Touchstone Heating & Air Inc Blog : Archive for December, 2013

The Ball in Times Square

Monday, December 30th, 2013

New Year’s is a time for parties, fun and great traditions, some of which go back more than a century. Among them is the famous “dropping of the ball” in Times Square, an event which is broadcast to millions of people every New Year’s Eve. With 2014 nearly upon us, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look at the history of this popular New Year’s Eve festivity.

The idea began in 1907 at what was then the New York Times building at One Times Square. The newspaper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, had been celebrating the New Year with fireworks since 1903. He wanted make the event even more remarkable, and added the ball in December of 1907 to welcome in the New Year. The first ball was designed by Artkraft Strauss, who made it out of iron, wood, and light bulbs. It took six men to hoist the ball up the building’s flag pole; once midnight struck, the tremendous ball was carefully lowered, and all were allowed to marvel at it.

Since then, the ball has undergone many changes in materials and design, and even the New York Times has moved to another building. But the tradition remains and the ball has dropped over One Times Square ever since. Today, the ball is electronically controlled, and uses LED lamps for its construction: designed by Waterford Crystal and weighing in at over 1,200 pounds.

A number of television broadcasts have helped carry the event over the years, but by far the most famous is “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” which first ran in 1972. The show was created and hosted by Dick Clark, who became a staple of the event as much as the ball itself. Clark hosted the show every New Year’s Eve from 1972 until his death in 2012. Since then, it has been hosted by Ryan Seacrest, who shared hosting duties with Clark starting in 2005.

Whether you’re watching the ball drop on TV or have some other New Year’s Eve plan in mind, we here at Touchstone Heating & Air wish you nothing but the best for 2014. Have a safe and happy New Year!

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Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Holiday greetings from Touchstone Heating & Air! We hope you are having safe and pleasant season, enjoying your favorite traditions for this time of year.  We wish you the very best, and we thank you for your business this year.

In honor of the season, here are some fun facts about one of everyone’s favorite holiday movies: It’s a Wonderful Life.

For years, one of the enduring December traditions in the United States was watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life playing almost nonstop on numerous television stations. No matter the time of the day, you could turn on the TV set, flip through channels, and discover It’s a Wonderful Life playing. Whenever you needed him, you could find Jimmy Stewart shouting, “Hello, Bedford Falls!”

But now… It’s a Wonderful Life only appears on broadcast television a few times during December, and most families instead choose to watch the movie on video. What happened?

The reason goes back to the film’s initial wide release in January 1947. (That’s right, it opened after the holiday season. It was not even promoted as a holiday film.) It’s a Wonderful Life was a box-office disappointment at the time, and its studio, RKO Radio Pictures, lost more than half a million on it. The movie’s production company, Liberty Films, was sold to Paramount to avoid bank foreclosure. (A bit ironic, considering the movie’s plot.) In 1955, the National Telefilm Associates (NTA) took over the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life, which included the television syndication rights.

However, NTA failed to properly renew the copyright in 1974 because of a clerical error, which allowed the film’s images to enter into the public domain. Although the movie’s plot was still under copyright protection because it was adapted from a published story called “The Greatest Gift,” television stations across the world could now broadcast it with only minimal royalty payments.

In 1993, Republic Pictures, which now owned the NTA library, tried to enforce their claim to the copyright of the film, as they possessed the rights to “The Greatest Gift.” Republic Pictures succeeded, and licensed exclusive television rights to NBC. Suddenly, It’s a Wonderful Life vanished from local television stations, and NBC made the movie’s broadcasts—usually twice during December—into major events. As of 1998, Paramount again has the rights to It’s a Wonderful Life… 43 years after they lost them.

It’s still easy to make It’s a Wonderful Life a part of whatever traditions you observe during the holidays, whether through home video or television broadcasts. Despite its lackluster initial reception in 1947, Frank Capra’s film is now an inseparable part of December in the United States.

Have a great holiday week!

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Things to Look for in a New Generator

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Florida means hurricanes, and hurricanes mean a loss of electrical power just when people need it the most. In cities like Gainesville, FL, generators are practically a necessity for any responsible homeowner. Generators can keep you warm and comfortable in the midst of a crisis, as well as maintaining key parts of your household such as a refrigerator (storing food) and radio or Internet services (keeping you in contact with the outside world). Buying a new generator is an important process, almost as important as keeping it fueled and maintained in anticipation of hurricane season. Her’ a list of things to look for in a new generator.

  • Sizing: By this, we don’t mean physical size (though that could come into play depending on where you wish to install the generator), but rather the amount of power it generates. You should determine exactly how much of a load you intend to place on your generator, then resolve to never go over it. Beware of ordering a generator that’s too small. Better to err on the side of a larger size and keep the generator operating than finding you need more power in the middle of a torrential rain.
  • Maintenance and fuel issues: Make sure you know what kind of fuel your generator uses and what its rate of fuel consumption is. Generators can run off propane, diesel, gasoline or similar fuels, and you want to make sure you have plenty stored with it. Calculating fuel consumption is just as important: you don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of a storm.

If you need Gainesville, FL generator service, talk to the experts at at Touchstone Heating & Air. We can discuss things to look for in and new generator, then perform an installation with courtesy and care. Pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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How is Insulation Efficiency Rated?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Insulation can help you make the most of your heating and cooling systems. Most people think that insulation works best in the winter, when it retains heat to keep your home warm. They thus tend to discard it out of hand, since our Florida winters are very warm. But insulation is equally effective during our hot summers, when it helps your home cool. Insulation is formed by numerous different kinds of material, making it hard for laymen to understand which one is the best. Luckily, a common rating system allows you to measure different types of insulation against a common standard. How is insulation efficiency rated?

The common measuring system is known as the R-value, which is determined by dividing the thickness of the material by its thermal conductivity (or ability to conduct heat). An easier barometer of insulation’s R-value is to compare the temperature on one side of the material with the temperature on the other side. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation works and the more effectively it can insulate your home.

Here in Florida, you want to look for insulation with a rating of no lower than R30 for your attic and R25 for your walls. The attic is usually the more important area to insulate, since heat escapes through the ceiling. Anything up to R60 is recommended, and the higher the R-value, the more efficiently your home will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

If you’re looking to add insulation to your Gainesville, FL home, or perhaps replace your existing insulation with something more efficient, then it pays to contact experts to help. Here at Touchstone Heating & Air, our experts can advise you on the kind of insulation that is right for your home. Give us a call to set up a consultation today. You’ll be glad that you did!

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Which Heating System is Best in a Warm Climate?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Here in Gainesville, FL, heating takes a bit of a back seat to air conditioning, which is more important during our long summer months. That may lead some homeowners to dismiss the need for a quality heater. This is a mistake. Heating systems play a vital role in keeping our homes comfortable, and just because we have fewer chilly nights than elsewhere in the country doesn’t mean that comfy heater isn’t welcome when the thermometer starts to drop. Florida does offer a rather unique climate, however, which can play a role when selecting a good heating system. Which heating system is best in a warm climate? It depends, but some of the more popular options are outlined below.

  • Gas furnaces. Gas furnaces rely on a centralized unit that distributes heat through a series of ducts. Furnaces can be very efficient, and they can heat your home very quickly.
  • Heat pumps. Heat pumps combine the functions of a heater and an air conditioner into a single unit, making them very effective in all climates. They work especially well in climates like ours, where the temperature rarely drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes them an excellent choice for our area.
  • Geothermal systems. Geothermal heat pumps rely on the ambient temperature of the ground itself, which never changes no matter what the weather’s like. It involves a series of pipes filled with a heat exchanging fluid buried under the ground, which means it usually needs a fair amount of land space to work. The installation process is also extensive. On the other hand, they don’t cost much to run, and they last a very long time with few maintenance needs. Like air source heat pumps, they can both heat and cool your home.

All three of these units run well in warm climates, but which one is best depends on your individual circumstances. In Gainesville FL, heating advice and installation can be provided by the experts at Touchstone Heating & Air. Call us today and let us help you make the most of your heating system!

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