Travel Safety Tips: Spring Break Edition!

Spring Break is coming up!

travel safety tips

Getting away. Typically a great thing. However, more often than not, the days leading up to travel can be stressful with additional tasks piling up with preparation for departure.

We’ve created a helpful checklist of travel safety tips to make sure you are prepared to have a worry-free and safe getaway:

  • Don’t bring all of your credit cards. Sort through your wallet and only bring very necessary items. Leave all of those store credit cards and other random club cards you carry around in your wallet at home. Pick up a smaller billfold so it’s not as cumbersome and obvious to carry around. Also, make sure to limit the amount of cash you have on you.
  • Make copies of important documents. If you’re traveling to another country, you will certainly want to make a copy of your passport. Bring copies of other important information as well, such as your flight and hotel reservations.
  • Call your bank. This is one we’ve probably all forgotten to do at least once. It can be a total pain, and slightly embarrassing, when your credit card gets declined, though, ultimately, we’re probably glad it does. Don’t forget to call the number on the back of your bank card to let them know when and where you will be traveling.
  • Unplug or switch off lights and appliances you aren’t using. Unplugging appliances that are not necessary to have in use, such as your entertainment center and your coffee pot, are great ways to prevent the possibility of an electrical fire while away, not to mention, this can save you some money on wasted vampire energy. If you’re a Zuli Smartplug user, our Smartplugs are actually able to cut off power supply to these appliances as well.
  • Check all your windows and any back or side doors. Make sure all potential entrances to your home are securely locked.
  • Schedule lights. Setting your lights to go on for certain hours of the night can create the illusion of you being home (even when you’re enjoying a mojito on some tropical beach watching the sunset.) This is a typical way for warding off potential burglars. However, do you remember that scene in Home Alone where Harry and Marv (the burglars) have learned who’s not home by determining what houses have the lights go on at the same time every night? Mix up the times and even which lights you automate. With the Zuli app scheduling feature, you can schedule your lights to go on at a different time every day you’re gone.
  • Have your heat set so your pipes don’t freeze. This is an important one if you live in below freezing climates. Most of those on the East Coast would agree. Make sure you have your heat set to a temperature to prevent your pipes from bursting. Definitely NOT something you will want to come home to.
  • Hand out your contact information. You probably don’t want to do this to everyone in your office, but make sure you give your flight number, hotel contact information, foreign mobile number (if applicable), etc. to a close relative or friend so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
  • Prepare medications. If you have any prescription drug needs, make sure you have enough to last you throughout your trip. You may want to take into account any potential delays in travel as well.  Additionally, remember that over-the-counter medications are not the same in other countries. If you are someone who relies on certain products from your local drug store, you may want to make sure you grab some travel sizes for your journey.

Hopefully, after you get these items squared away you will have a bit more peace of mind knowing that you have taken necessary travel safety tips to prepare for your trip.

Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating is the leading HVAC company in Anaheim and the surrounding area in Orange County. If you have any question please give us a call at (714) 978-7877. You can also visit us online on our WebsiteFacebook or Twitter.

Keep your family safe year-round

You want to protect your home, and the people and things within it, but a monthly home security system is outside your budget. Don’t worry, there are several inexpensive ways to make your home less attractive to thieves.

Stopping Everyday Home Burglaries

This graphic from the Washington Post reveals some surprising statistics about where thieves gain entry and how most burglaries work (click to expand):

Easy and Cheap Ways to Increase Your Home's Security Based on Burglars' Habits

The stats are from 2005, but still point to some notable trends about everyday house robberies and things you can do to prevent them:

Most burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Wikipedia also adds weekdays, and August being highest for burglary rates in the U.S.): Burglars look for homes that appear unoccupied, and residential homes, as you know, tend to be empty during those hours because people are at work. If you’re out of the house during those hours and are concerned about burglaries in your neighborhood, consider setting a random timer to turn the TV or radio on during those hours.

If you have a second car, keep it out in the driveway while you’re at work. Or, perhaps you can rent your driveway during the daytime (besides making your home less attractive to thieves, you can make a few extra bucks. Win!); previously mentioned Park Circa is one place you can find people looking for a parking spot in your neighborhood.

Do you use gardening services or other home maintenance services like window cleaning? Schedule those services (which don’t require you to be at home) during those prime theft hours.

The typical house burglar is a male teen in your neighborhood—not a professional thief and 60 seconds is the most burglars want to spend breaking into your home.This suggests you only need enough security to thwart the regular person. Simple things like the
“my scary dog can run faster than you” sign may be one of the most effective theft deterrents, other than—or in addition to—actually owning a scary dog. (Even a small dog prone to barking helps, though.) Regular “beware of dog” signs work too, especially if you add some additional supporting evidence of dog ownership, like leaving a dog bowl outside by your side door.

The Washington Post suggests deadbolt locks, bars on windows, and pins in sash windows may be effective theft deterrents. It goes without saying to make sure all the entry points are locked (but, still, 6% of burglaries happen that way).

Homes without security systems are about 3 times more likely to be broken into. In lieu of actually signing up for a home security system, you could also just buy the decals and signs off of eBay or elsewhere. Place the decals on your front door, where the majority of thieves enter.

In order of percent of burglaries, thieves come in through: the front door, first-floor windows, and back door primarily, followed by the garage, unlocked entrances, and the basement. Look at reinforcing all of these entry points, of course, but if you want to know where the best places are to put your security cameras, the front and back door and first floor windows are your best bets. Fake security cameras placed at those points might also be effective.

With your outside lighting, make sure those points of entry are well lit (motion-detector lights are inexpensive and don’t use a lot of energy) and clear of thief-hiding shrubbery.

An average of 8 to 12 minutes is all burglars spend in your home. If a thief does get into your house, you can prevent loss of your valuable objects by making them harder to find than within those 12 minutes. The dresser drawer, bedroom closet, and freezer are some of the first places thieves look, so forget about those hiding places. Instead, consider hiding things in plain sight.

Perhaps set up a red herring for possible thieves: Leave out an old laptop the thief can quickly grab and go. Even better: install Prey to track the stolen laptop.

Protecting Your Home When You’re on Vacation

We’ve previously noted several ways to protect your home while traveling, including using push lights in your windows and asking your neighbors for a vacation check. Not having your garbage cans put out as a sign that you’re away; make sure any help you get from friends or neighbors include the little stuff like that (putting out garbage cans, getting the mail, maybe even cutting the grass).

Don’t forget the daily stuff like stopping newspaper and mail delivery, if you don’t have someone picking those up for you.

And, of course, the tried-and-true method of looking like you’re home: use a random timer on your indoor lights or TV.

Those are just some of the inexpensive ways to make your home more secure and burglar-resistant. Got any tips of your own?

 

Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating is the leading HVAC company in Anaheim and the surrounding area in Orange County. If you have any question please give us a call at (714) 978-7877. You can also visit us online on our WebsiteFacebook or Twitter.

How to win Halloween this year!

images

Here are our top jokes this halloween!

Q: What do ghosts eat for supper?
A: Spooketi

Q: What do you do when 50 zombies surround your house?
A: Hope it’s Halloween!!

Q: What is the most important subject a witch learns in school?
A: Spelling.

Q: Why didn’t the skeleton want to go to school?
A: His heart wasn’t in it.

Q: Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road?
A: He didn’t have any guts!

Q: Why did the skeleton cross the road?
A: To get to the body shop.

Q: Why didn’t the skeleton go to the ball?
A: Because he had no BODY to go with.

Q: What did the little girl say when she had to choose between a tricycle and a candy bar?
A: “Trike or Treat”?

Q: What do you call a fat pumpkin?
A: A plumpkin.

Q: What room does a ghost not need?
A: A living room!

Q: Why are ghosts so bad at lying?
A: Because you can see right through them!

Q: Who did Frankenstein take to the dance?
A: His “ghoul” friend!

Q: Why is Superman’s costume so tight?
A: Because he wears a size “S”.

Q: What do ghosts use to wash their hair?
A: Shamboo!

Frankenstein: Witch can you make me a lemonade?
Witch: Poof you are a lemonade!

Q: What do you get when you cross a witch with sand?
A: A sandwich!

Q: What is a vampire’s favorite fruit?
A: A nectarine!

“Mommy, everyone says I look like a werewolf.”
“Please be quiet and comb your face.”

Q: What kind of dessert does a ghost like?
A: I scream!

Q: When is it bad luck to be followed by a black cat?
A: When you’re a mouse.

Q: What do birds say on Halloween?
A: Twick o tweet

Q: What do you get when you cross a Cocker Spaniel,
a Poodle and a ghost?
A: A cocker poodle boo.

Q: What do moms dress up as on Halloween?
A: Mummies!

Q: What is a ghost’s favorite fruit?
A: Booberries!

Q: What does a skeleton say before dinner?
A: Bone appetit!

Q: What does a witch use to keep her hair up?
A: Scarespray!

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
A: Frostbite.

Q: What kind of pants do ghosts wear?
A: Boo-Jeans.

Q: Why do ghosts make good cheerleaders?
A: Because they have a lot of spirit.

Q: What did one owl say to the other owl?
A: Happy Owl-ween!

Q: Why is a skeleton so mean?
A: He doesn’t have a heart.

Q: What goes around a haunted house and never stops?
A: A fence.

Q: What did the ghost say to the other ghost?
A: Do you believe in humans?

Q: What do vampires take when they are sick?
A: Coffin drops!

Q: What do you get when you cross a duck with a vampire?
A: Count Quackula!

Q: What is a ghost’s favorite pie?
A: Booberry pie!

Q: Where do ghosts buy their food?
A: At the ghost-ery store!

Are Energy Vampires sucking you dry?

vampire

To commemorate National Energy Action Month & Halloween, we’re featuring some scarily effective ways to save energy at home. As cooler weather lurks around the corner, tune in to energy.gov throughout the month of October for ways to save energy and money — and avoid cold weather terrors like energy vampires. We also put together these energy-themed pumpkin patterns to help “energize” your neighborhood for Halloween. 

This week, ghosts, ghouls and goblins will emerge to walk the streets and inspire scares. But while they’re out seeking sustenance (mostly in the form of fun-sized candy bars), an actual terror may already be in your home, leeching off your energy supply. Unlike the creatures commonly associated with Halloween, these “energy vampires” are all too real and all around you, running up your energy bill even when you’re not actively using them.

Take, for example, the seemingly innocuous cell phone charger. As cellphones have become a staple of modern life, so have the devices that power them. To ensure that they’re able to be in constant contact, many Americans carry chargers in their bags, have them in their cars and even their office. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise to find that many cell phone users have one or more chargers constantly plugged in at their home. What most people don’t realize is that these chargers are continually drawing power, even when no device is connected to them. In fact, the average charger is consuming .26 watts of energy when not in use, and 2.24 watts even when a fully charged device is connected to it.

By themseves, those watts won’t cause a huge increase in your energy bill. But if you add other common devices to the equation, you’ll begin to see why energy vampires are often responsible for adding 10 percent or more to your monthly utility bill.

Take a cable box. As HDTVs and digital cable have increased their market share, these devices have also skyrocketed in use — and they’re certainly having an impact on your energy bill. Even when they’re powered off, these devices consume an average of 17.83 watts. That means that even if you simply left your cable box plugged in for a year and never turned it off, it would add $17.83 to your electrical bill. Make that a cable box with DVR capabilities, which is an increasingly popular option, and your total more than doubles to $43.46.

With the average American household owning 25 consumer electronic devices, you can begin to see how these phantom loads can translate into a significant chunk of your energy bill. You don’t have to succumb, though, as there are several simple and convenient strategies that will help you drive a stake through these energy vampires:

  • Unplug devices you don’t use often. This probably won’t work for your cable box or clock radio, but if you have an extra TV, an old desktop computer or a stereo you only use from time to time, you should consider unplugging them completely until the next time you need to use them.
  • Use power strips. Power strips allow you to toggle the power flow on and off. This will allow you to control the power usage of clusters of devices so that they’re not consuming electricity when you’re not around. Using a light switch that turns power outlets on and off accomplishes the same end, if you have one in your home.
  • Curb idle time in devices such as computers and video game consoles. Simply setting your computer to sleep mode or saving a game and powering down instead of leaving it paused for a prolonged period can actually save more than $100 a year in many cases.
  • Make smart upgrades. When it comes time to send your old devices to the graveyard, you should also consider replacing them with ENERGY STAR devices. They have a lower standby consumption than your average device and generally use less energy in all their functions – a savings you should take into account when comparing similar products.

None of these strategies will eliminate your electric bill entirely, but together these tricks can help you slay energy vampires while saving money, a treat you can appreciate long after Halloween has passed.

Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating is the leading HVAC company in Anaheim and the surrounding area in Orange County. If you have any question please give us a call at (714) 978-7877. You can also visit us online on our WebsiteFacebook orTwitter.

The time is here! Replace that old, inefficient air conditioner!

Learning the signs that your air conditioner needs to be replaced will help prevent losing sleep in the middle of a summer heat wave. Some of the signs are obvious but many others are subtle. Here’s what to be on the watch for:

  • Inconsistent temperature – If you notice that some rooms are cooler than others while other rooms are not staying cool, you could have a malfunctioning air conditioner.
  • Age of the unit – Air conditioning systems typically have a lifetime of between 10 and 15 years. After that, you run the risk of frequent repairs and higher energy bills. A complete breakdown could be only a matter of time.
  • Frequent repairs – If your A/C unit breaks down more than once in the summer, that’s a sign you may that your air conditioned needs to be replaced. Air conditioners are designed to run for several months at a time with regular use. If it’s not doing the job, it’s time to weigh repair-replace pros and cons or call in an HVAC specialist to discuss replacement options.
  • Foul smell – If you notice a bad smell every time your air conditioner starts blowing, it’s possible that something internally has given out, such as the wire insulation. It could also indicate mold growth. In this case, it’s time to call an HVAC technician as soon as possible for a thorough inspection and possible replacement.
  • Little or no cooling – When your air conditioner no longer produces cool air, it either needs a major repair or should be replaced entirely. If it’s a window unit, replacement is the most economical option.
  • No power – If your central air conditioning unit won’t turn on and you’ve double-checked the power at the circuit breaker, it’s possible you could be looking at needing to buy a new system, especially if your unit is on the older side. Newer units are more energy-efficient and you’ll actually save money by investing in a new model.

Don’t wait until summer to have your air conditioning inspected. Call the experts at Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating for a seasonal checkup or annual maintenance plan. We’ve been helping Southern California area residents enjoy comfortable home environments for 30 years.

Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating is the leading HVAC company in Anaheim and the surrounding area in Orange County. If you have any question please give us a call at (714) 978-7877. You can also visit us online on our WebsiteFacebook orTwitter.

Hiring a Contractor: Why Bonded, Licensed and Insured is Important

Homeowners in the Southern California area want to feel secure that their chosen HVAC contractors can be trusted to perform excellent work. Hiring a licensed, bonded and insured contactor provides a comforting level of security to homeowners in the event that problems arise with the services received.

Understanding the difference between the levels of protection afforded by being licensed, bonded and insured can help homeowners make informed decisions.

Licenses
Licenses are issued by local or state governments as required by the law. A government licensing board typically issues a license only after a contractor has demonstrated competency through testing or passing an accredited program. Licensed HVAC contractors are required to renew their licenses regularly to ensure they continue to meet the minimum requirements for their field. Licensing requirements vary greatly between local governments and the various states.

Bonding
Bonding means that the contractor has purchased a surety bond that serves as protection for customers should there be issues with completion of the job. The surety bond compensates customers in the event of poor workmanship, incomplete work, or if the contractor neglects to pay for the required work permits or materials. In the event that a customer receives subpar or incomplete service, the customer can pursue the bonding company for compensation. Many licensing boards require that contractors are bonded before they can obtain licensing.

Insurance
Insurance held by a contractor serves two purposes. First, the insurance provides compensation should the customer’s home or property be damaged during the course of the job. Second, the insurance protects the contractor in case any of their workers are injured on the job. Hiring an uninsured contractor can result in a customer being responsible for paying for damages or injuries sustained while the contractor was on the job.

The experts at Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating Inc are fully licensed, bonded and insured, and offer air conditioning, and heating repair and replacement services to meet your needs. For additional information on our services, please contact us today.

Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating is the leading HVAC company in Anaheim and the surrounding area in Orange County. If you have any question please give us a call at (714) 978-7877. You can also visit us online on our Website, Facebook or Twitter.

 

HOW to hire the right handyman!

handymanFinding a good Handyman is kin to finding a good mechanic. Many things can go wrong with your car, same as with your house. A good Handyman can fix plumbing and electrical, he can build small additions, demo walls, paint, tile, and caulk. Before you just grab the first one you see, there are some steps to make sure who you have is who you want.
Before You Call:

  • Walk through your home and list the small repairs needed. Ex, dripping faucet, loose cabinet doors, faulty light switch, etc.
  • Get organized before you make the call. Keep a list of all repairs needed near the phone so you can give the repair person a good idea of the job size before they come to your home.
  • Make a list of other items of concern or ones you think might get worse.
  • Decide if you will be able to afford all the repairs at once or if you want them done in phases. If you want them in phases, prioritize what you want done first.

When Your Handyman Arrives:

  • Walk through your home and describe each of the repairs to the handyman.
  • Decide on an hourly, or per job rate. Realize that most firms front load the first hour.
  • Ask for references and examples of other jobs if you still aren’t sure about his work.

Read more: http://www.homeadvisor.com/article.show.Checklist-How-to-Hire-a-Handyman.10497.html#ixzz2ripwV5Kr

Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating is the leading HVAC company in Anaheim and the surrounding area in Orange County. If you have any question please give us a call at (714) 978-7877. You can also visit us online on our WebsiteFacebook orTwitter

Don’t think your furnace needs inspection, think again!

A The dots finally connected Sunday morning, when a screaming alarm woke an ill and wobbly-legged Mooresville family around 8:30.

The four repeating beeps identified what had made the Freshwaters sick for days.

Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas, was slowly poisoning Ted Freshwater, his wife, Jesi, and their three kids.

First it was headaches, Freshwater said. Then dizziness.

By Saturday morning, the two boys – 10-year-old Ashton and 6-year-old Nathan – had thrown up. Their sister, Alexis, had become so lightheaded that she had to sit on the bathroom floor where she passed out, she later told her father.

The next morning, the alarm sounded, emergency personnel swarmed the house and four family members went to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center. Sixteen-year-old Alexis, who had spent the night at a friend’s house, was not home at the time.

All four had elevated levels of the deadly gas in their blood and were released after a few hours, Freshwater said.

“Everything didn’t really point back to (carbon monoxide) until after the fact, unfortunately,” he said.

After the fact almost didn’t happen.

For days, family members tried to understand why they were sick and achy. Perhaps it was the flu. Maybe it was food poisoning.

Freshwater, 38, never thought about carbon monoxide. Still, he decided to check the home’s alarm Saturday night – the first time he checked it since the family moved from Ohio more than three years ago.

A battery was put in backward. He replaced them.

The next morning the alarm, situated about 10 feet from the home’s furnace room, sounded.

Freshwater said he rolled out of bed a little disoriented and weak-legged. A 911 dispatcher told the family to evacuate.

“With the batteries being incorrect, who knows, it could have been like this since we’ve been here,” said Freshwater, adding he felt better Monday than he has in months.

He said inspectors found a crack in an internal part of the furnace Monday afternoon and would replace the unit later this week. It’s unclear when the crack appeared.

On Tuesday, Freshwater said the landlord asked that the family move out by the end of February. The family had been renting the home month-to-month. Freshwater said he didn’t know if the leak had something to do with the request to move.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 150 people a year die from non-fire related accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Last year, three people died over a two-month period in a Boone hotel room when the gas leaked up from an improperly ventilated pool heater. It wasn’t until after an 11-year-old Rock Hill boy died that officials discovered carbon monoxide had killed the guests.

Cars, generators and fossil-fuel burning appliances, such as furnaces, stoves and water heaters, can leak carbon monoxide.

Gary Styers, Mooresville fire marshal, said the town sees an increase in the gas-related calls during the winter as residents heat their homes.

“Obviously there’s no odor, no color,” Styers said. “There’s no way of knowing carbon monoxide is in the home unless you have a detector.”

Last month, Mooresville Fire-Rescue partnered with BRK Brands, an Illinois home-protection company, to give away 100 carbon monoxide alarms to town residents.

Curt Deaton, Mooresville fire chief, said the department has dished out fewer than 10 so far. He said firefighters would give them out on a first come, first served basis.

According to N.C. statute, carbon monoxide alarms must be in all rented homes and any new residence with a fossil-fuel burning heater, appliance, fire place or an attached garage.

Most alarms cost between $30 and $40.

“(Carbon monoxide is) not something that people normally think of,” Deaton said. “It’s kind of a second thought.”

Freshwater said he’s checked the batteries several times in his home’s smoke detector but had never bothered to look at them in the carbon monoxide alarm hanging just inches away.

Now he’s urging everyone to do it.

“A matter of a couple dollars in batteries could have cost my family their lives,” he said.

{{Article Source: The Charlotte Observer click to view original article}}

 

Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating is the leading HVAC company in Anaheim and the surrounding area in Orange County. If you have any question please give us a call at (714) 978-7877. You can also visit us online on our WebsiteFacebook orTwitter

Why Proper Heating Installation is ESSENTIAL

For homeowners in Southern California, heating installation can be a significant investment. A new heating system not only provides warmth and comfort for your family, but can significantly improve the resale value of your home. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may want to consider installing a new heater yourself, or hiring someone on the cheap to do it for you. This would be a huge mistake. Here’s why a professional heating installation in Southern California is ESSENTIAL to a reliable and efficient heater.

In the first place, there’s basic know-how. Professional technicians install dozens if not hundreds of new heating systems every year. Your average homeowner has probably done so once or twice at the most. That means the professional has a better working knowledge of a wide variety of heaters, and can respond confidently whenever any problems arise. He or she knows how to set the furnace on a strong foundation, connect any lines to your gas or electric system, and test the furnace to make sure it’s functioning properly. He or she can also discuss alternative furnace options with you – like heat pumps and ductless mini-split systems – as well as determining equally important concerns such as the proper size of the heater for your household.

That goes hand-in-hand with the question of costs and peace of mind during your installation. The main purpose for doing it yourself is saving money. An installation, however, likely means the purchase of tools and equipment you might not use for any other operation. It also means acquiring all of the licenses and forms needed to install a new heater, and wrangling some method of carting your old heater away. If something goes wrong with the installation, it’s on you to correct it and if you don’t install the heater properly, the lost efficiency can cost you a great deal in wasted energy. A professional can avoid those costs, while alleviating you of the worry and time that comes from doing it yourself.

Professional heating installation service in Southern California is essential, which means you should call on the very best. Heating installation is the purveyance of Airwest Air Conditioning and Heating, which has faithfully served Orange County and the surrounding areas for 30 years.

Call us to discuss your installation options today. (714) 978-7877 or Request a FREE Install Estimate HERE