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What Was It Like In 1959?

wah157 years ago. The year is 1959. Alaska becomes the 49th State and Hawaii becomes the 50th State of the United States of America. Xerox launches the first commercial copier. The Boeing 707 Airliner comes into service cutting 8 hours off transatlantic flight. Fidel Castro comes to power in Cuba. An iconic fashion doll is created by Ruth Handler and introduced by Mattel – Barbie dolls will easily remain the most popular fashion dolls for decades to come. West Allis Heating & Cooling Service is established by United States Marine, Floyd Brink.

Although establishment of West Allis Heating & Cooling did not quite make it to the history books, we fondly remember the year of our company’s inception and can see how much times have really changed since 1959.

Heating Fuel
In 1959, 75% of furnaces in homes used coal or wood for heating fuel.
By the year 2000, less than 2% of households still used coal or wood for home heating.
Now most homes in southeastern Wisconsin use natural gas for heating.

Although cooling had long been invented and was being utilized in certain situations, in 1959 fans and open windows were still the primary means of cooling homes. It was a rare luxury to see a central air conditioning system in a residential home.
Now, 76% of homes in the Midwest have a central air conditioning system.

Cost of Living
The average cost of a new house in 1959 was $ 12,400.00
In 2016, the average cost of a new house is $ 365,600.00

The average cost of a gallon of gas in 1959 was $ .25 (yes that’s right, 25 cents)
In 2016, after many highs and lows, the average cost of a gallon of gas is $ 2.40

The average cost of a new car in 1959 was $ 2,200.00
In 2016, the average cost of a new car is $ 33,000.00

The average cost of a movie ticket in 1959 was $ 1.00
In 2016, the average cost of a movie ticket is $ 8.66

The average cost of a loaf of bread in 1959 was $ .20 (20 cents)
In 2016, the average cost for a loaf of bread is $ 2.32

57 years ago, furnace replacements were hundreds of dollars, now they are thousands. With time comes inflation. The HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) industry is no exception. Like every industry we have seen costs consistently go up over the last 5 decades. We think it’s nice to think of a time when people spend as much, make as much or need as much. Clearly many things have changed since 1959, but one thing has stayed the same and that is West Allis Heating & Air Conditioning’s steadfast dedication to providing quality, professional service and an excellent customer experience every time.

Heating & Cooling Evolution


From the earliest days of civilization, humans have utilized home comfort options offered by West Allis Heating (well, since 1959 anyway). Our simplest source of heat, the sun, started out as our only source of heat. As you can imagine, business was very slow back then. People soon realized we could make fire with wood – and by containing and controlling it, we could use that for heating. Genius!

By the 16th century alternative fuel options, such as coal, were being introduced. Messy and inefficient, coal continued to be the dominant fuel source for various home heating methods through the 1930’s. Although some may have enjoyed it, there is rarely an opportunity to stoke the coal fire anymore. Now gas and oil fired furnaces and boilers have taken over and made it easier than ever to heat your home.

The idea of home cooling developed a bit later as people were generally not as warm in the old days (guessing by the attire). In 1886 the electric fan was introduced and this was the primary form of cooling in most homes for decades. This worked well for air exchange and movement, but did nothing to combat humidity.

At last, in 1902, the first air conditioner was built to combat humidity problems at a printing facility. This new air conditioning technology was so extremely expensive that only the luxuriously wealthy, theaters and government offices were installing air conditioners at first.

By the 1950’s residential thru-window and central air conditioning systems were being introduced to the masses. Central air conditioning allowed for the development and growth of such great cities in extremely hot climates as Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Miami.

We have come so far in home comfort! Heating and central air conditioning systems have truly changed the way we live. We can now be comfortable 24/7 in our homes, at a shopping mall, or in a casino resort regardless of the outdoor conditions. Research and development teams all over the world continue to use innovative technologies in heating and cooling to benefit each homeowner while striving to reduce energy usage. Some of the exciting innovations we as an industry are working on:

-Don’t like all the energy used by central air conditioning?
A new low-energy form of cooling is in the works, which cools the person rather than the space. It is motion activated and mists a person with a cool spray when they walk by.

-How about that guest bedroom or den you only use once in a blue moon?
Developers are working on sensors that monitor indoor comfort components such as temperature and air pressure for each room individually. Using an app you will be able to easily customize the comfort in each room of your house without installing a zoning system.

-Computers are still a wave of the future?
Indeed they are for home comfort applications. Researchers are working on a way to “capture” the heat emitted from electronic devices and use it to heat our homes. This would help us all to reduce, reuse and recycle!

-What’s available now?
Thermostats have come a long way from the round mercury-filled approximaters we used to install. Smart thermostats have gone far beyond programming temperature and now offer ways to control your heating, cooling, indoor air quality and humidification systems on your tablet or smartphone from wherever you are.
Asthma and allergy sufferers should know that indoor air quality and humidification products have also come a long way. Whole home humidification as well as hospital grade air cleaners and purifiers are now available for residential applications.

The Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry is constantly changing and evolving. We are truly excited about the amazing technologies West Allis Heating & Air Conditioning can offer you now and we look forward to bringing you more in the future.

The West Allis Heating Difference

When researching heating and cooling contractors, people are often inclined to choose a contractor based on price alone.  We suggest you consider other factors before deciding to build a relationship with a heating and cooling provider.  Here we have detailed many aspects of West Allis Heating & Air Conditioning that make us different from other heating and cooling contractors.
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Emergency Furnace Repair

No Heat? Don’t panic! If your furnace has stopped working, you are not alone. Many homeowners find themselves in the dead of winter with a non-functional furnace. Don’t panic and rush into making a decision about whom to allow into your home for service. Here are a few things to consider before you let a technician into your home:

• Is the technician from a legitimate business or is he a “fly-by-nighter?” Legitimate heating contractors will have a backlog of service calls to make during extreme temperatures. You should hesitate to have the person out who has time when no other company seems to. “Fly by nighters” always have time to take your money. What they do not have time for is the follow up service to make sure your equipment is functioning as it should. They generally don’t take the required permits for the work they do and are not licensed or insured. You are better off waiting for a day or two, or paying the overtime emergency service rate for a legitimate contractor to come to your home.
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We’re In Love – With Our CMA Customers

Let’s face it – heating and cooling equipment is very expensive! After spending all that money, most homeowners recognize the need to take care of and protect their investment. Consistent preventative maintenance will add years to the life expectancy of your heating and cooling equipment.

Our Comfort Maintenance Agreement (CMA) customers are the model homeowners that are responsible and proactive when it comes to care of their heating and cooling equipment. If you are not already a West Allis Heating CMA customer, you can contact us to get signed up and feel the love. As a CMA customer you will know the maintenance we provide will keep your equipment running efficiently and reliably.
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Service Features and Benefits


                        FEATURE                                                               BENEFIT TO CUSTOMER

We have been in business since 1959

We’ve done thousands of installations

We’ve made thousands of repairs

We know the climate, the codes and the construction in this area so we know what works and what doesn’t.  The job gets done right, saving you money.

We’re family owned and operated

We’re locally owned and operated

Personalized service and accountability.

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Repair or Replace?

Air conditioner repairmanAs homeowners, we are often faced with a major decision regarding our household appliances: Repair the existing unit or replace it with a new one?

Although much of this can depend on your personal financial situation as well as the specific circumstances, there are some things to consider that may assist you in making the right decision for your home.
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How to Select a New Furnace

Select the right furnace for your home

How do you select the right furnace for your home? There are several important considerations involved.

You can’t escape it: Wisconsin winters take a huge toll on your heating system as well as spiking your energy costs. Operating an old, worn out, inefficient furnace results in significantly higher heating costs, wasted fuel, and a higher rate of furnace pollution.

There are several factors to consider in selecting a new furnace.

Start with the condition of your home
Where are the areas where there’s possible heat loss? Drafts? Has a remodeling project altered the overall square footage, placing extra demand on heating equipment? Likewise, an over-sized furnace costs substantially more to operate because it typically cycles on and off more, putting more wear on its components and increasing operating costs.
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The Importance of a Furnace Tune-Up

It's important to get regular tune-ups for your furnace

It's important to get regular tune-ups for your furnace. Learn the basics of what's needed.

Many Wisconsin homeowners schedule an annual furnace tune-up to ensure their heating systems will run at maximum efficiency during the cold winter months. Operating a dirty furnace or boiler can cause future damage and shorten equipment life span by up to 10 years—not to mention running the risk of inconvenient, emergency breakdowns in the dead of winter.

Symptoms of a Dirty Furnace
If you’ve lived in your house a few years, you are probably familiar with the comfort levels your heating system normally provides. You should schedule a tune-up if you notice any of the following anomalies:

  • Certain duct or heat registers don’t heat as efficiently;
  • Your gas bill is higher than normal;
  • Indoor air quality leads you to suspect that ductwork needs to be cleaned.

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Heating and Cooling Maintenance Tips

Your furnace and AC units need regular maintenance

Your furnace and AC units need regular maintenance. Do you know what needs to be done?

Have your  furnace and A/C maintained yearly. Like a car, a furnace and/or A/C is full of moving parts that need to be serviced. Newer furnaces condense water internally, making it critical to flush/clean the internal hose assembly to avoid water backup, which leads to costly repairs. Burner service is also critical to avoid de-rating a furnace’s efficiency and keep the furnace running safely.

The cleaning of the A/C coil is important because when the coils start plugging up, pressure builds up in the system, causing a refrigerant leak.

Proper maintenance on a system will mean the difference between a 5- to 10-year life expectancy and a 15- to 20-year life expectancy. Continue reading