HOW EXACTLY DOES A HEAT PUMP WORK?

If you’ve found yourself considering residential HVAC options lately, then you have most likely come across the term “heat pump” by now. What you may not realize, though, if you’ve only done some perfunctory research, is that the heat pump is not actually a designated, heating-only system. In fact, heat pumps are able to both heat and cool homes, offering the owners of those homes the ability to heat and cool their living spaces with just one system. This means that you can live in great comfort all year long without having to switch over from your AC to your heater. This is why so many homeowners have decided to install heat pumps in Houston, TX. To learn more or to schedule service, just give Expert Air Cooling And Heating a call today.

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VALENTINE’S DAY: PAGAN REVELRY, CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE, AND 14TH CENTURY POETRY

What do you think of when you think of Valentine’s Day? Perhaps rushing off to the stationary store after work to choose the perfect card with which to express your feelings towards a loved one? Dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant? Roses, dark chocolates, and other gifts and confections? Whatever Valentine’s Day may look like to you, chances are that it is a far cry from the history surrounding this holiday – or at least we hope so. Here are a few interesting facts about this most romantic of holidays, from your friends here at Expert Air Cooling & Heating.

The fact of the matter is that there is no definitive history as to how Valentine’s Day came to be. There are a few different saints with variations of the name Valentine, for example. One of the most prevalent legends, and one certainly in keeping with the romantic nature of the holiday as we know it today, pertains to a priest serving during the 3rd century in Rome. Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, who believed that young men made for better soldiers if unfettered by marriage, it was illegal for young men to marry. A true believer in love, Valentine would marry young couples in secret. Until, at least, he was found out, and met a very unpleasant end for his crimes.

Like many of our modern holidays, Valentine’s Day can also be traced back to pagan ritual. Lupercalia, as the pagan festival is known, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, a god of agriculture. As is often the case with Roman celebrations, the details of this celebration are unfit to detail here. Suffice to say that, while there is certainly a touch of the amorous in the proceedings, the festival was a far cry from what we associate with Valentine’s Day today.

How, then, did our modern version of Valentine’s Day come to be? The answer may lie in, of all places, 14th century poetry; particularly, in the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer. Famed for his Canterbury Tales, Chaucer may well be the very first writer to associate Valentine’s Day with romantic love, in the manner of which we are familiar with it today. His The Parliament of Fowls details the dream-vision of a narrator consumed with the idea of romantic love and the natural order of finding a mate. Valentine’s Day is mentioned by name a number of times, as the narrator witnesses a parliament of eagles vying for the hand – or, perhaps more aptly, the wing – of a mate.

Whatever you may think of the holiday’s sordid and convoluted history, we here at Expert Air Cooling & Heating hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with the special someone in your life.

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THE HISTORY OF “AULD LANG SYNE”

There are numerous different traditional songs associated with Christmas—but there is only one song that comes to mind immediately when people think of New Year’s Eve: “Auld Lang Syne.” It is hard to find a New Year’s Eve party where people won’t leap into singing “Should old acquaintance be forgot…” as the first stroke of midnight sounds. This tradition encompasses the globe, with almost every culture that celebrates New Year’s on January 1st breaking into song with the same set of lyrics.

Where did this song come from? And what do the words “auld lang syne” actually mean? The best place to ask these questions is Scotland. The Official Gateway to Scotland website calls the song “one of Scotland’s gifts to the world, recalling the love and kindness of days gone by, but in the communion of taking our neighbor’s hands, it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take us into the future.”

The melody of the piece originates from Lowland Scots folk song tradition. It was legendary Scottish Romantic poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) who created the words we know today, however. During the later years of his life, Burns dedicated much of his work to collecting Scottish folk tunes and giving them new life. The first mention Burns makes of “Auld Lang Syne” is in 1788, when he calls the song “a glorious fragment.” Burns wrote new lyrics to the old melody, and used the words “auld lang syne,” which is Scottish for “old long since,” and which can be translated into standard English as “long, long ago” or “days gone by.” The phrase was already known in earlier Scottish poems and folk songs, and appears to be the equivalent of “Once upon a time…” for Scots fairy tales.

Soon after Burns introduced the song to the public, it spread across Scotland as a New Year’s custom, and then to the rest of Great Britain. Scottish immigrants took the song with them as they moved across the globe, and by the middle of the 19th century it was a holiday tradition throughout the English-speaking world. By the close of the 20th century, it was a global phenomenon to ring in the New Year.

We imagine that you’ll end up singing or hearing “Auld Lang Syne” at some point this New Year’s (maybe you’ve already heard it while watching It’s a Wonderful Life).

All of us at Expert Air Cooling and Heating would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy coming year in the tradition of the song.

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5 FACTS ABOUT SANTA CLAUS

Many holiday traditions involve the story of Santa Claus, the lovable old man who spends most of his time at the North Pole taking a single evening to deliver presents and candy to children everywhere. But since Santa Claus is so elusive (unless he happens to be visiting your local shopping mall), how do we know so much about him? Where exactly does his journey begin? Our holiday guide details 5 of the most common traditions associated with Jolly Old Saint Nick.

1. The Origins of Santa: The name “Santa Claus” comes from St. Nicholas (a name which became Sinter Klaas for short in Dutch), a Christian Bishop from 4 A.D. who was known for giving his fortune away to those in need in Turkey. Santa Claus’ first associations with gift-giving comes from Holland’s St. Nicholas’ feast day, during which children would leave out their shoes overnight and find presents waiting inside the shoes on the next morning.

2. The Stocking by the Chimney: While many people associate Holland’s shoe tradition with the origins of hanging a stocking, this isn’t entirely accurate. Hanging stockings instead comes from the legend of a time St. Nick helped a man afford to marry off his daughter by throwing a bag of gold down the chimney, which landed in a stocking that was hanging up to dry.

3. St. Nick’s Outfit: Santa got his fashion sense from a wooden cutout handed out during a meeting of the New York Historical Society in 1804. But it wasn’t until a 1930s Coca Cola advertisement that his traditionally blue, white, and green outfit was transformed into a big red suit.

4. Leaving Cookies out for Santa: Food was traditionally used as ornamentation during the holidays in medieval Germany as apples and cookies commonly adorned the home at wintertime. When the Christmas tree became a common symbol of the season, edible treats began to vanish, a phenomenon which became attributed to Santa Claus’ snacking habits.

5. Why Santa Drives a Sleigh: Santa gets his sleigh from a tale spun by Washington Irving, the same author who brought us the Headless Horseman. He wrote down an account of a dream in which Santa Claus drives a weightless wagon through the sky, and the stories became so popular, they stuck around.

Here at Expert Air Cooling and Heating, we hope that you have a joyful and safe celebration, no matter what holiday traditions you engage in this year. Happy holidays!

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WILL THANKSGIVING TURKEY REALLY MAKE YOU SLEEPY?

We’ve all heard it before: you feel so sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal because of the main event: the turkey. For years, people have credited extraordinary levels of tryptophan in turkey as the reason we all feel the need to nap after the annual feast. But contrary to this popular mythology, tryptophan is probably not he largest responsible party for your post-meal exhaustion.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it’s something that our bodies need but do not produce naturally. Your body uses tryptophan to help make vitamin B3 and serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that sends chemicals to the brain to aid in sleep. But in order to get this essential amino acid, we have to eat foods that contain it.

Turkey has somewhat high levels of tryptophan, but so do many other foods, including eggs, peanuts, chocolate, nuts, bananas, and most other meats and dairy products. In fact, ounce-for-ounce cheddar cheese contains a greater amount of tryptophan than turkey. In order for tryptophan to make you feel sleepy, you would have to consume it in excessive amounts, and serotonin is usually only produced by tryptophan on an empty stomach.

The truth is, overeating is largely responsible for the “food coma” many people describe post-Thanksgiving. It takes a lot of energy for your body to process a large meal, and the average Thanksgiving plate contains about twice as many calories as is recommended for daily consumption. If anything, high levels of fat in the turkey cause sleepiness, as they require a lot of energy for your body to digest. Lots of carbohydrates, alcohol, and probably a bit of stress may also be some of the reasons it feels so satisfying to lay down on the couch after the meal and finally get a little bit of shut-eye.

If you feel the need to indulge in a heaping dose of tryptophan this year, go ahead! Turkey also contains healthy proteins and may even provide a boost for your immune system.

Here at Expert Air Cooling and Heating, we hope your Thanksgiving is full of joy and contentment this year. Happy feasting!

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