Flame Blog

Heating season is just around the corner, and that means it is time to get ready for it.  One of the best things you can do is schedule a furnace inspection, but the next best thing is to make sure that your furnace has a clean furnace filter.  Forced air heating and cooling systems share the same filter, so you should have been keeping up with filter maintenance over the summer, but in case you haven’t been, be sure to start out with a clean one this fall.

There are many different kinds furnace filters.  Disposable filters can simply be thrown away and replaced by purchasing a new one at a hardware store.  Reusable filters can be cleaned with a hose.  But, how do you actually get to your furnace filter and clean it?  East! Follow these five steps:

  1. Turn off the furnace- from the main circuit breaker or the service panel on the furnace
  2. The filter can often be found near the blower, and it is a square/rectangle type mesh device.  You will recognize it when you see it
  3. Remove the filter from the furnace
  4. Now it is time to either throw it out, or wash it.  (This is somewhat like pulling the “lint catcher” out of the dryer, just a little bigger and messier).  Be sure to check what kind you have before throwing it away!
  5. Either wash the filter and put it back when it is dry or go purchase a new one!  If you are buying a new one, don’t forget to measure the old one, so you know what size to get.

This task may sound overwhelming at first, but as you can see, it is actually quite easy.  You should clean or replace your filter every few months.  However, if you have any other questions regarding it- do not hesitate to contact Flame.  We are happy to help with all of your residential heating and cooling needs.

Ice. Snow. Cold.  These words may make you cringe and once again wish that you had moved to Florida.  Unfortunately, winter weather will again be coming to Southeastern Michigan.  Thankfully, we still have a little while to go, but the Old Farmer’s Almanac already has some predictions about this upcoming winter in the lower Great Lakes region:

“Winter will be warmer than normal, with slightly above-normal precipitation. The coldest periods will be in early to mid-December, early January, and mid-February. Snowfall will be above normal in Ohio and below normal elsewhere, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-December, late December, early January, and early February.” (2018 Long Range Weather Forecast for Detroit, MI)

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been around since 1792, and its predictions are 80% accurate.  Some people may breathe a sigh of relief to see that winter may be warmer this year, but note that the cold parts of winter are going to be fairly early on, in December.  This means that you want to make sure your furnace is ready to go at the beginning of the heating season because you do not want any heating issues while entertaining family over the holidays!

Whether or not you trust these predictions, we know that fall and winter are just around the corner, and that means cold winter weather.  For more information about getting your residential heating ready for this winter, contact Flame!

 

You’ve probably heard the recommendation that your furnace should be inspected annually.  Furnace inspections make sure that your heating unit is running safely and efficiently, and they help you to catch small problems before they become big ones.  So when is the best time to have a furnace inspection?

Early fall before heating season truly begins.

When the calendar flips to August, it seems that fall is suddenly racing toward us.  Clothing stores are shouting about their “back to school” sales and specials, and soon you will be able to spot pumpkins and possibly a Christmas tree in the window of a department store.  Even though August in Michigan is still filled with hot and muggy days, it is the month to think ahead to and prepare for fall.  Buying school supplies and making sure your children have clothes that fit for the upcoming year is important, but it is also equally important to make sure that your home’s furnace is operating smoothly before the temperatures drop.  So, once you flip the calendar to August, you should think about getting on the phone with your heating and cooling company.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, Detroit typically sees its first frost of the season around October 17.  That is right around the corner.  Typically, once school starts families become very busy.  You don’t want to find out about any furnace problems when it is already cold outside- you don’t have time for that!  Scheduling a furnace inspection by a qualified HVAC professional for August or September ensures that your heating system should be ready to go when you need it.  Plus, scheduling early helps you pick a date and time that is most convenient for you and your family.

Contact Flame if you would like to schedule your residential furnace inspection, or if you would like to learn more about what it entails.

 

Do you cringe when you receive your electric bills in the mail during the summer?  Or dread opening up that email from your utility company?  During the summer, many of our energy bills go through the roof thanks to high temperatures and cranking up the air conditioner.  We all know that not using the air conditioner is the easiest way to save money, but some days it is just too hot to keep the A/C off.  The next best thing is to make sure that the thermostat is set to a temperature that will cool you off and still help you save.  So, what is the best thermostat setting during the summer months?

The US Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer while at home, and turning it even warmer while you are away.  According to them, “The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.”

If 78 degrees is just too warm for you, don’t sweat it too much.  Even setting your thermostat up just a few degrees can help you save.  You can make these adjustments manually throughout the day, or you can invest in a programmable thermostat.  With a programmable thermostat, you create a program to suit your family’s heating, cooling, and energy saving needs.  Once the program is set, the thermostat will automatically make the adjustments, which means you won’t accidentally forget!

So, what are you waiting for?  The recommended thermostat setting is 78 degrees- got turn yours up an start saving.

If you would like to learn more about programmable thermostats or other ways to save energy, contact Flame!

 

Do you find thunderstorms to be scary? Or exciting?  Some people love hearing the crack of thunder, while others would rather never hear it.  Whether you are a storm lover, or someone who wishes storms would never happen, it always smart to be prepared for severe weather in your home.

Thunderstorms can have serious consequences.  High winds can result in downed power lines and power outages as well as other damage from fallen tree limbs.  Here are a few tips to help make sure your family stays happy, healthy, and safe during Michigan’s next severe thunderstorm:

Create an Emergency Kit- Include flashlights, extra batteries, first aid kid, candles and matches, bottled water, non perishable foods, a battery powered crank radio, blankets, toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, diapers, etc…), books and board games, and cash (10 Must-haves in a Storm Survival Kit, How Stuff Works).

DTE suggests including your kids when assembling the kit.  This can help to ease their fears, and it will also enable them to be prepared and helpful if a severe storm should strike.

Be Aware of the Danger of Downed Power Lines- Even after the storm passes, danger can still linger.  Power lines that get knocked down from high winds or fallen branches can still be on the streets or in your yard.  DTE recommends staying at least 20 feet away from a downed power line and any puddles or pools of water it may be near.  If you have young children and pets, please be very careful that they heed this advice as well.

Invest in an Automatic Generator-  One of the best ways to smoothly sail through a thunderstorm is with the help of an automatic generator.  These generators automatically switch on as soon as they sense a power outage.  You may not even realize that the power went out.  Unlike portable generators, automatic generators are hooked to your natural gas line do not need to be constantly refilled with gas.

An automatic generator does not mean you should not take other safety precautions when preparing for severe weather.  Please, still head to a safe place in your home with your family, such as the basement or a room with no windows, and it is a good idea to have an emergency kit on hand- just in case.

For more information about residential generators, contact Flame!

We all know that making energy efficient improvements saves us money, but have you wondered just how much money?  Are those energy efficient changes really  worth it?  Sometimes it can seem like making all of those changes is a lot of hassle for possibly not very much savings.

The U.S. Department of Energy at Energy.gov has figured this out for us in their article, “How Much Can You REALLY Save with Energy Efficient Improvements?”  The good news is that making some very simple and easy energy efficiency improvements really does result in significant savings.

Energy.gov gives some examples with real numbers to show what type of savings you can expect with certain improvements.  For example:

Replace your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR models to save $75 per year

Save up to 10% each year on heating and cooling bills by turning back the thermostat 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day.

Fix leaky faucets to save $35 and 1,661 gallons of water. (Energy.gov)

These examples are all subject to change based on the home, climate, and other factors.

If you would like to learn more about what other improvements can save you, check out the full list here. Interested in a full home energy audit?  Contact Flame!

Cooking in the summer can be a challenge.  Many of us would rather spend the long hours of daylight soaking up the sunshine and watching kids play outside than put together dinner.  Plus, when it is hot out, turning on the oven or the stove is NOT desirable.  Not only is it unpleasant to cook over a hot stove or have a warm oven on, but these devices really do bring up your home’s temperature, which means your air conditioner has to work even harder to keep your home cool.  At Flame, we want to help you keep your home cool, save money, and still eat some yummy dinners this summer.  Therefore, here is a round-up of eight recipes you can make without ever turning on your oven or stove:

Grilling

Grilling is a summertime staple, and it is a great way to cook up some meat without overheating your kitchen.  Traditional hot dogs and hamburgers are always good, but here are a few other recipes to try out.

Fajita Chicken Kebabs (Well Plated)

Kebabs are an easy convenient way to enjoy a yummy meal while still playing around outside. Some may choose to use utensils to eat them, but you don’t have to!

Grilled Pizza (The Pioneer Woman)

Of course, ordering pizza is another way to keep that oven off during the summer, but if you love delicious homemade pizza, try out this.

Tabasco Grilled Veggie Skewers (Country Cleaver)

Yes, you can still get your daily intake of veggies by cooking on the grill.

Check out Country Living’s 50+ Grilling Recipes for an Epic Summer Cookout for more inspiration.

Salads

Salads are an obvious choice when we think of meals without the stove or oven, but they can be more exciting than just some lettuce and dressing.

Grilled Caesar Salad Flatbread (Woman’s Day)

Yummy bread and a hearty salad?  Sign us up!

No-Cook BLT Salad (Cooking Light)

The iconic flavors of a bacon, lettuce, and tomato are loved by most.  With salami substituting for bacon, in this salad, you can enjoy a BLT without turning on the oven or stove to fry up bacon.

Other

White Bean and Radish Tacos (Amie Valpone, TheHealthyApple.com)

This recipe is a twist on the traditional taco, but it still provides protein and a satisfying crunch!

Hummus Stuffed Bell Peppers (Amie Valpone, TheHealthyApple.com

Love stuffed peppers, but hate all of the steps?  Try this easy summer version.

Smoothies

Smoothies might not be exactly what you had in mind for dinner, but a cold and creamy smoothie can be a perfect breakfast or lunch.  Break out your blender and enjoy!  Here are some smoothie ideas from the blog, Peanut Butter Fingers to get your creative juices flowing.

Would you like to learn more ways to stay cool and keep your home running efficiently this summer? Learn about our residential cooling services or Contact Flame!

Saving water is good for the environment, and it is good for our wallets.  A cheaper water bill would make most people happy.  We have heard some of the typical ways to save water: take shorter showers and turn off the sink while brushing your teeth, but we figured there must be some more creative ways out there. So, after some research, here are unique ways to save water in your home:

  1. Water your plants with leftover drinking water (7 Weird Ways to Save Water, National Geographic Blogs). Do you have the problem in your home where, at the end of the day, there are half empty cups and bottles filled with water strewed all over the house?  Instead of dumping that water down the sink, use it to water your plants.
  2. Use Pandora to time your showers (7 Weird Ways to Save Water, National Geographic Blogs).  Make taking shorter showers a little more fun by timing them with music you like.
  3. Collect bath water in your cooking pots (9 Creative Ways to Save on Water, Don’t Waste the Crumbs) “Before you think I’ve gone crazy carrying pots all over my house, hear me out. Think about how often you cook on the stove with water… pretty often, right? And you typically fill up your pots with water from the sink, right?

    So what if you filled up your pots with water from the bathtub instead? I mean, you’re going to take a shower, right? And that water needs to go somewhere, right? So why not just skip a step and fill up a pot from the get go?”

  4. Turn off the hot water to the bathroom sinks (9 Creative Ways to Save on Water, Don’t Waste the Crumbs). You will take much less time and use much less water washing your face with cold water!
  5. Don’t use running water to thaw food. (100+ Ways to Conserve Water, Water Use It Wisely) “For water efficiency and food safety, defrost food in the refrigerator.”

One of the most important things you can do is keep up with your plumbing maintenance.  When leaks happen, get them fixed immediately.  Also, depending on the age of your plumbing, there may be more energy efficiency versions out there, such as low flow shower heads.  For more information about saving water or our residential plumbing services, contact Flame! Happy saving!

Spending days outside during the summer is wonderful, but when the temperatures are hot, those sun soaked days are no longer so enjoyable.  The easiest way to stay cool is to just stay at home in your air conditioning, but if you have young children on summer vacation, you know that’s not going to cut it.  Here are a three ways you can stay cool and have fun on those too hot days in metro Detroit.

Visit a Splash Pad-Splash pads are popping up everywhere!  These fun water playgrounds are great for kids that may not be strong swimmers yet, and even older kids enjoy darting in out of jet streams.  The Detroit Moms Blog has a list  of great splash pads throughout metro Detroit.  They list splash pads by country and include, Mt. Elliot Park in Detroit, Heritage Park Splash Pad in Farmington Hills, and City Square Park in Warren.  Click on the link below to see all of their recommendations as well as information about cost and hours. Metro Detroit Splash Pads.

Head to the Lake-If you have access to a boat to get out on Lake St. Clair- great!  There’s nothing like cannonballing into a cold lake when it is 95 degrees out.  If you don’t have a way to motor or paddle to the middle of the lake, we recommend the Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township.  This park is right along the shoreline of Lake St. Clair, and it includes a beach and pool. Lake St. Clair Metropark.

Catch a movie-Sitting in a cool movie theater while the temperatures blaze outside screams summer.  This is a great way to get out of the house but still enjoy to comforts of air conditioning.  MetroParent Daily has a list of some of the best movie theaters in Southeast Michigan:  Top Movie Theaters in Southeast Michigan.

When the days are really hot, staying cool isn’t just about comfort-it is also important for the safety of your family.  Young children are especially susceptible to heat.  If you are having trouble with your home’s cooling system, do not hesitate to contact Flame!

 

Did you know that natural gas doesn’t actually have a smell?  Most gas companies add a chemical to give it that rotten eggs type smell.  They do this because gas leaks are very serious, and they want you to be aware when one happens.  Most likely, in your home, you have at least one appliance that is connected to a natural gas line.  Your oven, grill, or hot water heater might be, and if you have a forced air furnace, it definitely is.  Natural gas leaks can be extremely dangerous, and they are considered to be an emergency situation.  That is why if you smell gas in your home it is important to follow these steps from DTE:

  1. Leave the area at once.  If inside, open doors and windows on the way out.
  2. Go to an outside location where you can no longer smell natural gas.
  3. Call our natural gas hotline at 800.947.5000 to report the situation. Or, call your gas provider’s natural gas hotline.

DTE also offers a list of things you should NOT do if you suspect a gas leak:

  • Use matches or lighters. Avoid all open flames.
  • Use any electrical device, including appliances, doorbells and garage door openers.
  • Use any phones, including cellular phones.
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Try to locate the source of the natural gas leak.
  • Re-enter the building or return to the area until DTE Gas tells you it’s safe to (DTE)

According to Healthline, one of the dangers of a gas leak is that affects the amount of oxygen there is available to breathe.  Exposure to gas could leak to some of the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • eye and throat irritation
  • fatigue
  • breathing problems
  • pale skin or blisters, which only occur if skin comes in contact with compressed or liquid gas (Healthline, What Symptoms Can a Gas Leak Cause?)

If you suspect a gas leak in your own home or business, be sure to follow these steps without hesitating.  After a professional has come to handle the leak, it may be necessary to contact Flame to do a thorough inspection on your furnace or to complete necessary repairs.  For more information about

2200 East 11 Mile Road Warren, MI 48091

586-582-1700
888-234-2340

info@flamefurnace.com

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