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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wi-Fi Household Device Security


In an article from February of this year, the New York Times noted several steps to take in making sure your household smart devices remain secure from the threat of being hacked.  The article explains that overall, online attacks on home devices are still relatively uncommon.  But that the market for household smart devices is growing very rapidly, which means more and more hackers will begin to target said devices.  All it takes is for a hacker to gain access to just one of these smart devices and that basically compromises the security of all the wi-fi devices in that home.  10% of American consumers have reported being hacked via a household device in a recent study done by the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company.  Those who were victims reported anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 in losses from the incident.

As stated in a previous blog post from last month, one must keep in mind that all these great and convenient technological advancements can also bring with them a considerable amount of online security vulnerabilities.  But the good news is that there are some fairly simple steps that can be taken to greatly reduce those threats.  For example, setting up 2 separate wi-fi networks, one for your tablet(s) and computer(s), and the other for all the other household smart devices.  This can help isolate any security breaches and also helps restrict the amount of devices exposed to the hack.  Another great example is just to take the time to research the reviews and product info for the different brands of smart devices out there.  A lot of the manufacturers are really starting to make better security improvements for their products.

These were just a couple of examples of improving your home cyber security.  For the full in-depth article, please check out: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/technology/personaltech/stop-hijacking-home-devices.html?mcubz=1&_r=0 



Environmental Heating & Air of NC

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Heat is Here

     
        It is evident that the cool spring air has given way to warm humidity. This will certainly lead to an increase in A/C usage. A sudden dependance on your cooling system can sometimes reveal issues that have lain dormant since last summer. This is why it is extremely important to have your systems maintained. The last thing you want to happen is to find your A/C is  nonfunctioning on the hottest day of the year. The same goes for your heating components as well. A pro-active check can sometimes be the saving grace for your system, catching problems before they develop into huge issues. Consider a check up for your HVAC system, and save yourself the future headache.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When Productivity Is Crucial, Comfort Must Be Accounted for.

      

     Most people can relate to the sensation of being too hot, or feeling too much humidity. Some would argue that this lack of comfort is distracting, and not condusive to productivity. When you are focused on your environment, you inherently take some focus away from your work.
      The main factor that should determine what your thermostat is set to is personal comfort. Furthermore , personal comfort is subjective, and what is right for you may not be comfortable for someone else. Personally, I am very much aware of the fact that I prefer temperatures between 65'F-72'F, That being said if a coworker of mine doesnt share those same standards, said person could customize their A/C zone through various methods.
         The first, and easiest method would be to personalize the air distribution settings for your system. This can be done by simply adjusting the amount of air flow through your vents, allowing more air to large open spaces, and less air to smaller offices. Vents can even be closed in order to bypass unused rooms, or at the request of an individual who is more comfortable in warm environments. These steps can also be applied to heating during the winter.
       The second, more comprehensive method would be to invest in a split-system HVAC, or alternatively to install a second system. With a second system, and the installation of a second thermostat, you can regulate various zones of your home, or office. These methods will ensure that every individual is happy, productive, and comfortable in their environment.
      
      

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dont Neglect Your Filters



       In this age of highly advanced technology, the developed world enjoys a level of relative safety, and comfort that is unparalled in human history. The list of convenient tech goes on and on, but notable examples of inventions with a far reaching societal impact are things like vehicular transport, kitchen appliances, and HVAC systems. Subsequently, each citizen in most cases needs to manage repairs, and maintenance for many different products throughout the course of owning said products. Unfortunately, sometimes this process is neglected, and the negative effects WILL make themselves apparent down the road. No oil in your car? Add more...or your car will be nothing more than an expensive driveway decoration. This is an undeniable fact, and yet every year countless vehicles are rendered useless, caused solely by neglect to maintain their intricate inner workings. This line of thinking can be applied to basically any mechanical system. If your system is not maintained, in most cases the result will be higher levels of failure, and a decrease in productivity.
       Furthermore, it is important to realize which of these appliances are connected to our biology. If your refridgerator is not filtering water properly, you will tastes the difference. It is even possible that this issue could lead to sickness caused by the consumption of non-purified water. For most people this is not a problem because (conveniently) the prevalence of water quality monitors has mitigated this issue. Now, when your water filter needs to be changed a handy light will appear on the dispenser to let you know. Most people would shudder at the thought of drinking water from an out of date, or dirty water filter. How, then does air quality fall by the wayside?
     "Out of sight, Out of mind". This simple expression is fundamental to the thought process behind neglecting your air filters. The primary method of checking the status of your air quality is to simply take a look at your air filters. Furthermore, to be absolutely certain that no foreign particulates, or allergens are aggregating in your system, it is advisable to have your system properly inspected, and maintained by a professional. It is easy to forget, or dismiss the fact that changing your filters is a necessity, however failure to routinely change your filters can lead to some very serious issues. Especially for children whose lungs are not yet fully developed. Asthma, which has been proven to manifest itself  naturally, can also be an effect of poor air quality. Lung function can be greatly hindered by the inhalation of dust, mold, or other airborne contaminants. It is imperative to the health, and safety of anyone who regularly spends time in air conditioned spaces to keep a record of HVAC Service, so as to know when your system needs to be serviced, maintained, or replaced due to old age. Your lungs will thank you!




 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Dark Side of Wi-Fi Thermostats


Technological advancements are happening faster now than at any other time in human history.  "Smart" phones, watches, TVs, and even thermostats can be purchased with ease by anyone.  Whether you want to make purchases online thru your TV or change the temperature in your house a couple of degrees from work before you head home, the conveniences are unparalleled.  But along with anything seemingly great, comes the realization of the risks associated with the potential downsides.  It's a known fact that anything considered to be Wi-Fi compatible is completely at risk to be hacked.  Tech analysts worldwide are adamant about the relative ease of hacking with all these new "smart" gadgets. 

It doesn't necessarily even take a tech savvy person to remotely access one of these said gadgets.  Take, for example, a review left by a jilted ex-lover on Amazon.com in regards to his great satisfaction with purchasing a Honeywell Wi-Fi thermostat:

"Since this past Ohio winter has been so cold I've been messing with the temp while the new love birds are sleeping. Doesn't everyone want to wake up at 7 AM to a 40 degree house? When they are away on their weekend getaways, I crank the heat up to 80 degrees and back down to 40 before they arrive home. I can only imagine what their electricity bills might be. It makes me smile. I know this won't last forever, but I can't help but smile every time I log in and see that it still works. I also can't wait for warmer weather when I can crank the heat up to 80 degrees while the love birds are sleeping. After all, who doesn't want to wake up to an 80 degree home in the middle of June?"

More than 8,200 of the 8,490 Amazon users who have read the review deemed it "useful."  Security research engineers have heavily emphasized the inherent hacking vulnerabilities of these devices, even ones with the ability to restrict user access.  According to networkworld.com, more than 73,000 internet connected cameras were found to be streaming their footage on the web in any given month in 2016.  Consumers were found to have never changed the default passwords and unwittingly allowed hackers to stream the private footage from cameras that they had initially purchased to feel safer.

Higher-end "smart" home products are starting to be designed with higher security standards, and as the market matures, it's predicted that most all products will follow suit.  But for now, security standards for today's "smart" products are still a work in progress, so for the time being, consumers may still find themselves exposed to security-related vulnerabilities.

Environmental Heating & Air of NC
919-535-8422

Friday, April 7, 2017

Spring Offers Best Prices on New A/C

Spring is here which means prices on new A/C systems are at their best of the year!  The in-between peak seasons periods(spring / fall) are the most sluggish time periods sales-wise, and in an effort to keep products moving along, manufacturers are forced to lower their prices on new systems. So needless to say, if you've been thinking about having that old inefficient clunker of an A/C replaced, there's no better time than now!  Plus, A/C replacement appointments during this time can often be completed within 24 hours of receiving your quote!

Not only during these times does the cost of a new system go down, but also the interest rate that goes along with financing that new system!  Trust me, you don't want to wait until the weather gets hot and demand goes back up, because so will the prices and interest rates!  At Environmental, we offer free quotes on system replacements with no pressure or hassle.  Our quotes are good for 30 days, so if you're even thinking you might need a new system before too long, strike now while the iron is hot!  Give us a call!

Environmental Heating & Air of NC
919-535-8422

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ideal Time For Routine Maintenance


Mild winters are often followed up by a hot spring and/or summer.  So, if you are willing to get your spring Preventative Maintenance done a little early this year, the chances of getting any replacement parts you may need or any other service done that you may require as identified by your Preventative Maintenance technician, you will receive the fastest service available.  That often means same day parts replacement appointments!  Turn-around time on these appointments is the fastest during this time of year.

A Preventative Maintenance Contract can more than pay for itself in fewer emergency repairs and lower utility bills alone.  Not to mention, most major HVAC corporations technically require customers to have routine maintenance done by a licensed company in order to be covered by their parts warranty.  As with your vehicle or really any mechanical item, routine maintenance is a must!  There are a multitude of things that can cause your heating and a/c unit to fail as well as take years off it's life, and most of these things can't be found unless you are proactive and have someone with a trained eye who can spot the immediate warning signs.  Whether it's low refrigerant in your heat pump(which can cause your heat strips to stay on all the time during the winter and/or your a/c to run continuously during the summer = high energy bill) or a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger(which produces the deadly gas Carbon Monoxide), or just all around dirt and grime(which greatly decreases efficiency), there really is no downside to signing up for a Preventative Maintenance Contract.  If nothing else, it will be to have the peace of mind knowing that you don't have to worry about your heating and a/c, as we keep a detailed record of your system's specifications and tendencies.  To learn more about Environmental's Preventative Maintenance Plan or if you have any questions about anything else we can help you with, please visit our website or give us a call!

Environmental Heating & Air of NC
919-535-8422
enviro-nc.com