Tips for Attending Webinars

A few folks have mentioned they had issues attending GoToWebinar, Zoom, Skype, or WebEx meetings.  There are multitudes of reasons why someone may have an individual technical issue, but here are some general tips.

Because of COVID-19, many of you are watching these from home and a LOT of your neighbors are also working from home this month.  If you have cable internet, the more users in your area, the less bandwidth for you.  On days when I am broadcasting a webinar, I go to my office where we have dedicated internet service to avoid that issue.  On days where I am attending web training (but not teaching), I have worked from home with minimal issues, but I do have some recommendations for you.

  1. Assume the issue is on your end.  It is probably not the presenter and it is probably not the tool (Zoom, GoToWebinar, etc.).  It is most likely your computer, your internet connection, or you.  LOL
  2. Test your device in advance using these links:
  3. Ban your kids from online gaming (Xbox, PlayStation, etc) while you are on the web meeting.  Same with Netflix or other internet based movie or video services.  These are bandwidth intensive.
  4. Login 5-10 minutes early so if you have an issue you have some time to deal with it.  Also, some hosts have been exceeding the attendee limit of the service they use, so logging in early insures you have a seat.
  5. When you connect, if you are given the option of watching from a web browser or installing a viewer/launcher on your computer, choose the later.  Install the software now if you have not done so in the past.  Here are the links:
  6. Figure out the audio.  Each of the web tools has different ways to connect audio with mic/speakers or dial-up phone.  If you cannot hear (or cannot speak) you may need to select an audio connection method in that specific tool once you are logged in.  Also don’t forget that your computer speakers themselves could also be muted.  Another reason to join the meeting 5 minutes early.
  7. If you are the one speaking or presenting, invest in an external microphone or headset.  The ones built-in to laptops are not that great.  They work fine to ask a question or two as an attendee, but if you are talking for 30 minutes or more, it may be rough for the others to understand you with a sub-par mic.
  8. If you are having an issue connecting to the meeting to begin with, try these options:
    • Make sure your browser is not blocking any pop-ups.  And if there is a pop-up to launch the meeting make sure you click on it.
    • Reboot the computer (this fixes half the issues in my life)
    • Reboot your router (this fixes the other half of the issues LOL)
    • Try to connecting using an alternate browser.  I use Chrome as my primary web browser and have had no issues with any of the web meeting services.  But whenever any other web based tool in my life has an issue, I always try another browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.).
    • Try using an alternate device.  See if you can connect from a different computer or tablet.
    • Try using an alternate Internet connection such as a phone hot spot (even if just for 2 minutes as a test so you can eliminate some variables in your troubleshooting).
  9. Download the mobile apps for each of these tools so you have them as a plan B.  It is obviously harder to watch on a smaller screen, but at least you can still participate.  GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Skype, and WebEx all have mobile apps.

There are other services that you may be invited to use for a virtual meeting, so you will need to do something similar.  TEC has video conferencing through 8×8 so you may be using that.  I had one company send me a Microsoft Teams link to a conference.  I have attended a couple on Join.Me, which is the same parent company as GoToMeeting but uses different technology.  In those cases, try to login 15 minutes early and see if it gives any options to run a test or to download a software applet.

Upcoming and recorded webinars can be found at

Cartoon credit:

Tips for Air Quality at Your Home

I have received many questions from you asking, “What should I do at my house?”  I put the below info together to help you out.  These are just my opinions, as I am not a biologist or medical professional (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once).  These tips are what you should all be doing all of the time anyway.  For those that do not know, I have four kids ages 5 to 14.  Those kids hang out in petri dishes that we call schools where germs exist daily.  Nevertheless, those four have only missed maybe a combined total of a dozen days of school ever.  My 12 year old has only missed school one time in his life.  If someone at my house gets sick, the rest of us do not get it.  These are proven solutions in the industry and in my own home.

  1. Follow CDC Guidelines – Obviously, observe all of recommendations you already heard regarding hand washing, social distancing, etc.
  2. Ventilate the House
    • Indoor air quality is much worse than outdoor air quality in almost every location on the planet.  Sealing your house up tight and sitting in it is just plain dumb.  Dilution is the Solution.
    • Go outside to get fresh air – just because we were advised to stay AT home does not mean we have to stay IN the home.  Use your yard.  Throw some chicken on the grill (if you can find any chicken lately).  Shoot hoops in the driveway.  Go for a walk.
    • Bring fresh air into the home
      1. If your duct system has an outside fresh air intake, make sure it is not obstructed.  If it has a damper on it, open it.  If it has one of those automated damper controllers, you should consider disabling it so it is always open.  If you have an HRV or ERV, make sure it is running 24/7.
      2. If you don’t have a fresh air system (and many of you likely do not), crack open a few windows.
    • Remove “bad air” from the home.  Many of you have not used your kitchen this much in years.  Make sure you are running the hood exhaust fan while using the gas stove or oven… or see my note above about grilling outside.  Also, make sure your gas dryer vent is clear.  While you are at it, check to make sure all of you other gas appliances (water heater, furnace, fireplace, etc.) are venting correctly and never back drafting.
  3. Filter the Air
    • Make sure your furnace has a clean filter.
    • Preferably use a filter with a MERV 13 rating or higher, but make sure it is a 3 or 4-inch wide filter.  If you get a high MERV rating filter that is only 1 inch wide (such as those filters they sell at some retail stores) it is likely going to be too pressure restrictive for your system and could cause furnace issues.  For many of you, this means you will need a wider filter rack.  Look at the Cor, Carrier, or Bryant EZ Flex filter cabinet.  It can hold a MERV 10 filter or upgraded to a MERV 13 filter.  If you already have the rack (or similar older version), buy the MERV 13 filters and swap them.  If you do not have this rack, consider having one of our residential dealers install it for you.  We also have similar options from Honeywell.
    • If you are in the market for a new filter system, we also have the Carrier Infinity Air Purifier and Bryant Evolution Air Purifiers.  They feature Capture & Kill technology, so not only are they MERV 15 rated for filtration ability, but they have been proven to kill viruses, bacteria, and mold. 
    • If you have the outside ventilation duct that I mentioned in the above section, add an inexpensive 1” low-end filter on just that small duct.  This way the more expensive main MERV 13+ filter will not need to be changed as often.
  4. Purify the Air
    • This is where all of the discussion is at and there are several options depending on your situation including the above-mentioned Carrier/Bryant filter-based air purifiers.
    • Take a look at Photo Catalytic Oxidation (PCO) technology. We have proven and tested solutions from both Respicaire and Honeywell. These bulbs need to be changed annually.
    • At step up from standard PCO devices, is a Respicaire OXY4. It has a 4th oxidizer (hence the name) to help with air purification. It is very quick to install on almost any existing duct systems.  Before your installer mounts it, have them open it up and make sure the metal clips are rotated to expose most of the bulb surface.  These OXY4 devices have 3rd party test data showing their ability to kill viruses, bacteria, and mold in the air.  This has been our best selling air purifier for the past couple of years.
    • Do not rely on standard UV Lights.  Regular UV lights are fantastic at killing bacteria and mold on your evaporator coil.  However, they need a long “shine time” on something to kill germs.  Long means hours.  Therefore, while they do keep your system clean, they do not really clean the air passing though because it moves too quickly. I am not saying that you should not get one of these, but rather that its purpose in life does not help reduce virus spread.  The previously mentioned air purifier products from Honeywell and Respicaire do have UV lights in them, but they also have other components to generate Oxidizers.  They are very different from standard UV lights.
  5. Humidify the Air – I am not a huge fan of humidifiers (for multiple reasons, which I can explain in later blogs).  However, if you do have a humidifier, consider raising the humidity to 35%.  Listening to multiple biologists speak this week, it seems most viruses struggle when in humidity in the 35 to 55% range.
  6. Circulate the Air – In order for the above things to work, such as ventilation, filters, and purifiers, they need the air to be moving.  You need to switch your thermostat from “fan auto” to “fan on” mode so it runs all of time and allows these solutions to do their jobs.  Many of you have debated with me about running the fan continuous… and know that I am normally not an advocate of constant fan mode in all applications (once again, for reasons I can explain in future blogs)… but whenever someone in my house is sick, I switch my fan to run constant 24/7.  I have done the same this month as an extra precaution.
  7. Embrace the “free time” – If your house is like mine, as soon as you get home from work each evening the chaos of sports practices, school homework, and everything else piles up.  We often would go weeks without all 6 of us eating dinner together at the same time (no joke).  In addition, some of you have college kids that you never see… they come home one weekend a month (or less) and you only notice them about 3 hours during that stretch because of their social lives and long sleeping habits.  This may be the only time in all of our lives where our entire families are together for an extended period.  Game nights and movie nights are things again.  Go have a catch outside.  Family bike ride.  Enjoy the only benefit of this crappy situation… family time.

What do we have at our house?  We have an outside air intake, a Carrier Infinity air furifier filter, a Respicaire OXY4 air purifier, and a variable speed continuously running fan system.  We do not have a humidifier, but we are at 42% in house today without it.

Talk to one of our many local Bryant, Carrier, Heil, or Day & Night dealers and have them help you update your home HVAC system.

Aeroseal Duct Sealing at Loyola Cudahy Library

Loyola Cudahy Library, Chicago, IL – Completed 2/2/16 

After a remodel of the Loyola Cudahy Library, the ductwork needed to be sealed in order to comply with code. To accomplish this, Aeroseal Solutions, Inc of McHenry, IL performed the Aeroseal duct sealing method in order to reduce the leakage.

Initial Leakage: 656 cfm

Final Leakage: 16.8 cfm  

RESULT: 97.4% Reduction in Leakage









 97.6% reduction in duct leakage                                        97.1% reduction in duct leakage







  96.9% reduction in duct leakage                                        98.4% reduction in duct leakage


Aeroseal Duct Sealing at Iconic Wrigley Building

Wrigley Building, Chicago, IL – Completed 11/28/15

During a remodel of the 9th Floor of the Wrigley Building, when walls                             were torn down and the duct was exposed, the General Contractor was made aware of air pouring out of the duct work as a result of gaps causing leakage. The Aeroseal duct sealing method was used to reduce that leakage.

Initial Leakage: 430.2 CFM

Final Leakage: 31.4 CFM

RESULT: 92.7% Reduction in Leakage

New Comfort/Legacy Series Wi-Fi Stats

The new Wi-Fi Thermostat offers convenience and affordability in one wall-mounted thermostat.  Designed to be compatible with a number of HVAC system types and brands making it easier for you to upgrade your customers to the convenience of remote access control. But this thermostat is about more than giving them remote access. It’s also about helping them save money on utility costs through programming design, smart recovery, and energy use reporting. They can see when they’re spending the most on utility costs and tailor their settings to reduce their energy use.  And, when they’re not home, this thermostat monitors their home’s energy use, comfort preferences, and the weather forecast to make intelligent decisions on efficiency and comfort for their return home. Continue reading “New Comfort/Legacy Series Wi-Fi Stats”

New A/C Rebates for Municipal Electric in Naperville, St. Charles, Winnetka, and others

The State of Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has given Nicor Gas a grant to mimic their ComEd combo rebate program with municipal electric utilities.  Only certain muni’s are being included in this test program including three in Chicagoland.  The rules, dollar amounts ($720 to 1,020), and tiers (14.5 and 16 SEER) are basically the same as the ComEd program, but Continue reading “New A/C Rebates for Municipal Electric in Naperville, St. Charles, Winnetka, and others”

Consumer Reports Ranks Venstar ColorTouch #1… Again!

For the second year in a row, Consumer Reports rated ColorTouch the #1 thermostat in their “Best of the Year” section.  Read more in their November 2013 issue, on newsstands now or subscribers can click here.

Also, Venstar’s quality and innovation continues to get noticed in the industry’s leading publications. Check out these articles about ColorTouch thermostats in “Contracting Business Magazine” and “BUILDER Magazine!”

Energy Benchmarking Ordinance Approved by Chicago’s City Council

Chicago’s City Council passed the energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance on Sept.11.  In adopting a new chapter of the Municipal Code we are launching a new chapter in Chicago’s path to being the most livable, competitive and sustainable city.  Information unlocks markets and this new legislation will bring cost savings, reduced environmental impact and new economic opportunity.  In the near term the City will Continue reading “Energy Benchmarking Ordinance Approved by Chicago’s City Council”

Carrier Wins Gold in ACHR News Dealer Design Award Program

Carrier was recently recognized for excellence in product design in the 10th annual Dealer Design Awards Program sponsored by The Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration News magazine. An independent panel of contractors acted as judges in the contest that had 122 entries. The Carrier® Infinity® Remote Access Touch Control was the Gold Award Winner in the HVAC Residential Equipment category. The ACHR News is the leading trade magazine in the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration industries. (read more)

Bryant Wins Bronze Award in ACHR News Dealer Design Award Program

Bryant was recently recognized by an independent panel of contractors for excellence in product design in the 10th annual Dealer Design Awards Program sponsored by The Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration News magazine. The Bryant® Evolution® Extreme Heat Pump was named as the Bronze Award Winner in the HVAC Residential Equipment category. The Evolution Extreme is a breakthrough product providing up to 13 HSPF heating efficiency and up to 20.5 SEER cooling efficiency. (read more)