BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The first blast of winter is sweeping the Marblehead Peninsula this week, and owner Andy Schlotterer of Bayside Comfort Inc. in Marblehead, the area’s largest heating and cooling company is ready.
But are homeowners?
“It’s time to get cracking, if you haven’t already been preparing for the cold weather,” said Schlotterer, who has operated the 31-year-old family business for more than a decade. He’s a local guy — Danbury High School Class of 2000 — and he knows the good and the bad of Lake Erie shoreline winters.
Here are the big items that should be on a homeowner’s list right now, he said.
Change the furnace filters. You know they haven’t been touched in months. Those hot summer days were tough on the filters.
Preventative maintenance. Have a full expert inspection done of the furnace and air conditioning. It’s far less expensive than a repair.
Check the flue pipes. That’s where birds and even bees can live, and clog the pipes.
Check the natural gas flow to make sure the system is efficient.
Have an experienced technician check the system, including blower motors. That furnace might be working too darn hard.
Many bungalows in Lakeside, Marblehead, Port Clinton and Catawba are probably older than the owner these days, but high-tech equipment can pep it up and make the home more comfortable.
Bayside Comfort Inc. is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are 25 employees ready to help, including 10 full-time installers, eight service technicians, two full-time salesmen and an office staff.
“All of our people have iPads that can find a lonesome location, order a part, or play a video of the latest heating and cooling systems,” said Schlotterer.
“For example, the quickest fix for a really small bungalow is a tankless hot water heater,” said Schlotterer. “Going from even a smaller hot water tank to a tankless unit shrinks its footstep and can provide lots more storage space, a reason why I installed one in my home years ago.
“For people whose cottage is a second home, the tankless unit heats water only when you need it, a great feature if you’re going to be gone for a couple of days, weeks or months throughout the year. You won’t be heating water until it is needed, so you can watch your natural gas bills shrink. And they’re designed for big and small homes. And you can take all-day showers and never run out of hot water.”
Natural gas furnaces these days are built for efficiency, he said. They used to be about 70% to 80% efficient. Now they’re 96% to 98% efficient. If you have good home insulation and window sealing, a furnace with variable speed blower will be a clean and quiet heat source, efficient and humidifies a home better in summertime.
Schlotterer wants people to think energy efficient, and consider geothermal systems that use ground source heat pumps to make the transfer of hot and cool air more efficient. The systems work with the relative temperature of the earth, not temperatures above ground, so geothermal heating and cooling systems use 40% to 60% less energy.
One job Schlotterer won’t tackle that needs to be done is duct cleaning in older homes. That can greatly improve air quality, he said.
“We make a point of subbing that out to companies who have trained experts doing the job. And ducts that have not been cleaned in 20 years can be pretty dirty.”
To contact Bayside Comfort Inc., call 419-732-688 or visit BaysideComfort.com.