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Global and domestic factors cause energy prices to fluctuate.

oil prices Windham County, ct Energy markets are always unpredictable, but they’ve been more volatile than normal in the last few years. You’ve undoubtedly noticed price spikes on your monthly electric bill and at the gas pump. It’s sensible to wonder if there’s any rhyme or reason to fuel pricing.

For Tolland, Hartford and Windham County households that receive heating oil delivery from Homestead Comfort, we work daily to get you the best possible price for your fuel. Let’s discuss some of the factors that affect heating oil prices.

What is heating oil?

To make sense of heating oil prices, let’s first discuss what this product is. Heating oil is a distillate of crude oil. It’s essentially identical to off-road diesel fuel. Heating oil is denser than gasoline. The burner in your furnace or boiler must mist it and heat it to an extremely high temperature for combustion.
The fuel we deliver is ultra-low-sulfur and contains 20 percent eco-friendly biodiesel. It’s called Bioheat® fuel, and it has better greenhouse gas performance than natural gas!

What affects heating oil prices in eastern Connecticut?

Here are some of the main variables that can make heating oil prices rise and fall:

Homestead Comfort helps you save money on heating oil.

Please know that we want heating oil prices to stay low, just like you. We don’t make more money when prices increase, just like your local grocery doesn’t profit when coffee costs more.

We also have many pricing and payment programs that can stabilize your bills and even save you money. Here are a few offers you can take advantage of today!

  1. Automatic Delivery — Not only will this no-fee service free you from runout risks, but we also offer you a discount on your first 500 gallons!
  2. Monthly Budget Plan — Heating oil costs tend to go up steeply in the winter, but not if you have the free plan. We spread your annual fuel expenses across 12 months, cutting your winter bills virtually in half.
  3. PreBuy — Stop worrying about ups and downs in energy markets. We’ll let you lock in your rate by pre-purchasing your fuel before the heating season.
  4. Price Cap — This program limits how high your per-gallon price can go — but not how low. We set an agreed-upon cap price for your heating oil, and if the market rate drops below the cap, you pay the lower rate.

Reach out to Homestead Comfort now to see how you can enroll in these heating oil programs.

More about What Determines Residential Heating Oil Prices?

Homestead Comfort can install a water treatment system in your home.

hard water Hartford, ct As many as 90 percent of American homes have hard water. If your home is dealing with excessive minerals in your tap water, it could impact your home appliances, clothes, dishes and even your family’s health.

Homestead Comfort’s >water services team has dealt with many hard water situations in homes in Manchester, Glastonbury and Hebron and other northern Connecticut communities. We know what to look for and how to combat the problem effectively.

What is hard water?

Measuring hardness in water means determining how much dissolved calcium and magnesium is in it. Hard water has over 60 milligrams per liter of these minerals. (Very hard water has 121 milligrams per liter or more.)

These minerals can build up in pipes and fixtures. They can affect how well soap cleans your hands, body, clothes and dishes, and they can make foods and beverages taste strange.

How can you tell if you have hard water?

Here are eight warning signs that your home might have hard water.

  1. “Soap scum” and other scale deposits — Look at your kitchen and bathroom fixtures and see if these deposits are present.
  2. White spots on glassware, silverware and appliances — In particular, you should check your coffee maker.
  3. Faded clothing — Calcium and magnesium can take a toll on fabrics.
  4. Lingering stains after washing clothes — Conversely, hard water makes laundry detergent less effective.
  5. More sediment in your water heater, boiler or other equipment — Left unattended, the sediment buildup in these systems and appliances can significantly increase wear and tear, costing you a lot on maintenance.
  6. Dry, itchy skin — Hard water can clog pores and irritate your skin. It can increase occurrences of acne and other skin blemishes.
  7. Reduced water flow — Minerals from hard water can build up in your home’s plumbing, weakening your pipes and reducing your flow rate.
  8. Discolored floors, counters and tiles — Wiping and mopping surfaces with hard water can lead to a less-than-clean appearance.

If you’re noticing any of these issues in your home, there is a decent chance you have a hard water problem. Luckily, Homestead Comfort has the solution.

How can Homestead Comfort resolve hard water problems?

We are proud to partner with Shaw’s Pump Company to install water treatment systems in Connecticut households.

Our hard water treatment process begins by testing your water and determining what water filtration, purification and softening systems you may need. We’ll take you through your options, then install your water treatment equipment. We’re confident that you’ll experience immediate improvements in your water quality.

Homestead Comfort also services and repairs water treatment systems. We can perform a yearly 10-point water system tune-up. We’ll test your home water’s hardness and pH levels, look at your system’s mechanisms, purge your system, change filters, reset timers and add media to your water if needed.

Suspect your home has hard water? Reach out to Homestead Comfort today for a water quality assessment.

More about 8 Signs You Might Have Hard Water

One significant shift in the realm of air conditioning is the phasing out of R-22 refrigerant, commonly known as freon.

R-22 refrigerant has long been a staple in air conditioning systems, providing efficient cooling to homes and businesses for decades. However, as the world’s understanding of environmental impact deepened, it became clear that R-22 was contributing to ozone layer depletion, which protects us from harmful sun rays. In response, an international commitment led to the phase-out of R-22 production and import, with a complete termination by 2020.

This change is causing some issues for people who have old air conditioning systems that use R-22. Here are the problems they are facing:

1. Limited Supply: R-22 is no longer being produced, so it’s getting harder to find. This makes it more expensive for people to recharge their cooling systems with R-22.
2. Maintenance and Repairs: As time progresses, older A/C systems are more prone to breakdowns and malfunctions. However, with the discontinuation of R-22, finding replacement parts for repairing these systems becomes more difficult.
3. Costs are Up: Due to limited supply and increased demand, the price is going up a lot. People with old cooling systems must decide whether to pay more for repairs or invest in upgrading to a more modern, energy-efficient system.

For homeowners with aging A/C systems that rely on R-22, the following strategies can help navigate the challenges:

1. Regular Maintenance: Regular maintenance can extend the life of your system. Annual maintenance can help identify and address potential issues before they escalate, reducing the need for major repairs.
2. Consider Retrofitting: In some cases, older systems can be retrofitted to use alternative refrigerants that are compliant with modern environmental standards. Consulting with HVAC professionals can help determine if this is an option for your system.
3. Upgrade: While it involves a larger upfront investment, upgrading to a new A/C system that utilizes eco-friendly refrigerants can provide long-term benefits in terms of energy efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, and peace of mind.

While the end of R-22 may mark the end of an era, it also opens the beginning of a new chapter in cooling technology that prioritizes an eco-friendlier way to keep cool. By taking proactive steps and making informed decisions, homeowners can confidently navigate this transition and enjoy a cooler, greener future.

More about The End of an Era: Is Your Old Air Conditioner Ready for the R-22 Refrigerant Phase-Out?

Your HVAC systems filter plays a critical role in maintaining the overall efficiency of your system.

Dirty HVAC filter versus a clean filter.

When it comes to maintaining a comfortable and healthy indoor environment, your HVAC system plays an important role. One key component of the system is the air filter, which stops airborne particles, dust, and allergens. Many homeowners underestimate the importance of keeping their filters clean. In this blog, we will explore the impact of a dirty filter versus a clean one.

What happens if I don’t change my air filter and it gets dirty?

Reduced Airflow: A dirty HVAC filter gets clogged with dust and debris over time, restricting the airflow from passing through the system. As a result, your system must work harder to push air, leading to reduced efficiency and higher energy consumption.
Poor Indoor Air Quality: A dirty filter becomes less effective, allowing allergens, dust, and even mold to enter your living spaces. This can lead to respiratory issues, allergies, and other health problems.
Strain on the System: As the airflow decreases due to a clogged filter, your system may experience additional strain. Over time, this can lead to wear and tear, resulting in costly repairs or even premature system failure.

Does my system work better with a clean filter?

Improved Energy Efficiency: A clean filter allows unrestricted airflow, allowing the system to operate efficiently. With better airflow, the system doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the desired temperature, leading to lower energy consumption and reduced utility bills.
Enhanced Indoor Air Quality: A clean filter effectively traps airborne particles, keeping them from recirculating in your home. This helps maintain a healthier indoor environment.
Prolonged Lifespan: Regularly changing and maintaining a clean filter can extend the life of your system. With proper airflow and less strain on its components, it is less likely to experience breakdowns or premature failure.

Your HVAC system’s filter may seem like a small component, but it plays a critical role in maintaining indoor air quality and the overall efficiency of your system. Don’t neglect this simple yet crucial maintenance task – your HVAC system will thank you for it!

More about The Dirty Truth: Dirty HVAC Filter vs. Clean HVAC Filter

Stay cool all summer while keeping your electricity bills from ballooning.

central air Tolland county, ct Has an inflated electric bill given you heartburn this summer? With your central air conditioning running regularly during the hottest weeks of summer, your home energy costs can easily go through the roof.

Don’t turn off your A/C and suffer through baking, humid afternoons to save cash. The experienced HVAC team at Homestead Comfort has helped families in Tolland, Hartford, and Windham Counties stay comfortable for over 30 years. We have some simple tips to help you stay cool without breaking the bank.

Use your thermostat efficiently

On a day-to-day basis, we recommend you keep your thermostat around 78 degrees Fahrenheit to limit your energy consumption while remaining comfortable.

Additionally, The U.S. Department of Energy advises that households can save up to 10 percent on heating and cooling expenses annually by turning back thermostat settings 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day. You can program your thermostat to reduce A/C use when you’re asleep or out of the house.

Even better, you can get a Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostat. These devices let you control temperatures remotely from your phone. And they can even make their own intuitive energy-saving changes.

Turn on ceiling fans.

You can reduce your central A/C operations for pennies a day with ceiling fans. These simple household fixtures make rooms feel more comfortable by moving air around. This will help you keep your thermostat temperature a little higher during the day.

Keep the air moving in your A/C system.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for airflow in your cooling system to become obstructed. This obstruction leads to increased cycling by your central A/C equipment. Here are a few ways to ensure that you’re getting strong airflow to your rooms:

Arrange annual service for your cooling equipment.

Yearly HVAC maintenance is like a physical for your central A/C. It allows a professional technician to test and calibrate the system, clean any components that need it and fix small issues before they lead to an expensive breakdown. The relatively low cost of an annual tune-up is offset by lower energy consumption, fewer repairs and an extended A/C service life.

Upgrade to high-efficiency A/C products with Homestead Comfort!

If your home’s cooling system is over a decade old, you could be missing out on efficient technologies that can lower your operating costs and make your home more comfortable. The expert HVAC team at Homestead Comfort is happy to show you some high-efficiency A/C options. You may even qualify for a generous federal tax credit for installing ENERGY STAR-rated central air equipment!

If you’re interested in finding even more ways to make your home comfort systems more efficient, reach out to us for a Home Energy Assessment.

More about 5 Ways To Save Energy with Your Central Air

New plumbing can improve water pressure, water safety and peace of mind.

old plumbing Windham County, ct The older homes of Windham, Tolland and Hartford counties have many charming and delightful qualities. But if you own and live in one, you know that they present their share of challenges, too.

One significant challenge that people face with old houses is plumbing. Families in northern Connecticut homes built in the early 20th century (or before) often contend with corroded, narrowing and downright unsafe pipes.

The licensed, experienced plumbers at Homestead Comfort speak to many homeowners with galvanized pipes. We frequently talk to them about when galvanized plumbing can be maintained and repaired — and when it needs to be replaced altogether.

What are galvanized pipes?

Galvanized pipes were commonly used in American homes before the 1960s, though they were still used on occasion into the late 20th century. Made of steel, they are coated with zinc, inside and out, to prevent rusting. This coating wears away over time, and rust eventually fills up the plumbing.

Even more concerning, the zinc in galvanized pipes manufactured before 1960 contains lead.

The life expectancy of galvanized pipes is extremely wide-ranging, somewhere between 40 years and a century! If you live in a home with galvanized pipes, they could be approaching the end of their natural life.

Why are galvanized pipes a risk for your home?

Homeowners have three primary concerns about galvanized pipes: water pressure, water quality and ruptures.

As rust builds up inside an old, galvanized pipe, so do sediment and mineral deposits. This narrows the pipe and lowers the water flow in your home.

The presence of zinc and other harmful particles in these pipes also presents a serious health concern for your family.

Finally, the age and deterioration of galvanized plumbing can lead to a broken pipe and severe water damage.

Should you replace your galvanized plumbing?

Depending on when your galvanized pipes were made and installed, you might want to consider replacing them altogether. Lead infiltration in water is a serious safety concern. You’ll be facing a plumbing replacement scenario at some point down the line. Better to take care of it now.

You may be able to wait to replace galvanized pipes that do not contain lead. However, eventually, all this plumbing will wear out, and you will need to put new piping in its place. It might be best to think about when and how you want to replace this plumbing.

Concerned about galvanized pipes? Talk to Homestead Comfort.

When you call one of our licensed plumbers, they can quickly assess the state of your house’s pipes and present you with options to repair or replace them. We handle a range of plumbing services and will always identify the least disruptive and most affordable option that keeps your home secure and livable.

And if you’re concerned about your home’s water quality, don’t worry. We handle water treatment as well!

Reach out to Homestead Comfort for all your plumbing needs.

More about Do You Need to Replace Galvanized Pipes?

4 things to know about on-road and off-road diesel.

commercial diesel fuel Hartford county, ct In many ways, diesel is the driver of economies across the globe. Manufacturing, construction, agriculture — these and many other sectors depend on diesel. Goods cannot make it long distances without diesel-fueled fleets to carry them.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with this vital, in-demand fuel. For over 30 years, Homestead Comfort has delivered diesel fuel to businesses in Tolland, Ellington, Storrs and other places in eastern Connecticut. Here are four essential things you should know about diesel fuel.

1. The differences between diesel and gasoline

Diesel and gasoline are both distillates of crude oil, but they come from different hydrocarbons that are separated from crude during the refining process. As such, they have different uses and physical properties. Diesel is denser and doesn’t evaporate into the air like gasoline. It also generates about 10 to 20 percent more energy in combustion than gas, which accounts for better mileage in diesel engines.

Gasoline also has a shorter shelf life than diesel. Gasoline will start deteriorating after three to six months. Diesel is good for a year or more.

2. How diesel works in engines.

Diesel is far less flammable than gasoline. If you were to drop a lit match into a pail of diesel fuel, it would extinguish like you’d dropped it in water.

Whereas gasoline will combust in a car engine with a spark, diesel requires intense pressure to create high temperatures and ignite. That’s what the piston of a diesel engine does.

3. The difference between on-road and off-road diesel.

Essentially, there is no physical difference between on-road and off-road diesel. The difference is in how they are used and taxed.

On-road diesel is undyed. It’s sold at gas stations and is subject to a federal motor fuel excise tax plus state taxes for road fuels. This makes it generally much pricier than off-road diesel.

Off-road diesel is used in various vehicles and equipment related to agriculture, construction and other industrial fields. It is dyed red and cannot be purchased from a gas station. Off-road diesel is not subject to the same taxes as road diesel. If you’re found using off-road diesel in a road vehicle, you can face fines.

4. Diesel’s environmental impact.

Beginning with new Environmental Protection Agency regulations in 2006, diesel’s sulfur content has been reduced to 15 parts per million or less. Ultra-low sulfur diesel is better for the environment and reduces wear and tear on engines.

We’re seeing more and more biodiesel and renewable diesel, which can be blended with traditional diesel or, in some cases, used as a drop-in replacement. These fuels come from sustainable feedstocks and have a significantly lower carbon intensity.

Trust Homestead Comfort for your diesel needs.

Homestead Comfort supplies diesel fuel to farms, construction sites, paving companies, municipalities and vehicle fleets. We know how stressful it can be to line up at a pump and track receipts for reimbursement. When you partner with us, we’ll handle all the planning so you can focus on keeping your business running.

Let’s connect to discuss your diesel fuel needs. Reach out to Homestead Comfort today.

More about Diesel Fuel 101

Five benefits of a ductless air conditioning system.

ductless ac Tolland county, ct Many of the homes we serve in Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties have no vents or ductwork. These homes generally use a boiler for heat in the winter. During the high heat of summer, many people who live in houses without ducts think that their only option is a loud, ineffective window air conditioner.

The truth is there’s a versatile, efficient, long-lasting solution: ductless mini-splits.

These fantastic systems consist of indoor cooling units that connect to an outdoor condenser. The units draw in warm air from your living space, cool it and return it to you. We have installed more ductless mini-splits than just about anyone else in northern Connecticut. We can attest to their many benefits.

1. Zoned cooling

A central air conditioning system is generally controlled by a single thermostat, meaning that your whole home is set to a single temperature — even the rooms you aren’t in. By contrast, ductless mini-splits can provide zoned cooling. With a zoned system, each indoor unit functions independently, and you can keep individual spaces set to different temperatures.

2. Energy efficiency

In part because of its zoned cooling capabilities, ductless mini-split systems are often much less expensive to operate than central A/C. Here are some ways that ductless systems can save you money through efficiency:

3. Quick installation

Installing an entire central A/C system from scratch can take several days. Ductless mini-splits require a much simpler installation process. We can often get you up and running in one day. And the installation is minimally disruptive, with only minor drilling.

4. Discrete operation

One of the best features of mini-splits is how versatile they are. We can find the perfect placement for indoor units that keeps them out of sight while ensuring proper cooling for your home. Moreover, ductless systems typically run more quietly than central A/C equipment.

5. Long service life

If you properly maintain your mini-splits, they will last much longer than central A/C equipment does. Mini-split systems often operate efficiently for longer than 20 years! That’s one more way you can achieve significant cost savings with a mini-split system.

Homestead Comfort has the ductless air conditioning you need.

This year, say goodbye to the strenuous task of wedging an inefficient A/C into your window. With ductless mini-splits, you get your view back and experience superior summer comfort. At Homestead Comfort, we are a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Elite Contractor. You can count on us to promptly install these top-of-the-line products and maintain them for decades to come.

Are you ready to explore your ductless cooling options? Get in touch with Homestead Comfort today!

More about Are Ductless Mini-Splits Worth It?

You can schedule a water heater repair before it’s too late.

water heater service tolland county, ct A lot of water heater deterioration happens inside the tank, meaning you can’t see it with the naked eye. In fact, many of our customers in Tolland, Hartford and Windham County only realize their hot water system is failing when they start losing hot water.

Lack of hot water is not the only sign of water heater problems. Others are less obvious, but if you know what to look for, you can avoid having your water heater fail on you, leaving you without a hot shower or a working dishwasher. Pay attention to the following signs.

1. Inconsistent hot water

If your water turns lukewarm halfway through your shower, this may be a sign that your water heater is on its last legs. When it takes the heater a long time to warm up the water from your taps, there may be an electrical problem or sediment build-up, which are early indicators of a failing appliance.

2. Discolored or rusty water

No one wants to see dirty water coming out of their sinks or showerheads. This can be a sign that your anode rod (a metal rod that runs down the center of your tank) is beginning to fail. The anode rod is responsible for protecting the interior of the tank from corrosion. After this rod deteriorates completely, it’s only a matter of time before the tank itself begins to rust.

3. Leaking tank

If your water heater is leaking, turn it off immediately and call Homestead Comfort. Water heaters are designed to be airtight, so any leaking is a sign that something has gone wrong. Leaking water heaters can cause significant damage to your home, and taking action quickly is vital. Be sure to check regularly for leaks.

4. Strange noises

Is your water heater popping or banging? These noises are usually caused by sediment build-up on the bottom of the tank. As the sediment accumulates, the water heater uses more energy to do its job, making it less efficient and causing the tank to eventually fail.

5. The age of your equipment

The average water heater lasts around 10 years before needing to be replaced. We recommend using a water softener and scheduling annual maintenance to help extend its life. If necessary, we can test the quality of your water to see if it’s impacting your water heater.

Get in touch with Homestead Comfort before your water heater fails.

It’s crucial to contact us quickly if you suspect there’s an issue with your hot water. We can perform a water heater repair, or it’s possible your system needs standard maintenance.

If your water heater is nearing retirement, we will secure your equipment and install it quickly. And because you got in touch with us promptly, your time without hot water will be minimal.

Our expert technicians and licensed plumbers are ready to help address all your water heater concerns. Contact us today.

More about Five Signs Your Water Heater May be Failing

Why your home’s plumbing freezes and how to fix it

frozen pipes connecticut Already this year, we’ve seen record-breaking cold temperatures in New England. In Tolland, Hartford and Windham Counties, sub-freezing nights are an unpleasant fact of life. But the northern Connecticut households we serve need to stay vigilant when the mercury has bottomed out, or they could face a pricy and disruptive plumbing emergency.

One of the most common plumbing repairs that Homestead Comfort handles at this time of the year is frozen pipes. Frozen and burst pipes can severely impact your home. They cause property damage, ruin wiring and lead to mold. Older and poorly insulated houses are particularly vulnerable to ice in plumbing. But if you pay attention and take a few simple precautions, you can stop frozen pipes before they start.

How to get ready for an icy night

When a nasty cold snap or winter storm is approaching, it’s a good idea to take these steps to prepare:

What to do if your home will be empty for an extended period in winter

Before leaving your home for an extended period, follow the abovementioned steps. Additionally, you should never turn your heat completely off. Instead, lower it to a minimum of 55°F. Finally, check with a trusted neighbor and ask them to look in on your home if there are sustained freezing temperatures while you’re gone.

How to respond if your pipes freeze

Firstly, if a pipe bursts, turn off your water using the main shutoff and call a plumber immediately.

If your pipe is frozen but has not burst, you might be able to clear the ice on your own. Here are two ways to do so:

  1. If there is only partial freezing, you can open the faucet near the frozen pipe. This allows warmer water to pass through the blockage and relieve pressure to prevent bursting.
  2. It’s also possible to clear ice with a hair dryer. You should start by warming the section of the pipe closest to a faucet, then working toward the coldest area. Do not do this if there is any standing water on the floor, and don’t use an open flame on the pipe.

If you cannot thaw the frozen pipe yourself, you should call a plumber.

Homestead Comfort delivers top-tier plumbing service.

We are proud to offer a range of plumbing services to homes in northern Connecticut. Our plumbers are all state certified, and they’ll treat your home with respect and courtesy. If you have a frozen or burst pipe, you can count on the Homestead Comfort team to resolve it quickly and safely.

Contact us today if you need a repair or any other plumbing service.

More about How To Prevent Frozen Pipes