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Archive for November, 2013

The History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Thanksgiving began in 1621, but didn’t become a national tradition until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln declared it as such in hopes of bringing a divided nation together. We have many Thanksgiving traditions in this country, from turkey as the meal to the annual Cowboys and Lions games on television. But one of the most beloved is the annual Presidential turkey pardon, in which the U.S. President “pardons” a turkey, allowing them to live the remainder of their live freely roaming on farmland. As we celebrate this Thanksgiving, we thought you’d like to know a little more about the history of this fascinating tradition.

Farmers have sent turkeys to the White House as far back as the 1800s, hoping to have the honor of providing the President’s annual meal. There have been scattered stories of individual turkeys being “pardoned” throughout that time, including one in which President Lincoln’s son Tad successfully convinced the president to spare a bird intended for the family’s Christmas dinner.

Starting in 1947, the National Turkey Federation became the official supplier of the President’s Thanksgiving birds. The White House arranged for an annual photo op that year with the President receiving the turkey in the Rose Garden. Sadly, there was no pardon as yet; those birds all ended up on the Presidential table.

The push for an official pardon picked up steam in 1963, when President Kennedy asked that the bird be spared, just a few days before his assassination. President Nixon opted to send each of the birds he received to a nearby petting zoo after the photo op, though there was no formal pardon attached.

But it wasn’t until 1989 that the pardon became official. On November 14 of that year, President George H. W. Bush made the announcement, and sent the bird to a Virginia game preserve to live the rest of its life out in cranberry-and-stuffing-free bliss. Since then, every President has held an annual pardoning ceremony, with the lucky turkey spared the axe and sent off to live in peace. Since 2005, the pardoned birds have gone to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, where they have lived as part of a petting zoo exhibit in Frontierland.

No matter what traditions you enjoy this holiday, or who you enjoy them with, all of us here wish you a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving weekend.

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What Are the Advantages of a Furnace when Compared to a Boiler?

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Are you stuck now between two choices for your home heating? Has it come down to either a furnace or a boiler? It’s a tough decision to make, we’ll admit that. Both types have heated homes for over a hundred years (and furnaces much longer than that) and remain popular to this day because of technological advances that keep them competitive.

The choice shouldn’t drive you into a straitjacket however—if you have the assistance of professionals in HVAC installation. Switzerland Air can help you make the right selection of heater for your home. And whether you go for a boiler or a furnace in Angleton, TX, we can handle the installation so you get the most from your new system.

Furnace Advantages

If you’ve done some research into the “furnace-or-boiler?” question, you may find yourself already leaning toward the boiler because of its quiet operation, low repair needs, and long service life. Boilers do offer all of these, but don’t count out furnaces yet. Here are some of a furnace’s advantages:

Flexibility: Furnaces come in many different models and sizes that can run from a variety of fuel types. It’s rare that we can’t find a furnace that will ideally suit a home. No matter how you get power for your house, there’s probably a furnace that will work for it.

Hook to existing ducts: Boilers don’t use ductwork to circulate heat, which means they provide cleaner warmth. However, if your home already has ductwork installed, then you can hook a new furnace up easily without the need to install extra pipes, radiators, and baseboard heaters for a boiler.

Smaller size: Part of a furnace’s flexibility is how small most of the units—even the powerful ones—are. Boilers require large tanks of hot water, while furnaces take up much less space.

Faster heating: Because boilers need to heat up a full water tank each time you need warmth, it can take them a while before they start providing comfort. Furnaces, on the other hand, work almost immediately at bringing you heat as soon as they come on.

Make the right choice with expert assistance

Every home has different needs for heating. The question of “furnace-or-boiler?” can only be effectively answered with the help from people trained to figure out your home’s heating requirements. Contact Switzerland Air today to get started with finding out if a furnace in Angleton, TX will help you through the coming winter.

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Are Heat Pumps Safer than Furnaces?

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

If you’re interested in getting either a furnace or a heat pump in Brazoria, TX to keep you warm this winter, you might wonder if there’s a safety issue that will tilt the choice in the direction of the heat pump. The reason you may think this is because furnaces conjure up in people’s minds the image of open flames and potential gas-leak dangers. We’ll try to get to the root of the “heat pump vs. furnace” quandary in this post.

We need to state up front that any heating system can pose hazards if you 1) allow it go without proper maintenance for too long, or 2) attempt to do major repairs and inspections on it without proper training or equipment. Regardless of the safety advantages of one system or the other, you can reduce the danger with proper care and reliance on professionals. A company like Switzerland Air can provide you long-term maintenance and short-term emergency repair services that will suit your needs.

Heat pumps do present fewer safety issues

Heat pumps do not burn fuel the way that gas or propane furnaces do. Since heat pumps move heat from one place to another, they have no need to burn fuel to produce heat. Instead, they rely on electricity to move heat—and not a large amount of electricity, either. This means they also have fewer safety concerns than electric furnaces, which use high-voltage currents.

So in general, a heat pump offers little danger from electricity and no danger at all from natural gas or propane byproducts.

Furnaces shouldn’t be discounted for this reason alone

However, we need to stress that modern furnaces are built to operate within narrow safety regulations: they rarely present any serious hazards as long as they receive the proper care. And they may offer the superior option for heating for your home. Heat pumps work well as air conditioners no matter what the outdoor conditions are, but they can suffer trouble with heating when the temperature starts to drop to extreme lows. Although freezing winters are rare here, you should consult with an expert on home heating to learn if a furnace will take care of your needs better than a heat pump.

Regular maintenance is the key

Whatever system you decide to go with in the end, make certain that it receives the upkeep and care that will keep it both safe and efficient. Heat pumps do have a safety advantage over the furnace, but with regular maintenance, a furnace will close the distance between them.

If you need installation, maintenance, or repair for a furnace or heat pump in Brazoria, TX, contact Switzerland Air today.

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What Should I Expect with My New Boiler?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Boilers are among the best options for getting quality and energy-efficient heat for your home. Although boilers rarely “boil” anything any more (the earliest models boiled water to create steam, which was where they got their name), they have advanced with the times to remain popular across the country for keeping back the winter weather.

What makes boilers such perennials in the HVAC world? The best way to explain is to tell you what exactly you can expect when you get a new boiler installation in Brazoria, TX. Contact Switzerland Air when you’re interested in getting a new boiler; heating services are a specialty of ours and we can help guide your through the process from picking the unit to installing and maintaining it.

Fewer repairs

Because boiler have only a small number moving parts, unlike furnaces, they do not suffer as much of the wear and tear that will eventually require repairs. You can expect to spend much less getting your boiler serviced than you would with other systems.

An extended lifespan

At the moment, there are few heaters that can match a boiler for longevity. If you take care of the few repair needs that will crop up, and enroll in a regular maintenance program that will keep your heating system operating in top shape, you can expect a boiler to last for many years. Most boilers exceed their estimated lifespan—provided they receive excellent, professional care.

Clean heating

It’s something that people often don’t consider, but getting warmth from a forced-air system like a furnace can have a potentially negative effect on air quality. Ductwork naturally picks up dust and dirt, which a furnace’s fans will then blow into your home. But boilers do not use air or any kind of ducts to provide heat. They use hydronic power—hot water circulated through pipes to end points like floorboards and radiators—to provide warmth. You can expect cleaner air (which is especially important if there are people in your house with allergies) from your new boiler.

Keep in mind that boilers may not be perfect for every home. It’s always best to seek the advice of HVAC professional before you make a choice about a new home heating system. The professionals will calculate how much heat your home needs and find the right system at the right size to give you quality warmth throughout the winter.

When you think it’s time for a boiler installation in your Brazoria, TX home, contact the NATE-certified technicians at Switzerland Air.

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How Does a Heat Pump Heat My Home?

Friday, November 1st, 2013

It’s often difficult to explain to homeowners how something called a heat pump can provide them with cool air during the summer. We don’t run into the same initial confusion when talking about heat pumps providing heat for homes. However, people remain curious about these devices that can function as air conditioners one day, and switch over to function as heaters the next day. If a heat pump can cool down your home so effectively, how can it also heat it?

We’ll answer that question in this post. If you have further questions about heat pumps, or if you need repairs on the heat pump in your home, contact Switzerland Air. We serve Clute, TX with heat pump installation, repair, and maintenance.

How a heat pump brings you heat

Explaining how a heat pump warms your home actually requires first explaining how an air conditioner cools down your home. Because a heat pump basically is an air conditioner—except it can reverse the direction in which it moves heat.

An air conditioner works through “heat exchange”: it shifts heat from inside your home and moves it outside. Refrigerant moves through a closed loop inside the AC, starting first in a compressor as a hot gas that moves to an outdoor condenser unit. There it releases heat and moves indoors to an evaporator coil, where it absorbs heat from the indoor air, giving people a sense of cooling. The refrigerant then returns to the compressor where the process starts again.

A heat pump uses this identical operation, except it includes an extra compressor and a reversing valve to move the refrigerant in the opposite direction. In this case, the refrigerant starts in the second compressor and goes to the indoor coil. Now the indoor coil acts as the condenser, releasing heat indoors. The cooled down refrigerant moves to the outdoor coil, which now acts as the evaporator, absorbing heat from outdoors before moving back to the compressor.

Heat pumps works especially well in places with mild winters, since they often struggle removing heat from the outdoors when the temperature dips below freezing. Heat pumps are ideal for Texas temperatures, so we often suggest them to our clients as “two-in-one” solutions for the summer and winter. Heat pumps also have high energy efficiency: the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a heat pump will save the average household 30%-40% on its heating bill each year.

Heat pumps won’t work for every home, so make sure you get professional advice when you’re thinking about having one installed. Switzerland Air offers a 100% guarantee on all the work we do, so if you are interested in a heat pump in Clute, TX for the coming year, you’ll feel secure hiring us to take care of the installation.

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