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 HB Energy Solutions wish you nothing but the best for 2014. Have a safe and happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Holiday greetings from HB Energy Solutions! 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!

What’s Causing That Drain Clog?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

No plumbing problem is more common, or more of daily hassle, than a drain clog. Sometimes you can fix the problem with a basic sink plunger, and other times the clog will steadfastly refuse to go away. When that happens, you can call on a professional plumber to eliminate the trouble. Plumbers like those at HB Energy Solutions have seen every kind of clog imaginable, and they can get rid of the clog that’s stopped up your kitchen or bathroom drain. Call us for any plumbing service in Southern Vermont that you need done.

Here are some of the common causes of drain clogs:

Hair and soap scum

It’s almost impossible to prevent some hair and soap scum from getting into the drains of bathroom sinks and showers. A drain cap will help prevent excess build-up of both; without a cover of some kind, the hair and soap will start to build up in the p-trap (the curved section of pipe beneath the sink) and eventually create a complete clog.

Fat, grease, and oil

This is a common issue with kitchen sink drains. People often assume that liquid fat, grease, and oil are harmless when poured down drains, but this is untrue. Once these liquids dry, they turn into waxy solids that will rapidly begin to coat the inside of drain pipes and eventually lead to extremely difficult, heavy clogs. To avoid this problem, pour fat, grease, and oil into a can and deposit it in the trash.

Damage to the sewer line

The most serious reason for drain clogs is one that goes deeper than the drain pipe itself and originates in the sewer line that carries waste water from your home to the municipal sewer system. If the sewer lines sustains damage (often because of tree roots, landslides, or construction), it will start to back-up drainpipes around your home. If you notice clogs in numerous sinks, you need to have plumbers investigate the sewer line immediately; if not repaired, sewage could begin to flood into the lower parts of your home.

Some drain clogs are simple enough for you to break them apart using a plunger. If the plunger doesn’t work, then don’t turn to caustic and dangerous chemical cleaners: call for professional plumbers to assist. Plumbers can use advanced tools like mechanical drain snakes and hydro-jetters to clean out your drainpipes thoroughly. And if you have a sewer line problem, they can remedy that as well with pipe replacement.

Contact HB Energy Solutions for your professional plumbing service in Southern Vermont. We’re available 24/7.

New Hampshire Heating Tip: How to Choose the Right Heating System for Your Home

Monday, December 9th, 2013

If you are currently looking for a new heating system in your New Hampshire home, the amount of choices you face can feel burdensome. It seems like having many choices should be a positive, but when you consider the consequences of choosing the wrong system to provide you with the heating for a long winter, having so many options will turn stressful.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We’ll show you how to make the right choice for heating your home. HB Energy Solutions has helped heat homes for 21 years, and over that time we’ve developed a strong reputation for reliable and professional work.

How to pick the right heating system

  • First, hire a professional HVAC contractor. Don’t wait until it’s time to install the heater; you want professional opinions from the beginning.
  • Second, have the professionals perform a heat load calculation in your home. This special calculation takes into account multiple factors about your home’s heating requirements, from its size to the number of windows. After the calculation, the installers will have a good sense of what sort of heater will work best for your home, and how large it should be.
  • Third, consider your available power source. If you have access to a natural gas line, that will play an important part in what kind of heater you get: natural gas heaters tend to cost less to run than electrical heaters. If you only have electric power, you will need to focus more on efficiency among the available models, or consider using a propane or oil-powered heater as an alternative.
  • Fourth, consider your budget plans, both short- and long-term. Some heaters cost less to purchase up front and install, but incur higher heating bills and possibly more repairs in the future. Other heaters have high initial prices, but will pay for themselves with their energy savings within a number of years. Talk over the options with the professionals to find what fits best with your budget.

If you follow these steps, you should end up with the optimal heater for your house and your needs. Make sure the professionals who helped you make the choice of heating system also take care of the work installing it, so that your new heater works to the best of its ability for many years to come.

We hope you’ll make HB Energy Solutions your choice for guidance in finding a new home heater. We can take care of all your needs for heating in New Hampshire. We do it all: one call, one company!

How Prompt Heating Repair in Southern Vermont Protects Your Comfort and Your System

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

If you start to experience issues with your heater—a rumbling boiler, a gas furnace with a flickering pilot light, a general loss in heating power—your first instinct might be just to ignore it. Maybe it’s nothing and it will go away soon. However, this rarely occurs. When your heater shows signs of a malfunction, you need to have prompt repairs performed on it. Call a professional HVAC contractor (try to find one with 24-hour emergency service) and summon their assistance. Leaving small repairs until later usually means big trouble sooner—both for your comfort and for your heating system.

For the necessary heating repair in Southern Vermont, look to HB Energy Solutions. We have over two decades of experience. And yes, we offer 24/7 emergency service.

Why prompt heating repair is so important

The reason that getting timely repairs done on your heating system is crucial is that malfunctions tend to increase and cause a chain reaction of other malfunctions. This will lead to your heating system requiring a serious and expensive repair to keep it operating. As your heater continues to decline, your comfort will suffer as the system begins to struggle to maintain the warmth you expect. Something that seems simple, like cracks in a blower motor fan belt, can quickly turn into a major problem when the belt breaks loose and begins to strike other components in the cabinet. Problems with wiring that sound minor won’t seem so when they start tripping circuit breakers and continually cutting off the power.

Eventually, unattended repair needs will lead to your heater shutting down entirely until emergency repairs restore it. You know when this will happen, right? Correct, it will happen on the coldest day of the year. This isn’t some invisible hand of fate at work; it’s because the heater will be pushed to the limits of its ability on that day, leading to those malfunctions that will finally cause it to break down.

However, you can avoid the need for emergency calls to get your heater back in operation with regular preventive maintenance and care. If you enroll your heater in a maintenance program that provides an annual check-up and tune-up so that it runs its best, you will encounter far fewer repair issues and enjoy better comfort throughout the year.

Whether you need immediate heating repairs or you want to start with regular maintenance, contact HB Energy Solutions. One call to us will have your problems taken care of. We have served Southern Vermont with heating repair and maintenance for 21 years. Join our family of satisfied clients today.