5 HVAC Tips to Reduce Seasonal Allergies


Spring is just around the corner. Unfortunately, so are seasonal allergies. If you’re one of the millions of allergy sufferers in the U.S., warmer weather can mean uncontrollable sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and difficulty breathing. But did you know that you can reduce your allergy symptoms and improve your home’s air quality with regular HVAC maintenance? Read our blog for 5 HVAC tips to reduce seasonal allergies.

5 HVAC tips to reduce seasonal allergies.

Use high quality furnace filters

Furnace filters are the first line of defense against indoor air pollutants such as pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. Over time, filters become clogged and dirty, which constricts airflow and allows allergens to circulate freely throughout the home. Consider upgrading your furnace filter to a high-qualtiy HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes at least 99.8 percent of contaminants in the air. Changing the filter every three months (or sooner if you have pets or an older HVAC system) can significantly reduce the amount of allergens in your home and help alleviate symptoms.

Clean registers and vents regularly

Heat registers and air vents circulate air from your HVAC system. If they’re neglected, dust, dirt, and other particles will blow and settle throughout the interior of your home. Consider cleaning your registers and vents at least once a week with a damp or treated cloth before you dust the rest of the house. This will prevent contaminants from returning after you’re finished cleaning. If you have wood floors in your home, you may need to clean two to three times a week. In addition, it’s a good idea to have your ductwork cleaned by a professional every three to five years.

Check for mold and mildew

It’s a fact. Mold and mildew thrive in dark and damp places. A neglected or improperly maintained HVAC system that collects condensation or humidity may lead to the growth of unwanted contaminants. This could exacerbate allergies, asthma, and other illnesses. Schedule a routine maintenance appointment with your HVAC professional to inspect your system and ensure the ductwork is clean. Also, if high humidity is an issue, consider having your technician install a UV light near the system’s evaporator. This will absorb heat drawn into the home, as well as kill bacteria and other harmful microorganisms that aggravate allergies and asthma.

Clean your outdoor unit

Although your HVAC system filters air before it enters your home, you still should consider having your air conditioning unit cleaned on a regular basis. When the consender coil gets dirty, the air conditioner works harder to blow cool air. As a result, the unit performs at a less than optimal level and does a poor job of dehumidifying the air inside. Warm, moist air can worsen allergies as well as cause unwanted bacteria growth. Contact an HVAC professional to have your unit serviced annually.

Regular HVAC maintenance

The best and most cost-effective way to prevent allergens from invading your home is to keep your HVAC system maintained and operating properly. Be sure to schedule regular maintenance by a heating and cooling professional, including ductwork cleaning, to improve air quality and keep the system running efficiently. And, as mentioned earlier, change the air filter at least every 90 days or sooner.

Spring will be here before you know it. Enjoy fresh, breathable air and keep allergies at bay with an HVAC maintenance check-up from the professionals at Heating and Cooling Two. Family owned and operated since 1980, Heating & Cooling Two can help service all of your HVAC needs. Contact us today.

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Is Your Furnace Short Cycling?


Does your furnace click on and off repeatedly before reaching the desired temperature on the thermostat? Does it shut off before blowing any warm air through your home? It may be that your furnace is short cycling. It’s a common problem for homeowners in colder climates and if not diagnosed properly and corrected, it can lead to higher utility bills, expensive repairs, or even an unexpected furnace replacement. Let’s take a look at some possible causes of furnace short cycling and what you can do to prevent unnecessary and costly repairs down the road.

The air filter is dirty or clogged.

One of the most common reasons for short cycling is a dirty or clogged air filter. Clogged filters restrict airflow, which affects the exchange of heat in your home. When the furnace is on, constricted airflow traps heat inside the system, causing it to overheat and eventually shut off prematurely. Changing your filter every three months, or sooner if you have pets or allergies, keeps air flowing freely and your heating system running smoothly during the colder months.

The thermostat is faulty.

The second most common issue with a furnace short cycling is the thermostat. As with all electronics, thermostats can go bad over time. If your furnace keeps turning on and off, this may be an indication of a malfunctioning or broken thermostat. There are several things that could cause your thermostat to not function properly including faulty wiring, dead batteries, or the location of the unit. Placing your thermostat too close to a vent or other heating source may cause it to cycle on and off at irregular intervals. Unless the batteries on the unit need to be replaced, it’s best to contact an HVAC professional to move the thermostat or replace the wiring if necessary.

The furnace blower isn’t working properly.

The furnace blower is the mechanism that circulates air throughout your home. Typically, when the blower motor is damaged or broken, the furnace won’t turn on at all. However, in the rare instance it does, no air circulates over the heat exchangers, causing the unit to shut off repeatedly. To test the furnace blower, hold your hand over the vent to check if air is coming out. If there is weak or no airflow, most likely there’s a problem with the blower. Contact your heating systems professional right away to repair or replace the blower.

The flue pipe is blocked.

Also known as the exhaust vent, the flue pipe can cause your furnace to short cycle. The flue pipe is located on the roof and can become clogged with dirt, leaves, branches, and even bird or other animal nests. This may lead to a buildup of hot gas in your furnace and cause it to shut down if it overheats. Have your flue pipe inspected during routine maintenance appointments.

The furnace isn’t properly sized.

If your furnace is too big for your home, it can cause the unit to short cycle. An ill-fitted unit can cause your home to heat too quickly, then abruptly shut off. Once the home is cold again, the cycle repeats itself. If this is the case, you may have to replace your heating system all together.

If your furnace short cycles, you should contact your HVAC professional right away. Ignoring the problem could lead to major repairs and expenses down the road. A good way to avoid issues with your furnace is to schedule regular preventative maintenance at least once a year.

Family-owned and operated since 1980, Heating & Cooling Two can help service all of your HVAC needs. Contact us today to schedule a repair or routine maintenance.

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The Benefits of a Two-Stage Furnace

Two-stage furnace

When it comes to choosing the right furnace for your home, efficiency is key. That’s why many energy-conscious Minnesotans select a two-stage unit for optimal performance and comfort in the frigid North. Let’s take a look at the benefits of a two-stage furnace and how it can save you money and headaches in the long run.

What is a two-stage furnace?

When talking about stage heating relative to your furnace, it’s actually referring to the burner section inside of the unit, or more specifically, the valve that controls the fuel distribution that heats your home. A two-stage unit has two levels of heating output. When the furnace turns on, it initially starts in a low-fire mode, then ramps up depending on the thermostat’s set temperature. Two-stage furnaces generally run at the lower stage most of the time but the heating cycles are longer and produce less temperature fluctuations, usually between one and two degrees. In general, a two-stage unit will run at 70 percent capacity most of the time. Two-stage furnaces are more efficient than their one-stage counterparts. They tend to require less maintenance and are moderately priced.

How does it compare to single-stage and modulators?

There are two additional types of furnaces – single-stage and modulators. A single-stage unit runs at 100 percent capacity all the time. While they generally tend to be less expensive and have lower repair costs, these units are not as efficient as a two-stage furnace. They operate with a single-speed blower motor which blows at full speed and noise level all of the time. Single-stage furnaces tend to have larger temperature variations than two-stage and can fluctuate up to four degrees. These units are better for warmer climates where the furnace isn’t used very much.

Modulating units tend to be the most-energy efficient as well as eco-friendly. However, they’re more prone to repairs as they are running more often. Designed for longer cycles but at lower capacity, modulators push less amounts of heat into the house but more frequently. The flame increases or decreases in smaller increments so the room temperature never varies more than one or two degrees. Once there’s a good build-up of heat in the house, there’s no more need for a huge influx of heat from the furnace, at least for a while. After that, a modulating furnace turns on and off more frequently than other types of units. Modulating units are more expensive than one- and two-stage furnaces.

What are the benefits of two-stage heating?

The two main benefits to two-stage heating are efficiency and comfort. Furnace efficiency is measured by AFUE – annualized fuel utilization efficiency. This measurement is similar to gas mileage, a measure of how much heat you get relative to the amount of fuel burned. Two-stage models tend to range up to 95 percent, compared to 80 percent for single-stage units. This improvement in efficiency means lower operating costs, which translates into energy savings for the homeowner.

With regard to comfort, the more stages a furnace runs on, the better the temperature balance and air filtration in your home. Longer running cycles at less-than full capacity means air gets moved through the filter more times during the day. This helps to remove dust particles and allergens from the air resulting in better indoor air quality. Moreover, if a humidifier is attached to the furnace, the longer cycles will cause it to run more, which means more comfortable humidity levels in the dryer winter months.

Selecting the right furnace for your home can be daunting, with many variables to consider such as cost and energy output. The experts at Heating and Cooling Two are here to help make the choice a little easier. We’re an authorized dealer of quality, high-efficiency Bryant gas furnaces.

Contact us today to speak with one of our heating and cooling professionals.

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Your Furnace is Red-Tagged. Now What?

Red-Tagged Furnace

Sometimes red can be a good thing. But not on your furnace. If your furnaced is red-tagged, that means your HVAC technician or utility company found a critical safety issue that needs attention right away. Your technician is required by law to shut down the unit and place a tag on the equipment because of the potential danger it poses to you, your family, and sometimes even your neighbors. But before you panic, let’s take a closer look at the red-tagging process and what it means for you and your home.

Why are furnaces red-tagged?

Most furnaces burn natural gas or propane. Both forms of fuel are inexpensive and efficient for heating your home. However, if there are signs of a gas leak due to faulty piping or cracks in the heat exchanger, the technician will place a red tag on the unit and disable it until it is either repaired or replaced. The tag states the homeowner is aware of the risk and assumes responsibility if they turn the furnace back on before the issue is resolved.

The technician will place one of two types of tags on the furnace. The first is an A-tag, which is the most serious. In this case, the problem with the unit is critical and the equipment must be disabled immediately. A B-tag is not as serious and means you have more time before an HVAC professional or utility company shuts off the unit. Before turning the furnace back on, the homeowner will have to provide proof of repair or replacement.

What are the common problems?

There are a number of reasons why a furnace may be red-tagged. Here are a few common causes:

  • Cracks in the heat exchanger
    The heat exchanger is a series of metal tubes that heat up when the furnace is on. Over time, the contrast between the tubes heating up and cooling off may result in cracks that allow flue gases, such as carbon monoxide, to be released into your home’s air supply. Carbon monoxide is a serious health hazard and can be lethal with prolonged or heavy exposure.
  • Leaky or improperly installed flue
    The furnace exhaust pipe or flue helps vent harmful gases such as carbon monoxide out of your home. It usually runs from the combustion chamber and up to the attic where it is vented outdoors. Over time the flue can become loose or start to leak water or worse, gas. If you notice condensation build-up on or near your exhaust pipe, contact an HVAC professional right away as this could mean a carbon monoxide leak.
  • Lack of Routine Maintenance
    Perhaps the most common issue that can cause a furnace to be red-tagged is the lack of routine maintenance. Like a car or any other major appliance, your furnace requires regular check-ups to keep it running efficiently year after year. Running a furnace with a dirty air filter can cause dust to build up over the heat exchanger, hastening metal fatigue and causing cracks over time. It’s important to change your furnace air filter at least every three months to keep your system operating at peak performance.

What are your options if your furnace is tagged?

If your heating and cooling professional determines the cause of the problem is a cracked heat exchanger, you may be able to replace it without having to purchase a new furnace. A good rule of thumb is that if your furnace is less than 10 years old, consider replacing the heat exchanger if it is still under warranty or if the repair cost is less than 25 percent of the total system replacement. Otherwise, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a new unit altogether.

If your furnace is red-tagged, it’s always a good idea to get a second (or third) opinion. You can ask your HVAC professional to point out specific issues, especially with the heat exchanger. If there’s only a hairline crack and the carbon monoxide levels are below 30 parts per million, it may still be safe to run your furnace, but it should still be monitored.

Family owned and operated since 1980, Heating and Cooling Two can help service all of your HVAC needs. Contact us today to schedule a repair or routine maintenance.

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Winter Fire Safety Tips

Winter fire safety

Sure, winter in Minnesota is the perfect time for mood lighting, roaring fires, and binge-watching your favorite true crime drama. But did you know that more house fires occur in the colder months than any other time of the year? It’s elementary, dear reader – we tend to spend more time indoors. Fireplaces and space heaters, as well as candles, holiday decorations, and winter storms, can dramatically increase the risk of fires in the winter. Don’t be a victim. Read our blog for winter fire safety tips to protect your home and your family from fire hazards.

Check your HVAC system

It’s no mystery; annual maintenance is critical when it comes to safely heating your home. Have your heating system checked by an HVAC professional at least once a year to ensure your system is operating safely and efficiently. But there are things you can do at home to ensure things run smoothly: Clean your vents and air registers, check your thermostat and adjust the temperature if necessary, and replace your furnace air filters on a regular basis. This can greatly reduce the risk of fire and save money on expensive repairs in the long run.

Inspect your fireplace

If your fireplace burns wood, be sure to have it inspected and cleaned by a professional before the beginning of the season. Cracks, poor ventilation, and the build up of creosote – a highly flammable, tar-like by-product of wood combustion – can lead to devastating house fires. Having it professionally cleaned is a good way to prevent this. Also, cover your fireplace with a metal screen or tempered glass to prevent embers from igniting the surrounding area. Problem solved.

Test your smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide detectors while you’re at it)

Riddle us this – what can you do to dramatically reduce the potential of fire-related injuries in your home? Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, of course. It’s estimated that three out of five fire-related injuries occur in homes without working fire alarms, mostly due to dead, missing, or disconnected batteries. Make it a part of your annual routine to change the batteries on your units to ensure they function properly, keeping you and your family safe this winter.

Beware of space heaters

A portable heater can be a convenient and affordable heating source if you’re looking to cut down on your utility bills. It can also be a fire hazard. Choose one that’s equipped with an automatic shut-off feature to avoid dangerously high temperatures. Avoid placing heaters near loose fabric like curtains or tablecloths. Use caution when using these devices around children and pets – ensure a safe distance of three feet or more to avoid burns. Lastly, make sure you turn off your portable heater when you leave the room or before you go to bed.

Stay informed about severe weather

It just wouldn’t be winter in Minnesota without a blizzard to knock out power and wreak havoc on your home. Power outages caused by downed trees or power lines are dangerous and can even be life-threatening. When the electricity is out, be careful when using alternate sources of energy such as candles or a portable generator. Place candles in a safe area away from children and pets. Portable generators should be used outdoors at all times as they can emit dangerous fumes.

So go ahead, hunker down this winter. Just don’t get caught unprepared. Contact Heating and Cooling Two today for furnace repair or to schedule a furnace tune-up.

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The Benefits of Duct Sealing

Duct Sealing

Is duct sealing your home worth the investment? Is the atomic weight of cobalt 58.9? That’s our way of saying most definitely, yes! Leaky ducts can lead to added stress on your home’s HVAC system and contribute to energy loss during the winter and summer months. This costs homeowners an estimated $25 billion per year in utility bills. Not smart. Not smart at all. Read our blog to find out how a properly sealed duct system can make your home more comfortable while reducing energy consumption and ultimately saving you money.

Indoor Air Quality

Mold, dust, household chemicals, and other nasty stuff can enter your duct system, causing poor indoor air quality and aggravating allergies and asthma. Sealing your ducts helps improve air circulation throughout your home and reduces the risk of inhaling harmful pollutants that can cause illness. Seal ’em up so you can breathe easier.


With normal operation, gas appliances such as furnaces, clothes dryers, and hot water heaters release combustion gases like carbon monoxide through their ventilation systems. Faulty or leaky ductwork may cause a backdraft, forcing the dangerous gas back into your living space instead of sending it outside where it belongs. Seal leaks. Minimize risks. Yes, it really is that simple.

Environmentally friendly

Green is not just the latest buzzword. Most energy used in your home is a result of burning fossil fuels at the expense of our planet. Yikes! Sealing your ducts reduces the amount of energy needed to comfortably heat or cool your home as well as decreases the amount of air pollution released into the environment.

Cost savings

It’s estimated that leaky ducts can reduce the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent, leaving you with higher energy bills. That’s money out the window, literally. Ductwork that is properly sealed and insulated helps your HVAC system perform better while the savings add up.

Your trusted HVAC professionals

When it comes to properly sealing your ducts, you don’t have to be a genius. You just have to know who to call. Let the experts at Heating and Cooling Two assess and troubleshoot your home’s ductwork system and provide a solution that fits your needs and budget. Now that’s what we call smart, even if you don’t know the atomic weight of cobalt.

Contact us today.

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HVAC Tips to Deal with Extreme Cold

HVAC tips to deal with extreme cold

“Happy Holidays,” Minnesota says as it dishes out another round of cold weather and plans for January’s frost. Sadly, you can’t get rid of winter like you can those unwanted gifts from Uncle Ned. Read our blog for HVAC tips to deal with extreme cold.


Don’t take your heating system for granted. If you haven’t yet, schedule a furnace tune-up to make sure your unit is properly serviced by a professional technician. And oh by golly, please replace your filter. A dirty filter puts stress on your system and can damage equipment.

Proper Airflow

If Santa can’t make it down a clogged chimney, the conditioned air in your ducts won’t be able to flow through blocked supply registers. Make sure your vents are free of obstructions. Move furniture and rugs away from registers so the warm air your furnace produces can circulate throughout the home. If you’re noticing a musty scent or stuffy rooms, an air exchanger could rid your home of pollutants and provide proper ventilation.

Programmable Thermostat

If you won’t be home for Christmas, count on a programmable thermostat to maintain optimal temperatures so your pipes and pets don’t freeze. You can remotely monitor a smart thermostat from your cell phone, a convenient feature if you need an excuse to step away from that awkward conversation at the holiday dinner table.

Gas Fireplace

When the weather outside is frightful, the inviting, warm glow of a fireplace could be so delightful. You can make any room in your home feel luxurious without the maintenance and hazards involved with a real wood-burning hearth. Install a gas fireplace to create a welcoming, cozy space for your friends and family to gather.

Other Remedies

Don’t crank the heat. Instead, set the thermostat to a lower temperature setting so it doesn’t constantly run to keep your home cozy. Put on some extra layers, a pair of fuzzy socks, and sip some hot chocolate or nog to keep chattering teeth at bay. You could also consider installing a whole house humidifier for added comfort.

Trusted HVAC Contractor

Heating & Cooling Two provides a variety of products, services, and accessories to help you survive the winter. We offer cost-saving Bryant furnaces and maintenance packages for your heating equipment. Our personable technicians will service your units and troubleshoot any issues. Heating & Cooling Two understands that the holiday season can be tight on the pocketbook, so we offer a variety of hot deals to save you money.

Contact us to learn more.

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When is the Best Time to Buy a Furnace or Air Conditioner?

When is the Best Time to Buy a Furnace or Air Conditioner?

A new HVAC system is a hefty financial investment that may be hard to wrap your head around. Some say it’s best to purchase a replacement in the offseason, others say to bite the bullet and upgrade them all at once. If you find that confusing, you’re not alone. So when is the best time to buy a furnace or air conditioner, or both? Read on to find out.

How old is your HVAC equipment?

Perhaps the most obvious answer is that you should replace your HVAC units before they die. Most are designed to last 15 to 20 years, so replacement is inevitable for long-term homeowners.

The older your HVAC units get, the more likely they are to break down or fail completely. An outdated furnace or air conditioner could be hazardous to your family’s safety and health. Malfunctioning equipment could cause house fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. In Minnesota, a broken furnace in the dead of winter could result in frozen pipes and plumbing expenses.

To avoid getting caught in the cold or sweltering heat, you’ll want to be prepared for a replacement by saving money over time and working it into your yearly budget.

How many times do you call for service?

If you’re frequently calling your HVAC contractor for repair service, you might want to think about investing in a new system rather than emptying your pockets for a failing unit. Your technician can assess whether a replacement may make more sense in the long run. Though it’s a large cost up front, a new furnace or air conditioner could lower your electric bill and give you peace of mind knowing your heating or cooling system won’t break down when you need it most.

Are you renovating?

If you are working on remodeling your home, it may be a good time to replace your furnace and air conditioner. Whether it’s a DIY project or you’ve hired a contractor, you may consider scheduling installation in the midst of the chaos. That way, you can kill two birds with one stone by upgrading your home’s HVAC energy efficiency. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy consistent, comfortable temperatures in your newly renovated spaces.

Who do you trust?

Winter months are often the busiest time for furnace sales. Many homeowners choose to save on delivery and installation by purchasing a furnace and air conditioner at the same time. The key is to find an HVAC contractor you trust. They’ll have great pricing even during peak seasons.

Heating & Cooling Two offers fantastic prices year-round along with coupons, rebates, and financing options. We provide Bryant furnaces and air conditioners with some of the best warranties in the industry. As a family-owned and operated business, we are committed to offering home comfort solutions that fit your needs and budget.

Contact us to learn more.

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Heat Pumps 101

heat pumps 101

Ever wondered how heat pumps work? Grab your pencil and get ready to dive in. We’ve created an introductory course to gear up for the cold season. So without further ado, we present Heat Pumps 101.

What is a heat pump?

Simply put, heat pumps use electricity to absorb heat energy from the cold outside air and transfer it inside using refrigerant. Heat pumps don’t generate heat; they just transfer it.
A heat pump can be used to both heat and cool a home. The condenser and evaporating coil switch roles depending on the directional flow of the refrigerant. Reversing the refrigeration cycle turns your heat pump from an air conditioner to a heater and back again. Within either process, it extracts or supplies heat.

What are the components of a heat pump?

A heat pump has an outdoor unit with a coil and fan. The coil acts as a condenser or evaporator, depending on whether it’s running on cooling or heating mode. The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant and moves it through the coils. The fan blows outside air over the cold coil to absorb heat energy and facilitate the heat exchange.

The indoor unit is basically a mirror of the outdoor unit. The fan blows air over the coil and through the ductwork into the home.

What is refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a fluid that can easily boil from a liquid to a vapor and vice versa. Refrigerant is pushed through a thermal expansion valve within the heat pump that releases pressure and drops its temperature.

Where does a heat pump get its heat?

It may seem contradictory that a heat pump transfers heat from cold, outdoor air. But even subfreezing temperatures have heat energy. Low-pressure, cooled refrigerant in the outdoor coil absorbs heat and changes into a gas. The gas changes back into a liquid when the heat is released inside. It’s pushed through the thermal expansion valve again to cool it down and repeat the cycle.

What does Heating & Cooling Two offer?

Heating & Cooling Two offers Hybrid Heat® dual fuel systems that switch between an electric heat pump and furnace to efficiently warm your home. This system automatically switches between electricity and gas to use the most efficient method, so your utility bills won’t reflect unpredictable fuel cost increases.

Interested in a dual fuel heat pump? Request a free estimate today or contact us to learn more.

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What is the Ideal Indoor Humidity Level?

indoor humidity

Balance is good, especially when it comes to indoor humidity. The right amount of moisture in the air will make your home feel warmer in the winter. Too much, and you risk mold growth. Too little, and you may be more susceptible to viruses. So what is the ideal indoor humidity level?

The Sweet Spot

Too much humidity can cause musty odors, mold growth, condensation or water stains, peeling wallpaper or blistering paint, and aggravated allergies. Low humidity can cause dry skin, nosebleeds, damage to wood furniture and floors, and susceptibility to illness. To avoid these extremes, the ideal range is between 30 and 40 percent relative humidity in the winter.

How Humidity Affects Health

Research shows that increasing humidity levels reduces the ability of airborne viruses to cause flu infections. Viruses and bacteria don’t travel well in moist air. Humid air also makes it more comfortable to sleep because it limits snoring and keeps your nasal passages and throat moist.

How to Get Rid of Dry Air

Thankfully, there are ways to increase the humidity in your home and maintain it at optimum levels:

  • Install a whole house humidifier to work in tandem with your furnace.
  • Add some houseplants to purify the air and replenish moisture.
  • Place water basins near your heating system so the moisture evaporates into the air.
  • Boil water on the stove. Bonus: add your favorite essential oils, herbs/spices, or citrus fruit for scent.
  • Line dry your clothes instead of running the dryer. This will reduce static.

At Heating & Cooling Two, we understand the importance of indoor air quality and offer a variety of accessories to help you maintain a healthy atmosphere in your home. We also provide humidifier filters that trap pollutants so you can rest assured the moist air is cleaned of particles and bacteria before being dispensed.

Need help assessing what your HVAC system needs to keep you comfortable this winter? Trust our experienced technicians for a furnace tune-up. We serve homes and businesses in locations throughout 11 counties in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Request a free estimate.

Contact us to learn more.

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