Home Automation for Beginners

September 19, 2018

If you’re like many homeowners who are new to the wonderful world of home automation, you may be feeling slightly intimidated by the whole thing. You may have also considered the smart home lifestyle to be little more than a passing trend when it first emerged but have since realized that it’s here to stay and want more information.

Advantages of Home Automation

One of the main advantages of home automation is that it can be customized to suit the personal needs and preferences of individual homeowners. For instance, if your outdoor living space includes a large lawn and garden area, installing a smart irrigation system has the potential to save on your utility costs. If you have security concerns at your home or neighborhood, a smart security system will help keep your mind at ease. Following are several more things you might like to know about home automation.

Control Home Environments Remotely

Turning home thermostats down a bit while household residents are at work or school saves money on utility costs, but who likes coming home to a cold house? Using smart technology, you can program your home heating system to start producing more heat half an hour before you’re scheduled to arrive home, and you can also turn it up remotely before you get home if for some reason you’re returning outside of your normal time.

State-of-the-Art Smart HVAC Systems

Some state-of-the-art smart HVAC systems have intuitive capabilities enabling them to learn the habits of those in the household for the purpose of providing fine-tuned customization. For instance, your heating system may be able to turn itself down a little around the time the last household occupant goes to bed.

You can also turn lights, music, and televisions off and on from a remote location, which comes in really handy for those who are on vacation and want to create an impression on possible intruders that someone is inside the house. You can even connect your front doorbell to your smartphone and see who’s ringing the bell.

Getting Started With Home Automation

The best way to get started with home automation is to discern your most pressing needs. If you’ve just got a small yard with little or no lawn grass, for instance, a smart irrigation system probably isn’t something that tops your list of priorities. On the other hand, if household energy bills are high, perhaps you should begin by exploring some smart HVAC options.

Reliable Professional Heating & Cooling Services You Can Count On

For more information on home automation in Bloomington and other Central Illinois communities, please contact Bratcher Comfort at your earliest convenience. Our goal is to keep you comfortable year round!

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3 Tips to Extend the Life Expectancy of Your AC

August 27, 2018

Central air conditioning systems are made to last for many years, but they do end up needing to be replaced at some point. No matter what the life expectancy of your AC is, you can take steps to extend it. This saves you from having to spend money on a replacement sooner than expected. Keep the following tips in mind for getting the most out of your current air conditioning system.

Replace the Air Filter on a Regular Basis

It’s easy to forget about the air filter in your AC system, but it’s important to change it regularly. Your air filter is designed to catch debris, including dust and air pollutants, and prevent them from getting into your ducts. This means that your air filter ends up being covered in dirt and dust over time, which makes your AC less efficient. A clogged filter can also lead to more wear and tear on your AC, decreasing its life expectancy. Set reminders for yourself to check your air filters once a month and replace them when they’re dirty in order to help your AC last longer. Keeping a new filter on hand at all times can make this easier.

Set Up Routine Maintenance

Having maintenance done on your AC on an annual basis or as often as needed can help it reach a longer life expectancy. During maintenance, technicians check for early signs of problems that can damage your AC and get them repaired promptly. Maintenance tasks, such as cleaning the coils, also ensure that your AC remains in good condition and is able to run properly, which can help it last longer than expected.

Ensure Good Airflow

Air needs to be able to flow through your outdoor unit and your vents in order for your AC to run efficiently. Any obstructions to airflow can harm your AC and shorten its life expectancy. Make sure that there are no weeds or other vegetation growing around or near the outdoor unit, and trim shrubs and bushes away from it. Go through your home and check all of the air vents to ensure that nothing is blocking them. Keep in mind that you should avoid closing vents in your home, even in areas that don’t need as much air conditioning.

Making Your Home Comfortable Again

If you need to set up maintenance for your air conditioner, contact Bratcher Heating & Air Conditioning today. We provide AC maintenance, as well as installations and repairs, for homeowners in central Illinois, including the East Peoria, Normal, and Champaign areas.

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How Energy Efficient is Your Home’s Air Conditioner?

August 20, 2018

During summer months in Peoria, home cooling bills can climb sharply. One of the most important seasonal preparations Illinois homeowners can make is having a home energy audit conducted in your house before the worst of summerf weather begins. Having a home energy audit is an easy and comparatively inexpensive way of resolving issues of energy waste and excessive heating and cooling bills.

NOTE: Keep in mind that winter is usually the busiest time for Illinois HVAC professionals. So, to avoid taking longer to get non-emergency service work, such as an energy audit done, it is recommended that you have your energy audit prior to the arrival of winter weather.

What Does an Energy Audit Involve?

A home energy evaluation locates areas of excessive AC loss throughout your house that can impact your family’s comfort during hot weather and result in excessive cooling bills. In an energy audit, every room is thoroughly examined to identify areas where air conditioning loss is occurring. Energy auditors usually use specialized equipment to identify heat variances and points of air loss.

Thermographic Scanning: Your auditor may use thermal scanning technology to locate heat variances across the wall expanses of your home’s outer envelope.

Blower Door Test: Special equipment may be used to measure your home’s degree of airtightness and pinpoint each air leak. Doors are pressure tested, as well as vents and various other openings, in order to determine actual quantities of air loss at locations throughout the house.

Glass and Wall Assessments: The auditor will probably take measurements of walls and window sizes and walls, and consider materials and other factors in determining the extent of air loss in various areas.

HVAC System Evaluation: Your energy evaluation will also include inspection of your HVAC system, ductwork, and insulation. The sufficiency of the mechanical and electrical operations of your equipment will be analyzed, and ductwork will be inspected, and insulation thickness, type, and R-values will be evaluated.

Usage Calculations: The auditor will probably review your energy bills, and factor in the family’s daily routines. For example, the daily number of hours that the house is actually occupied, the rooms that used or not used every day, temperature preferences, etc.

Your Home Energy Efficiency Report

Upon completing the energy evaluation, your auditor will present you with a detailed report of specific issues and recommended corrections to help increase your home’s energy efficiency and reduce your cooling costs. Many problems that can impact home cooling costs and compromise comfort are avoidable with simple and inexpensive corrections before temperatures start to drop.

Providing The Best Heating & Cooling Service in Central Illinois

Bratcher Heating & Air Conditioning is one of the United States’ leading installers of GeoComfort geothermal systems. Our team of highly skilled and experienced professional team has proudly earned for Bratcher the prestigious designation of Lennox Premier Dealer. For more information about having a home energy audit, or to schedule an appointment for service, call Bratcher Heating & Air Conditioning today!

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Why Use a Home Humidifier?

July 16, 2018

Indoor Air Quality If you’re looking for a way to make your home more comfortable, you should definitely take into consideration using a humidifier. From getting rid of dry skin to reducing the symptoms of sinusitis, there are more than a few reasons to have one in your house. Here at Bratcher, we understand how important it is that your home be as comfortable as possible and we are here to meet any and all of your heating and cooling needs.

For now, let’s explore the top reasons you need to have a humidifier in your home:

Speeds Up the Healing Process

Whether you’re suffering from asthma or allergies or even the common cold, a humidifier has the ability to lubricate your nasal passages, which is essential to expediting the healing process when you’re sick. If you have severe allergies, there are humidifiers that are made specifically to reduce your symptoms, so you’ll definitely want to look into purchasing one of them.

Reduce Symptoms of Sinusitis

Sometimes, when the air gets too dry, this can cause your nasal passages to not properly drain, thus causing them to become stuffed up. When humidity is added to the air, though, this will ensure your nose drains properly, which can greatly reduce symptoms associated with sinusitis and congestion.

Get Rid of Nosebleeds

If you suffer from nosebleeds, you know how aggravating they can be. One minute you’re sitting cuddled up the couch with your loved one watching a movie, and the next you’re having to dash off to to the bathroom with your hand under your nose to keep blood from getting all over everything. With a humidifier in the home, your nose is more likely to stay lubricated, which is essential in being able to get rid of nosebleeds.

Stay Beautiful

Do you ever wake up in the morning and notice that your hands and feet along with your lips feel dry? If so, this means the air in your home is very dry and you need to put humidity in the air. Thankfully, doing something as simple as using a humidifier can put moisture in the air and leave you waking up feeling supple and not so dry and flaky in the morning.

There’s never been a better time to make sure your home is as comfortable as it can be and it starts with monitoring whether or not you need to add a humidifier. While some homes will need to add moisture into the air, there are some that will actually need to remove it, making it necessary to use a dehumidifier. To learn which one you need to use, contact Bratcher today serving the Peoria, IL area.

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What is Super Cooling?

July 10, 2018

Family with their home There are a number of different ways to cool your home. There is the simple ceiling fan, invented in the late 1800s. There’s air conditioning which removes moisture and heat from the air. There is “swamp” cooling which adds cool moisture to the air- preferable in excessively dry climates. And let’s not forget the good old fashioned shade tree. Having a shade tree over strategic portions of your home will make it much cooler. But there’s one more type of cooling that few people are aware of – Super Cooling.

What is Super Cooling?

If you know much about thermodynamics you’re probably thinking of the process sometimes referred to as “under cooling,” which is a process that lowers the temperature of a gas or liquid to sub-freezing temperatures without condensing it into a solid. While that is interesting- we’re not looking to transform your home into one of the frozen moons of Jupiter.

Super cooling for home air conditioning means cooling the entirety of the home at a time of day that is optimal for retaining low temperatures all day long. The idea is to minimize the amount of work your AC system has to do by cooling the air when it is easiest- and least expensive- to do so.

How Can I Super Cool My Home?

We can achieve this by first obtaining a time of day plan from your utility provider. This plan will tell you what time of day electricity is least expensive. Chances are this will coincide with the time of day when people tend to use their air conditioners least often. In other words, it means using your AC to set a chill on your home by running it at maximum during the coolest time of day.

The reason this technique is called “super cooling” is that you’re going to find yourself wanting to put on a sweater.
Then, when peak use hours arrive, you will be able to turn your AC down. This allows you to save money on your cooling bills during the heat of the summer.

Contact Us

Here at Bratcher Comfort in Illinois, we can help you to develop a super cooling plan that will keep your summer cooling bills as low as possible. To learn more, contact the HVAC experts at Bratcher today.

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How Geothermal Systems Can Save You Money

June 7, 2018

Savings with Geothermal systemsGeothermal heating and cooling are intended to take advantage of the heat in the Earth to efficiently provide comfort to the business or home. This method of providing cooling and heating has existed for a few decades. However, recently, geothermal heating and cooling have risen significantly in popularity. This is partially due to consumers know about geothermal systems. Here is some information about how geothermal systems can reduce your carbon footprint and save you money.

How Do Geothermal Systems Work?
Geothermal systems work by having water circulate through an underground loop. As the water circulates, it heats up from the warmth of the Earth. The system then pumps the heated water into the structure or house. The hot water will be pushed to a compressor when it reaches the unit. The system blows the heated air from the compressor throughout the space. For cooling, the system sucks warm air from the house or structure and has the warm air circulate through the underground loop. The air is then cooled and recirculated through the structure or home.

How Do Geothermal Systems Save Money?
The main reason geothermal systems spell major savings for most homeowners is that these systems don’t draw on a constant supply of electricity, which is produced by fossil fuels. Geothermal systems only need very little electricity to run the compressor, pump, and fan that function to propel air and water through the system. Some homeowners have enjoyed savings of up to hundreds of dollars every month on heating and cooling costs thanks to geothermal systems. In comparison to traditional HVAC units, geothermal systems typically prove themselves to be more ideal solutions for comfort all year round.

Many homeowners are deterred by geothermal systems due to the upfront costs associated with installation. While the upfront costs may be high, installing a geothermal system will save you plenty of money in the long run. Not only that, but you will be doing your part when it comes to protecting the environment from the harmful impact of the burning of fossil fuels.

As you can see, there are many ways that geothermal systems can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. For more information about the merits of geothermal systems and the installation and repair services we provide for these systems, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Bratcher Comfort, which serves various communities in Illinois.

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The Importance of an AC Unit

June 6, 2018

Bratcher Technician Talking to CustomersToday, an air conditioner is not just ordinary luxury home equipment. It has become an essential appliance. Most homeowners choose to use air conditioning units for personal comfort since these units work to regulate and maintain cooler room temperatures during hot summers.

At the peak of summer, nothing feels better than your air conditioner cooling you off from the summer heat. Installing an air conditioner can also have a positive impact on your health. Air conditioning creates a clean, safe and a healthy environment that helps family members who are suffering from devastating conditions such as allergy to have a positively improved standard of living. Here are some of the benefits of an air conditioning system:

Better Air Quality

Air conditioners filter and circulate air, removing mold and pollutants from it. This is essential for those individuals who frequently suffer from asthma and allergies since it reduces the irritants that stimulate an attack. To enjoy good health, make sure that you change and clean your system’s filters at least once every month. You should also service your system frequently and maintain it in top shape to avoid indoor air pollution.

Improved Health

Installing an air conditioner in your home will also improve your family’s overall health. Typically, your indoor air is usually full of contaminants such as pollen, dust, bacteria, and fungi. Inhaling such contaminants can lead to various health complications such as allergy and respiratory diseases. However, an AC unit eliminates all these contaminants from your indoor air ensuring high-quality indoor air quality.

Energy Efficient

One of the most significant trends in the home technology sector is improving a home’s energy efficiency to minimize energy bills. Comfort-monitoring and thermostat systems provide automated scheduling based on your availability in the home. This means that your air conditioning system is not running wastefully while you are away. Also, by accurately and closely monitoring your home’s interior spaces temperature, your unit will learn and know when to turn on and off while managing your cycle times effectively.

They Are Durable

Another significant advantage of the AC units is that they are durable since the technology used in the production of these systems has greatly improved over the years. Modern AC units are made of high-quality materials that last for many years. As long as you adhere to the recommended AC maintenance schedule, you will not worry about frequent repairs since the AC units critical components will be subjected to less tear and wear. An AC unit can serve you for more than a decade.

Are you looking for reliable and profession heating and cooling services in central Illinois that you can rely on? Contact Bratcher Heating and AC today for quality heating and air conditioning services. We provide expert knowledge with quality service!

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Important Things to Consider Before Buying a New Furnace

March 16, 2018

Important Things to Consider Before Buying a New Furnace

Your furnace is an indispensable piece of equipment in your home, especially during cold weather. Without it, your family will be left in the cold and at a risk of developing diseases brought about by extremely low temperatures. There are days and nights when your unit has to work 24/7 to keep your home toasty. However, this puts a lot of stress on the furnace and if your system has been serving you for 15 years or more, it may not be as energy-efficient as it once was.

If you are looking for a new furnace for your home, there are a few things you need to consider before making that purchase. Choosing the right heating system can sometimes be an overwhelming task for a homeowner and calling a professional is necessary for making an informed decision. Remember to do business only with a licensed heating company in Champaign, IL to ensure you get the best solution.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when buying a new furnace.

Energy Efficiency

Your furnace is one of the major energy-consuming appliances in your home. It’s important to determine the energy-efficiency of a furnace to give you an idea of how much fuel it needs to heat your home.

A furnace’s ability to convert gas into heat is measured by its annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating. It shows the percentage of the fuel consumed that is actually used for generating heat. To put it simply, the higher the AFUE rating, the greater the savings.

A furnace with an AFUE of 85 percent converts 85 percent of the fuel into heat while the other 15 percent goes out the chimney or elsewhere.

Proper Sizing

Buying the largest or the most expensive furnace doesn’t really guarantee ultimate comfort. When it comes to furnaces, bigger isn’t always better and smaller doesn’t always mean it’s cost-effective.

When a furnace is oversized, it heats up the home quickly but uses a lot of fuel. A bulky furnace is prone to short cycling, which means the unit will shut itself off before the thermostat even makes the right temperature readings. Too much short cycling isn’t healthy for the furnace as it causes the unit to break prematurely.

On the other hand, when a furnace is undersized, it is incapable of properly heating your home, which causes it to run longer in an attempt to reach your desired temperature. Not only does it consume more fuel, it also forces your furnace to work harder. Similar to an oversized furnace, a unit that is too small is bound to fail earlier than it should — prompting you to replace it much sooner than if you installed a correctly sized system.

Safety Features

When it comes to home comfort, energy-efficiency is not the only thing that matters; you should also consider the safety features of your furnace, which can protect your home. High-efficiency furnaces that have a minimum of 90 percent AFUE use outside air for combustion. Not only does this prevent your home from catching fire, it also keeps your furnace from being damaged caused by vapors from household cleaning products.

High-efficiency furnaces use an electronic ignition system that is proven to be more reliable and safer than old furnaces that utilize standing pilot light. This ignition system only uses heat when the furnace calls for heat. These furnaces are also designed to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Smart Thermostat Compatibility

When buying a new furnace, consider a unit that is compatible with smart thermostats, which have the ability to learn your daily schedule and preferences, making it easier to conserve energy by allowing the thermostat to control your home’s temperatures.

These devices also remind you of your maintenance schedule and have the ability to monitor your fuel consumption. In addition, smart thermostats can also detect a dirty filter and will let you know when it needs cleaning or replacing.

Call the Heating Experts

These are just some of the key points you need to consider when buying a new furnace. Our HVAC experts at Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning can help you make a wise decision by employing scientific and practical ways in choosing the right system for your home.

We are the trusted Champaign furnace installation company that is dedicated to providing you with the best heating and cooling solutions for your home.

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Lennox ELO183 Oil Furnace

March 15, 2018

Lennox ELO183 Oil Furnace

The average lifespan of a home gas furnace is between 15 to 20 years. If your unit is around this age or more, it’s time to consider getting a replacement for a number of reasons.

First, it is quite normal for a furnace to create some noise when it starts or shuts down, but if those noises begin to be extremely louder, it may be time to shop for a new unit. These sounds are signs that there are certain parts of the furnace needing replacement. The problem is that as furnaces get older, finding replacement parts gets challenging.

Second, an older furnace is bound to work harder to keep your house warm. This translates to higher energy bills and more frequent repairs. If you notice a significant increase in heating and repair costs, this tells you that your existing unit is about to retire and would require a replacement.

Another issue associated with old furnaces is inconsistent heating throughout the home. If you have an older furnace, you may be suffering from uneven heat distribution — some rooms are warmer than the others.

If you observe any of these noticeable signs, you may have reached a point where getting a new furnace would make more sense than trying to keep your old, inefficient unit.

For professional help, call your preferred heating company in Champaign, IL that offers a variety of furnace choices.

Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning is one of the best contractors in the Central Illinois area.

Overview

The ELO183 oil furnace is one of the models in Lennox’s Elite Series.

Every component of the ELO183 has proven itself through extensive testing in our research labs. So you can take comfort knowing the furnace will deliver reliable performance, season after season.

The ELO183 residential oil furnace delivers clean, quiet and comfortable home heating. Stay warm for less with this efficient furnace that is designed to deliver lasting value and energy savings, which important, especially during the coldest months of winter.

Its high-quality components efficiently deliver heat to every room, with little maintenance required.

Features

Energy Efficiency

Compared to conventional, low to mid-efficiency furnaces, the ELO183 can help you save a considerable amount each year, thanks to its efficiency rating of up to 83 percent AFUE. An AFUE of 80% means 80 cents of every dollar spent on gas goes directly toward heating your home. That can mean potential savings of hundreds of dollars per year when compared to an older furnace.

The ELO183 has a heavy-gauge stainless steel heat exchanger that has a durable and solid design that captures waste heat, allowing the furnace to achieve industry-leading efficiency levels. It allows air to glide evenly over its smooth surface for maximum heating efficiency.

Lennox backs this furnace with a 5-year Limited Warranty on covered parts and a Lifetime Limited Warranty on the heat exchanger.

Performance

Its heavy-duty fuel pump provides quiet, reliable operation with fast shutoff of oil flow.

Its innovative combustion chamber is constructed from alumina-silica ceramic fiber, provides quiet operation and high efficiency.

The ELO183 is built with a Beckett® burner. This means extremely efficient combustion for greater fuel economy throughout the heating season. It also means the burner is unaffected by drafts or poor chimney conditions.

Quiet Operation

The ELO183 has a fully insulated cabinet with patented noise-reducing construction that further minimizes operating sound to an industry-leading low level.

Its insulated blower compartment minimizes operating sounds.

Why Trust Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning

Finding the right furnace can be an overwhelming task. As a matter of fact, most homeowners find it rather difficult to select the proper unit for their homes. There are certain factors to consider when deciding which furnace is best for your needs, one of which is proper sizing.

A furnace that is too small lacks the power to properly heat your home, so it will need to run longer to raise the temperature to the point of being overloaded. This causes the unit to fail and increase your utility bills. This will also create premature wear and tear as a small furnace struggles to keep up with your home’s heating needs.

On the other hand, a furnace that is too large for your home is prone to short cycling, which means the unit will shut down before the thermostat makes the right temperature readings.

To help you in making a wise choice, call Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning. We are a reputable Champaign furnace installation company serving Central Illinois since 1983.

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Lennox MS8C Mini-Split Air Conditioner

March 14, 2018

Lennox MS8C Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Homeowners have been using central air for decades. Everybody loves it as it allows us to have a comfortable home environment despite living in regions with extreme weather conditions.

However, more and more homeowners are becoming disappointed with traditional HVAC systems for a number of reasons, most notably duct problems.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an average duct system leaks about 20 to 30 percent of its air. Older systems can allow up to 50 percent of heated or cooled air to escape into the ceiling or attic space causing discomfort and throwing away a lot of energy.

If you’re looking for a better alternative to central air, read on to find out more about ductless systems.

Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning is a leading HVAC company in Peoria, IL that offers ductless mini-splits created to make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient.

Overview

A ductless system works like a central heating or cooling system — minus the ducts. Ductless systems, also called mini-splits, have two main components – an outdoor compressor or condenser and an indoor air-handling unit. They are connected by a conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain.

Because ductless systems do not require ductwork to move air, they eliminate the problems associated with inefficient ducts. This is one of the reasons why they are the most comfortable, quietest, and energy-efficient way to condition the air in your home.

Practical Applications

Because of their high-efficiency levels, reasonable prices and ease of installation, ductless systems are becoming the more popular choice for homeowners.

They can be used in various applications such as:

  • Zoning
  • Conversions
  • Areas Without Ductwork
  • Home Additions
  • New Constructions

Benefits

Ductless systems consume less power than traditional HVAC systems. They are significantly smaller than forced-air systems, and since the heated or cooled air is delivered directly into a room, there is no loss in efficiency.

Another advantage of ductless systems over conventional air is their ease of installation. While it typically takes days to complete the installation of a conventional setup, a ductless system can be ready to use in as little as one day.

In addition, ductless systems use a refrigerant called R410A, which is known for its zero ozone exhaustion potential. A home with a ductless system installed has less impact on the environment throughout its life cycle.

On top of saving money on energy bills, homeowners may also be entitled for tax credits or utility rebates for the year they install a ductless system. There are certain programs at the federal, state and local level that allow homeowners to take advantage of these benefits.

Features of the Lennox MS8C Mini-Split Air Conditioner

  • With an efficiency rating of up to 22 SEER, it keeps you comfortable without generating high utility bills
  • Its inverter technology slowly ramps up the system to full speed, delivering only the air that is needed
  • Its unique design makes the system safer and more efficient than traditional window units
  • Indoor sound levels as low as 26 dB and outdoor levels as low as 50 dB
  • Secure installation leave you less vulnerable to problems associated with window units, such as insects, weather elements, and theft
  • This product uses an easy-to-use wireless remote control that allows you to change the temperature to fit your comfort needs
  • Ductless design eliminates complicated installation or expensive modifications
  • Small, compact design blends this model into any room

Premium Home Comfort with Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning

If you need more information about the Lennox MS8C mini-split air conditioner, call an authorized Lennox dealer like Bratcher Heating and Air Conditioning. We are a proud Lennox Premier Dealer that focuses on delivering outstanding workmanship and excellent customer service. With us, you can be sure that your brand new heat pump will be installed properly, allowing it to function as energy-efficient as possible.

Allow us to take care of your Peoria heating and air conditioning needs.

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