Archive for December, 2013

New Year’s Eve: The Tournament of Roses Parade

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The East Coast has their own traditions for New Year’s Eve, notably the dropping of the ball in Times Square to signal the beginning of the New Year. We have our own traditions here on the West Coast, and with 2014 almost upon us, we thought we’d take a closer look at one of the biggest: the Tournament of Roses Parade.

The Parade is held every year on New Year’s Day, save when January 1 falls on a Sunday (in which case it is held on the 2nd). Tradition holds that they don’t host it on a Sunday in exchange for God preventing rain on the parade, though it has actually rained ten times since the first parade. It all began in 1890, when members of the Pasadena Valley Hunt club organized and staged it on Colorado Boulevard. Their parade consisted of horse carts covered with flowers, followed by a series of athletic events (including races and polo matches). Football was first added in 1902, when Michigan beat Stanford by a score of 49-0. The football tradition was dropped for a few years, but came back in 1916 for good. The game has traditionally featured the champions of the Big 10 and Pac 10 Conferences, though teams from different conferences have appeared from time to time.

As for the parade itself, it soon added motorized floats, marching bands and equestrian units to its array of features. A “Rose Queen” is chosen every year from the ranks of Pasadena girls ages 17 through 21, along with six princesses to serve as her court. 2014’s Rose Queen is high school student Ana Marie Acosta. A Grand Marshall is chosen every year as well, and has previously included such varied luminaries as Walt Disney, John Wayne, Dwight Eisenhower, Hank Aaron, George Lucas, Charles M. Schulz, Kermit the Frog, and Fred Rogers. The Grand Marshall for 2014 will be legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.

Wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate New Year’s Day, we here at Sound Heating & Air Conditioning wish you nothing but the very best. May 2014 bring you all good things, and may your New Year’s celebrations – in whatever form they take – be happy, safe and fun for your entire family. Happy New Year!

Longer Days Ahead: Why Winter Solstice Is a Reason to Celebrate

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Holiday greetings from all of us at Sound Heating & Air Conditioning!

December is a time of celebrations across the globe, despite the cold weather that affects much of the countries in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, the cold weather is one of the reasons that it is so important for people to embrace celebrations of light, color, food, and warm drinks—what better way to cheer up during a time of short days and low temperatures?

There is another reason to feel joy at the end of December, regardless of your religion or culture: an astronomical event called winter solstice.

Four astronomical markers divide the seasons on planet Earth: two solstices and two equinoxes. Equinox (a combination of the Latin words for “equal” and for “night”) is the point in Earth’s orbit when its axis is parallel to the Sun. Solstice (from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still”) is the point in orbit where the Earth’s axial tilt points toward the Sun. During the equinoxes, which occur at the start of spring (vernal equinox) and fall (autumnal equinox), the periods of day and night are the same length. During the solstices, which occur at the start of summer (June solstice) and winter (winter solstice), either day or night is at its longest period. June solstice is the longest day of the year; winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year.

Occurring on the 20th or the 21st of the month (this year it falls on the 21st), winter solstice marks the official beginning of winter, but also the point at which the days start to grow longer once more. The sun, which has dropped lower in the sky since the June solstice (June 20-21) and reaches its lowest point above the horizon on noon on winter solstice, once again begins to rise.

From the earliest human prehistory, people have recognized the winter solstice as an important event in their lives. When winter survival was difficult for early human societies, the sight of the sun beginning to rise in the sky once more was a symbol of hope and a reason to celebrate.

(All of the above applies to the Northern Hemisphere of Earth. The equinoxes and solstices flip in the Southern Hemisphere. For example, in Australia, Christmas is a summer holiday.)

However you commemorate and observe this time of year, we hope you and your family have a joyful and safe season!

Ways You Can Save on Heating This Season

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Heating season usually brings with it higher heating bills, as home owners run their furnaces more often and monthly costs rise as a result. Here in Tacoma, heating repair services see increased breakdowns and service calls during this time, reflecting increased seasonal use. Prudent homeowners can find ways to cut heating costs, and reduce the risk of more extensive repairs in the bargain. Here’s a few ways you can save on heating this season.

  • Get your heater maintained. Heaters collect dust and dirt over time, especially during the summer when they don’t see much use. In addition, they may develop problems that aren’t readily noticeable, but which can turn around and bite you at the worst possible time. A maintenance session can address all of that: cleaning off the dust (which reduces friction and general stress), tightening loose bolts or fittings (which improves efficiency) and spotting any potential issues for larger repairs. All of that improves your heater’s efficiency, which cuts down on bills.
  • Seal leaks in your home. If you have a crack under your front door, a window pane that leaks air or an uninsulated portion of the attic, they could be costing you warm air. Seal any leaks with weather stripping and see if you can add more insulation to your house.
  • Look into zone controls. A zone control system for your heater lets you tailor the temperature in individual portions of your home. You can thus turn off the heat in areas you aren’t using, while leaving it on in those rooms you’re occupying at the moment.

All of that comes on top of common-sense ways you can save on heating this season, such as wearing warm sweaters in the home and setting your thermostat a few degrees below what you’re used to. Heating repair services in Tacoma don’t get any more reliable than Sound Heating. We can perform maintenance and repair on your existing heater, as well as installing a new heater if you feel that the time is right. Call us today to set up an appointment. You’ll be glad that you did!

Why It’s Never Too Early or Late for Heating Maintenance

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Heating maintenance isn’t strictly a repair service. It’s more like a tune-up for your furnace or boiler. A trained expert arrives and gives your heater a thorough examination. He checks the burners to see if they’re functioning correctly, cleans any dust or build-up on the internal components, tightens any loose bolts, and identifies potential problem areas for future repair. Many prudent homeowners schedule their maintenance session right before heating season begins, as a way of keeping track of it and to ensure that their heaters are running properly before they really need to be used. Here in Tacoma, heating service companies usually provide solid maintenance calls, as well as more formal repairs. But you needn’t wait for a set time schedule to plan for a session. Here’s why it’s never too early or too late for heating maintenance.

The biggest advantage of a heating maintenance session is preventing a problem before it starts. Dust and dirt can increase strain on a heater, which in turn increases the risk of a serious breakdown. If a technician cleans off the dust – regardless of how much has built up – that can reduce the strain on the system. Not only does it help prevent larger issues later, but it helps your heater run more efficiently, which in turn lowers the monthly costs of heating your home.

Along those lines, a maintenance session can spot potential trouble areas before they get out of hand. For example, a loose bolt may cause the fan motor to rattle a bit. If a technician spots that in a maintenance session, he or she can tighten the bolt and fix the problem. Conversely, if the bolt is left loose, it may damage the motor itself, requiring a far more expensive replacement later on down the line. Regardless of when a maintenance session takes place, if it catches something like that, it could save you a great deal of money.

In Tacoma, WA, heating service is provided by Sound Heating. We know why it’s never too early or too late for maintenance and our trained heating experts are standing by to inspect your furnace whenever you desire it. Pick up the phone and give our Tacoma heating maintenance technicians a call to make an appointment today.

How to Maximize Your Energy Efficiency this Winter with a New Heater

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Here in Tacoma, heating installation is not a causal undertaking. Our winters are cold enough to demand a reliable heating system at all times, and considering the costs involved, you want your existing unit to last as long as possible. Sooner or later, however, even the most durable heater needs to be replaced. A new heater can make a difference in numerous ways, not the least of which is an improved energy efficiency in your home. Here’s how to maximize your energy efficiency this winter with a new heater.

The very act of buying a new heater will probably help you make better use of your resources, since it probably works more efficiently as a matter of course. More specifically, you should look for a heater with a high AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating, measured as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the more energy is being used to actually heat your home. New heaters tend to have a higher AFUE than old ones, and you can “cheat” a bit by selecting a heater with the EnergyStar label (denoting units with particularly high AFUE ratings).

In addition, it’s very important to size your heater properly, with about 50 BTUs (British Thermal Units) or heating power for every square foot you need heated. (The specifics can vary depending on things like insulation and sunlight exposure, so let an expert make your calculations for you.) If the heater’s too small it will work too hard without warming your home. If it’s too large, it will cycle on and off rapidly, wasting heat in the process. Maximum energy efficiency can be achieved only if your heater is sized just right for your home.

These are just general tips showing you how to maximize your energy efficiency this winter with a new heater. For more specific plans on how to maximize your energy efficiency this winter with a new heater, call the Tacoma heating installation specialists at Sound Heating. We’re based in Tacoma, heating installation is part of our area of expertise and we’re dedicated to making sure your new heater gets the maximum amount of bang for your buck. Give us a call today and let us show you what we can do!