Friday, August 14, 2015

8 HVAC Tips for Homeowners

1.  Keep up with routine maintenance

If you don’t already have a proactive maintenance program for your HVAC system, it’s a good idea to schedule semi-annual service with a qualified HVAC service company.

They can make sure your system is operating at its most efficient settings and that parts or components are in good working order.
2.  Operate your HVAC system at optimum and stable temperatures
The temperature you set your thermostat is largely a matter of personal comfort, but many systems have optimum temperature ranges that ensure they’re using energy efficiently.
Consult your owner’s manual or with your service technician to find out the most energy-efficient temperature range.
It’s also a good idea to avoid fluctuating temperatures too frequently, as this can make your HVAC system work harder and less efficiently.
3.  Seal your home from drafts
Most people think about stopping air infiltration in colder winter months, but it’s also crucial during AC season.
Any air leak in your home robs your HVAC system of efficiency since that heated or cooled air is lost.
Ensure that all windows are shut and that doors have good weather seals before turning on the HVAC system.
4.  Beef up your installation
Particularly in older homes, inadequate insulation is another factor that can lead to losing heated or cooled air from the HVAC system.
If you’re unsure about your home’s insulation levels, consult with an energy auditor or insulation professional for guidance.
5.  Turn down the thermostat
Setting the thermostat to the coolest temperature in the winter or highest temperature you find comfortable can seem like a small step, but the energy savings can be substantial.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing your home's temperature 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours at a time during the heating season can save you 5 to 15 percent in heating bills each year.
6.  Use a programmable thermostat
If you don’t have, installing a programmable thermostat one can go a long way in to help reduce energy use when you’re not home.
The less your HVAC system has to work to maintain comfortable temperature levels that aren’t necessary because no one is home, the more savings you’ll see on your heating or cooling bill.
7.  Change your filters regularly
Changing your HVAC system’s air filters once a month, or as directed by the furnace or filter manufacturer, helps ensure your system has smooth, uninterrupted air flow.
New filters can help your system work more efficiently, saving you money in the process. For example, new filters in your air conditioner can account for an energy consumption savings of 5 to 15 percent.
8.  Use window treatments to help control temperature
Window coverings can have a big effect on your home’s heating or cooling load.
In cooler months, harness the sun’s free warmth by keeping curtains, blinds or drapes open on south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight in.
Close them at night to add an extra layer of insulation between the glass and your home interior.
In the summer, keep window coverings closed during the day to reduce temperatures.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Personal Letter from D.M. of West Chester

At Brandywine Valley, we not only strive to exceed the expectations of our customers', but we also try to be sensitive to their specific needs.  This is a personal letter to the president that describes what "Comfort with Care" means to us.

D.M., we hope your father's new system will help him stay comfortable as he fights this vicious battle.

Letter to Bill Ronayne:

Hi Bill - hope you are having a good summer.  Just wanted to drop a note to say thanks for the great work installing the new boiler and A/C at my parents place.  I had been checking on the work and was able to keep tabs on everything going on.  This was mainly due to the unfortunate and unexpected development that my dad recently became very ill with stage 4 lung cancer - which is the crux of my message here.  

Your guys were very understanding of his situation and were able to keep noise and disruptions to a minimum while he was home and resting - even lending a hand to my mom to help get him in the car for one of his treatments.  When I recommended you guys to my parents for your professionalism, I wasn't expecting it to extend to helping with the life changing moments our family is going through.

Thanks again, and I hope to catch up under better circumstances.

D.M. of West Chester

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Letter from the President: Home Heating Safety

As the days get noticeably shorter, our thoughts turn to children returning to school, fall sports and, especially for us at Brandywine Valley, the return of the heating season. As both vibrant leaves and temperatures fall, our minds naturally conjure up images of curling up with a cup of coca in a well heated home. While nothing is more inviting than the shelter of a warm home in the cold winter months, ensure that you are heating your home safely. I would like to join the National Fire Protection Association in reminding our customers that heater safety should not be taken lightly.

The most crucial step in exercising heater safety is to have your heating system and chimney cleaned and checked by a qualified professional. If you do not already have a trusted relationship with a heating contractor, visit the Air Conditioning Contractors of America website ( to locate one in your neighborhood. Always exercise caution in regards to advertisements featuring low-priced plans that may not allow the proper amount of time to perform a complete check of your system. While we would certainly prefer that you call us, that this service is performed by a qualified, trained, heating professional is more important than self-promotion. If you plan to use your fireplace or other wood burning equipment, contact a chimney professional to have your chimney inspected and cleaned. Looking to heat an individual room? Portable, electric, heaters can create a cozy space, but before plugging them in, inspect the cord to ensure it is not frayed. Furthermore, remind everyone in your home that the heater must be placed 3 feet away from any flammable items such as papers, clothes or furniture.

Central heating systems may seem like a worry-free method of evenly heating your home, but they can also be deadly if not properly maintained by a professional. Incomplete combustion or blocked furnace flues are just two of the many culprits that can produce carbon monoxide, a dangerous chemical compound whose reputation certainly precedes it. Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is poisonous to all warm-blooded animals, as well as many other forms of life. When inhaled, carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin in the blood, preventing absorption of oxygen and resulting in asphyxiation. Due to its odorless nature, carbon monoxide is an insidious poison. It produces only mild symptoms of headache, nausea, or fatigue, followed by unconsciousness. The catalysts for carbon monoxide production are often fast moving in nature; an automobile engine running in a closed garage and a leaking furnace flue can both make the air noxious within a few minutes. It is imperative to call a heating contractor for a heater cleaning and safety inspection. As the technician completes his inspection of your equipment, be sure to ask about the type of wall-mounted CO detectors they recommend. Heating contractors typically have higher quality, more reliable detectors then what is sold in home centers.

There is nothing more important than your family’s home comfort and safety. My message is not intended to generate anxiety or disrupt your peace of mind. In turn, my advice is offered in the hope that your family will enter these cooler months feeling secure and prepared to operate your heating equipment safely. I leave you with a final encouragement to detail an emergency plan for your family. Set the example by verifying that your heating system is safe to operate, posting emergency phone numbers by the phone or programming them into your cell phone, and making sure that you review these procedures with the entire family. On behalf of all of us at Brandywine Valley, I would like to wish you a safe and enjoyable season with a warm home and equally warm memories shared between family and friends.

Friday, September 5, 2014

There's More to Fall than Sniffles & Cough Drops: Fighting Allergies with IAQ

It’s almost that time of year again – when the office becomes a chorus of sniffles, when you send your kids off to school with more tissue packages than completed homework assignments, and when your home air fresheners might as well be Vick’s scented. If you’re one of the millions of seasonal allergy sufferers in America, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

Allergy suffers are plagued by a number of allergens, including mold, pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. These allergen particles are carried through the air and eventually settle onto your home’s furniture, floors, and other surfaces. The larger particles, such as pollen and dust mites, are the quickest to fall.

While seasonal allergies may seem as inevitable as death and taxes, there are several actions you can take to improve the indoor air quality in your home.

To reduce dust mites, keep surfaces clean and uncluttered. It’s wise to regularly wash sheets and pillow cases in hot water.  Furthermore, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends vacuuming at least once a week, preferably with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter or at least double filter bags to reduce dust production.  

If you have an allergy sufferer in your family, its best to keep doors and windows closed and properly sealed during pollen season. If the weather is warm, consider relying on A/C.

To reduce dust mite and mold growth, it is crucial to reduce humidity in your home. A humidity level of around 50% is ideal. For areas like a basement or crawl space, you may wish to install a dehumidifier.

As part of your routine heating and cooling maintenance, be sure to have your air filters changed regularly. The frequency at which the air filter needs to be changed varies based on your unit, but this action may be necessary as often as once a month during allergy season. For the highest performance, check your air filters MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. A MERV rating of 14-16 represents high efficiency.

HEPA filters may be used if recommended by a medical professional. However, these filters are not necessarily suitable for all homeowners and all units, as they may restrict airflow and can require more power usage from your HVAC equipment.

If you happen to notice a moldy, musty, or generally unpleasant smell from your vents, you may wish to have your ducts cleaned and inspected by a HVAC professional, as they may be harboring mold. 

If you find yourself considering replacing your aging or under-performing HVAC system, a solid option may be a unit that replaces indoor air with filtered outdoor air.

 For detailed information about unit replacement, dehumidifiers, air filters, duct cleaning, or routine maintenance, give Brandywine Valley a call at 610-692-3900. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Think Your HVAC Unit is the One Who Knocks?

If your HVAC unit is knocking, chances are it's not about to win an Emmy. A rattling, thumping, or banging sound could indicate a few potential problems with your unit.

The first culprit could be the fan blades. Open the AC cabinet to inspect the fan blades for any visible debris. Always be sure that power to the unit is disconnected before attempting to remove any debris. The source of the issue may also be a loose screw or a bent fan blade. For these issues, it's best to contact a service professional. (Hey, that's us!)

The underlying cause of a rattling or banging sound could also be an out of balance blower assembly or motor. A loose component, indicated by a rattling sound, requires an urgent repair before it results in a complete disconnect. If you are hearing a harsher banging sound, shut off the unit and contact a service professional, as this suggest a broken or disconnected component.

Believe it or not, winter is coming. If you hear these troubling sounds from your unit during the winter, check the outdoor fan blades on your heat pump for ice buildup.

For all of your heating and air conditioning needs, give Brandywine Valley a call at 610-692-3900!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Readers' Choice Awards Social Media Contest

At Brandywine Valley, we are proud to have been voted a Readers’ Choice Winner for the past 13 years!
We can’t thank our loyal customers enough for their constant support over the years. You truly are the best part of Brandywine Valley.

This year, when casting your vote for Brandywine Valley Heating & Air Conditioning as your favorite local HVAC Company, take a picture of your ballot or share the link to the online voting form on Facebook or Twitter. 

Tag Brandywine Valley Heating & Air Conditioning in your post on Facebook or tweet @BVHVAC and your name will be entered into a raffle for a customer appreciation gift basket! The basket features a gift card to the Painters Crossing Dine-in Theater, Brandywine Valley goodies, and more!

We look forward to seeing your posts! Creativity is recommended, selfies are encouraged.

Look for a ballot in your copy of the Daily Local News or vote online at the following link:

The polls are OPEN, vote now through September 19th!  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Rosetta Stone: HVAC Edition - 11 HVAC Terms Every Homeowner Should Know

Owning your own home is an incredible feat, and an equally impressive undertaking. We live in an age where there is almost always a service professional, or even an app, to meet your household needs. However, interacting with a service professional can often feel like trying to break down a language barrier, and HVAC is not immune to this technical jargon.

Here are 11 terms to have in your arsenal when your HVAC technician is throwing out acronyms more foreign than your kids' texting lingo:

1) AFUE: (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) This is a rating of how efficiently a gas furnace converts fuel to energy. For example, a rating of 90 indicates that 90% of the fuel is utilized to provide heat, while 10% is emitted as exhaust.

2) Air Handler: The indoor component of your split AC system or heat pump that includes the blower motor, blower, and controls. It moves air throughout your home. 

3) BTU: (British Thermal Unit) This is a measure of the heat given off when fuel is burned for heating, or the measure of heat extracted from your home for cooling. 
  • For all you science fiends out there, BTU represents the amount of energy required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. 
4) Charge: The amount of refrigerant in your AC system 

5) COP: (Coefficient of Performance) For a heat pump, this is determined by the ratio of heating or cooling provided to electrical energy consumed. 

6) Compressor: The part of the outdoor AC unit that maintains adequate pressure to allow refrigerant to flow in quantities that meet the cooling requirements of your home. The compressor sends refrigerant through condenser coils, which changes refrigerant from vapor to liquid, dispersing heat into the outdoor air. 

7) Heat Loss & Heat Gain: Heat loss refers to the estimate of heat lost to the outdoors through the structure of your home. Conversely, heat gain refers to the heat that comes into your home or is generated within the structure from occupants or solar gain. These estimates (determined in BTUs) factor into a load calculation, which our Comfort Consultants use to determine the capacity of heating or air conditioning equipment your home requires. 

8) MERV: This rating measures the efficiency of your air filter, as determined by the size of particle it can capture. The higher the MERV rating of your air filter, the finer it is. 

9) Refrigerant: This substance flows through your AC unit and helps with heat transfer. The transformation of refrigerant from liquid to vapor, or from vapor to liquid, respectively absorbs or gives off heat. 

10) Register: Metal covering on supply vents in your home

11) SEER: (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) This measures the cooling efficiency of a heat pump or air conditioner. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit. These ratings usually range from 13 to 20 SEER, although ratings of 21 or 22 are not uncommon. 

Don't worry, there won't be a test! Having a basic knowledge of these terms will help you play a more engaged role in the HVAC service or installation process. 

For all of your heating & cooling needs, gives Brandywine Valley a call at 610-692-3900.