustion furnaces use natural gas as fuel, but propane and oil can also be used. Electrical furnaces have come a long way, particularly with energy efficiency, so they’ve become a good option for some homeowners. Which should you choose from your home? First, let’s review how each system works.

Electric Furnaces

Electric furnaces have a component called a heating element that contains tightly-wound metal coils. When these coils are electrified, they generate a great deal of heat; in fact, if you look at them when they are heated, they glow red. Once these coils generate heat that reaches a certain temperature, the furnace’s blower turns on and blows cool air over the coils and pushes the newly-warmed air into your home via a duct system. Some benefits of electric furnaces include:

  • No combustion byproducts – because electric furnaces don’t burn fuel, you don’t need to worry about soot, ash, or toxic fumes and gases.
  • Very energy efficient – electric furnaces have very high energy efficiency ratings because they do not lose fuel to exhaust. Many electric furnaces have ratings as high as 100%.
  • No need for fossil fuels – some homes do not have ready access to fossil fuels like natural gas, and other homeowners simply prefer not to use a combustion system.

Gas Furnaces

Gas furnaces generate heat by igniting a component called a burner. The flames and hot gases generated by the burner warm an element called a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger traps the toxic byproducts of combustion inside of it, and the safe, warm air on the outside of the exchanger is blown into your home. A flue is attached directly to the heat exchanger to vent the toxic byproducts to the outside. Some benefits of combustion furnaces are:

  • Very fast heat – combustion furnaces heat quickly and become quite warm, so your home heats quickly, too.
  • Convenient – furnaces using natural gas have a constant flow of fuel, so there’s no need to worry about fuel deliveries or running out of fuel.
  • Widely available – gas furnaces are one of the most common heating systems available, so parts are widely available for repair and replacement.

Understanding what your options are can make it easier to choose which furnace will be best for your home. If you are ready for a new heating installation in Los Angeles, call Kilowatt today and schedule an appointment with one of our installation specialists.

 

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Electric Vehicle Charging

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Electric vehicles in Los Angeles are great for both the environment and your wallet. Kilowatt provides electrical services that can help make your electric vehicle more convenient and enjoyable by installing a proper charging station by a trained and certified electrical technician. How would you like to have your Tesla completely charged in 1 hour? We can do that with a 100 amp quick charger.

Where to put the EV Charger

Before you  buy an electric vehicle, imagine where your electric car will be parked. Think about the ideal location for this piece of equipment. Now measure the distance between where the charger will hang on your wall, and where the charging port is on your car. Cables usually run from approximately 15 to 25 feet. Make sure your cord can easily reach where it needs to go, and think about its length for a potential second plug-in car in your driveway or garage.

 

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Electric Vehicle Charging Tip:  Charge during off-peak hours to save even more.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Installation Depending on where you locate your EV Charger, we may have to run just a few feet of conduit—or dozens of feet. Longer copper runs will add installation cost, but because you’ll charge almost every night, you want it to be as convenient as possible.

You will want a charger that can handle at least 30 amps. The rule of thumb is that 30-amp service will roughly give you the ability to add 30 miles of range in an hour—just as 15 amps will add about 15 miles in an hour of charging. Keep in mind that most plug-in hybrids (and the Nissan LEAF prior to the 2013 model) don’t take full advantage of the faster rate. That’s okay. It’s still wise to have the capacity to charge at least at the 30-amp level, even if your current car can’t fully utilize the higher amperage, so you don’t have to upgrade in a few years if/when you buy a new EV that has a faster on-board charger. Also, it’s nice to allow friends with faster-charging electric vehicles to get a full charge from your garage.

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