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Fall just started, but before we know it, winter will be here. Heaters will be run, comfortable blankets and fires will be used, and hot chocolate will become a nightly treat.

With the cooler weather, there is usually a decline in the amount of time spent outdoors and the amount of time that windows are left open to let in a breeze. All of this will contribute to an increase in indoor air pollutants, especially if you choose not to run your air because the weather feels “just right”.

Chemicals and pollutants are present in your home year-round, but in the summer, spring and fall, we are either outdoors more or we make sure to leave the windows open so we can take advantage of the great breezes that come through.  In the winter, however, given that we keep the windows closed and spend more time indoors, we create an environment for these pollutants to grow and make a negative impact in our home.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to keep that indoor air at a good quality and we’d love to share that with you!

1. Check your filters.  Make sure you filters are clean and fresh.  In the winter, your filters will fill up faster with these indoor air pollutants and once the filter is at capacity, those pollutants will them escape into the air in your home.

2. Consider an air filtration system.  An air filtration system can remove up to 99.98% of indoor allergens.

With Thanksgiving a little over a month away, I can picture the home decorations, the smell of Thanksgiving dinner and most importantly, the taste of that pumpkin pie!

So, I thought, “What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving time than to share some pumpkin recipes with the readers?” And, here we are!

Pumpkin Turkey Chili [via]

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cans pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 dash salt
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and saute the onion, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and garlic until tender. Stir in the turkey, and cook until evenly brown. Drain, and mix in tomatoes and pumpkin. Season with chili powder, pepper, and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve topped with Cheddar cheese and sour cream.

 

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese [via]

Ingredients:

2 cups dried elbow macaroni
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
4 oz Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 tbsp snipped fresh sage
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.  For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an ungreased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.  In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.

 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce [via]

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter, for the pan
8 cups 1/2-inch cubed  Pumpkin Bread, or other bread
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tbsp bourbon
Whipped cream, for serving
Caramel Apple Sauce

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 10-inch glass baking dish.

2. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake in the oven, turning once, until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

3. Combine the cream, milk, and vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

4. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined. Discard the vanilla bean and whisk in the bourbon.

5. Scatter the pumpkin bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.

6. Place the dish in a larger roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and the water bath and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

7. Serve the warm bread pudding topped with whipped cream and drizzled with spicy caramel apple sauce . Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds if desired.

 

We at Casteel have always valued you, our customers! We wanted to give back to you all by hosting the “You-Name-It Shopping Spree”. We finally have a winner…drumroll please!

Congratulations to our “You-Name-It Shopping Spree” Sweepstakes winner, Eric D. of Canton! He won a $50 AMEX gift card! Enjoy Eric 🙂 Thank you to everyone else who participated!

Stay up to date on our Facebook and Twitter pages for any sweepstakes in the future!

How many times do we have to tell you, winter is right around the corner! We know you can feel the chill in the air. Make sure your furnace is in it’s best shape before it’s too late! Take advantage of our $79 Fall/Winter Efficiency Tune-Up deal!

We check over 25 different points in our tune up, everything from checking for carbon monoxide leaks to checking your pilot assembly. Call us today or schedule your appointment online.

Think you have to buy a new heating and cooling system in every room? Well, think again! Temperature zoning makes it possible for everyone to be comfortable in every room.

What is a temperature zoning system you ask? In essence, it is a system that allows a consistent temperature in any given region of your home, regardless of the outdoor conditions. No matter sun, rain or snow. To make it simple, each area will have its own climate.

How do I know if I need a temperature zoning system?

  • Does your home have multiple levels and/or levels that are completely or partially underground?
  • Do you have rooms that are rarely used or certain family members that prefer a different temperature in their room?
  • Do you have rooms in your house can be noticeably cooler or hotter during a certain season or time of day?
  • If any of the following apply to you, you may want to consider a temperature zoning system.

    A temperature zoning system is a great addition to almost any home. The temperature distribution in your home is constantly being affected by sun exposure, rain, humidity, walls, ceilings, and windows insulation quality. A temperature zoning system from Casteel will not only help control the temperature in different rooms but it will also save you money on energy bills. Who doesn’t love that?

    At Casteel we understand that energy costs are starting to rise and the global climate is changing. Going green doesn’t have to stop at recycling. If you are looking for an energy alternative- look no further. Residential solar panels for your home are something to be considered. They are a great investment to help keep your electric bill down and help contribute to society’s effort to stop global warming. Still not convinced? Here’s the top 5 benefits of solar energy from Renewable energy development.

    Top 5 Reasons for Solar Energy

  • It is not only sustainable energy, but it is also renewable.
  • The use of solar energy requires very little maintenance.
  • They are silent! No more noisy generators!
  • Solar energy technology is constantly improving and making it more affordable for everyone.
  • Solar electric power plants produce zero emissions. Leaving no mark on the environment.
  • Not only will solar energy help you get a peace a mind about your impact on the environment, it also contributes to many new jobs. According to a CNN article, solar energy’s employment base grew 6.8% the past year which equals more than 100,000 jobs. It is expected to grow by 24% next year!

    Solar energy panels are a great investment for your home. Start the trend in your neighborhood! You will not only be helping the environment but you will be supporting jobs in this tough economy!

    “Wait, wait an audit?!” Yes, but this audit has real potential to save you some money! Not only are our audits extremely thorough, but we run a series of tests throughout your home to maximize your utility bill savings. So what kind of tests do we run?

    • Insulation R-rating for walls, attic, and foundation
    • Heating and cooling equipment
    • Whole house air leakage (blower door test)
    • Ductwork leakage
    • Electrical and lighting analysis
    • Water heater and water usage
    • Carbon monoxide
    • Flue draft

    So what are the benefits?

    • Eliminate energy wastefulness
    • Enhance your home’s comfort
    • Reduce toxic indoor air pollutants
    • Upgrade your home’s safety
    • Exceed new government environmental and energy-consumption standards
    • Decrease dependence on energy sources from outside the United States
    • Maximize the resale value of your home

    Casteel’s experienced professionals work with you during this process to help you understand how the audit’s results can save you money. We will also interview you to find out what you envision as your ideal energy-efficient home. At the end of this process, we will give you a no-obligation quote on how we can make your ideal energy efficient home a reality. For more information on getting a home energy audit visit us at www.casteelair.com, or contact us at 770-565-5884.

    Saving money by going green is now on a time limit. If you have ever considered green upgrades to your home, we suggest you seriously think about doing it soon. Energy-efficient tax breaks are over at the end of this year. The maximum tax break for green upgrades this year is $500, and next year it will be $0. Yes we know, upgrades can be expensive, but think through all of your options for the long term. For more insight on this issue, check out this article we found at Marketwatch.com.

    Last week we wrote about copper theft and its effect on your wallet, and we also gave some preventative options to consider. If you’re serious about protecting your A/C investments and yourself against copper theft, refrigerant alarm systems are the way to go.

    While other systems are only triggered after the damage has been done which can mean extra money in repair costs, there are various types of refrigerant alarm systems to consider:

    • Pressure Sensors
    • Voltage Sensors
    • Self Contained Alarm Systems
    • Monitored Alarm Systems

    According to Robert W. Frederick and Associates, monitored alarm systems are generally the best way to go in terms of early detection and additional cost prevention. These systems are connected to a home alarm system, and when a theft is detected the alarm is immediately sounded. Once the alarm has been triggered, the monitoring company is contacted and the police dispatched. Monitored alarm systems are highly sensitive. If the wiring is being tampered with or even if the power is shut off, the alarm will still sound if theft is detected.

    Since everyone has different needs, there isn’t a “one size fits all” refrigerant alarm system. Because we care about our customers, we recommend you research the systems we have mentioned above. Researching will give you a better understanding of which system would be the best fit for your specific needs. It is always better to spend $400-$600 in prevention than spend anywhere from $3,000-$14,000 in repairs or replacement.

    Casteel’s SpaDreams Sweepstakes starts this Saturday, June 25, 2011. Entering couldn’t be easier! First, you have to “Like” our Facebook page. Once you have “Liked” our page you are all ready to enter! (If you’ve already “Liked” our page, simply click on the Sweepstakes tab under the profile image on the left). You can enter once daily, everyday for the duration of the sweepstakes (please see Sweepstakes Rules for complete details). The more days that you enter, the higher your chance is to win! At the end of the week, we choose the winner randomly, then notify them via email. ‘What is the prize,’ you ask? Well, we are giving away a $120 gift card to SpaDreams Day Spa. Oh, and did we mention that this is weekly?! Be sure to stop back on Saturday morning to enter!

    Spa dreams offers a wide range of services to fit your needs. Some of the services they offer are:

    Massage Therapy
    Alternative / Specialty Massages
    Facial Therapy
    Epicuren Facial Therapy
    Microdermabrasion
    Waxing Services
    Body Facial
    Manicure I Pedicure
    Series Pricing
    SpaDreams Packages


    Don’t keep this news to yourself … with 52 (yes, that’s right … 52) gift cards to give away, be sure to tell all of your friends to visit our Facebook page to enter.