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Homeowners may experience problems with the heating or cooling systems in their home. It is important to seek professional, experienced technicians to perform HVAC maintenance ensuring your equipment is in peak running condition. To make your HVAC maintenance appointment go as smoothly as possible there are a few things to remember. We have provided a checklist below to help you prepare for your technicians arrival.
- Know where all of your equipment is ahead of time such as your furnace, air conditioner and breakers.
- If you are not the home owner and live in a rental, please make sure your landlord gives permission for these repairs to be done, and make arrangements for payment to be made.
- Give a phone number where you can be reached to confirm your appointment. Also in case the technician needs to change the time or cancel.
- Know all the symptoms and write them down so you can explain exactly what has been happening with your equipment.
- If you have pets of any kind make sure you have them safely secured in another room for both their safety and the safety of your service provider.
- Be able to provide a written record of any other work that has been performed on your equipment.
- Try all of the basic troubleshooting actions yourself prior to calling to make sure the problem is something you cannot fix yourself.
- Before your service technician arrives please make sure you have moved any objects away from equipment and out of the path to provide him easy access.
- If you are not going to be home please remember that someone over the age of 18 must be present to legally provide access to your home.
- Have the model numbers of the equipment being serviced written down to provide as much assistance to your provider as possible.
As the temperature drops, you may start to feel drafts seeping around doors and windows. It’s time to take care of energy wasting drafts so you can keep your home comfortable without paying high utility bills. The most common air leaks in your home will be in your attic, basement, a crawl space, windows and doors. Other areas that you need to check include plumbing vents, wiring holes and fireplace flues. When sealing holes in your attic, look for insulation that looks dirty. This will be caused by an opening that allows dirt to get into your attic. Remove the insulation and fill the hole with caulk. Replace the the insulation in that area. Reusing the dirty insulation is fine. You should use caulk or expanding foam around smaller air leak culprits as well such as; plumbing vents, and electrical wire holes. It’s important to make sure your home is properly insulated. You can either do this yourself or hire a professional. Insulating your attic will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which in turn minimizes your utility costs. Weatherstripping doors and windows will greatly reduce drafts from entering your home. This keeps the cool air inside in summer and cold air outside in winter. Air ducts lose airflow from poorly sealed connections. It is important to seal any leakage that you are able to get to. Most exposed duct work can be found in the garage, attic crawlspace or basement. You can use regular insulation to wrap the ducts or use a duct sealant on the connections. For more information on home-comfort issues, contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical, or call us at 408-294-6290. We proudly serve South Bay, the peninsula and Santa Cruz. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about air leaks and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
Another California winter is approaching, bringing with it higher home utility bills. Even if you have a quality HVAC system in your home, there are a lot of little steps that you can take which can add up to big energy savings. From turning down your thermostat when you're not at home, sealing window and door leaks, installing insulation or purchasing Energy Star-certified products, these little steps can add up quickly. You can view ways to make your home energy efficient by checking out The California Energy Commission or visiting the U.S. Department of Energy. Here are some quick and easy solutions that can quickly add up to big energy savings:
- Purchase Energy Star-certified products. Energy Star-certified products can save you between 20 and 50 percent on your appliances' energy usage.
- Plug the air leaks in your home. You can save up to 10 percent on your energy bill by weatherstripping and caulking any leaky windows or doors.
- Installing insulation in the ceiling of your home is one of the easiest ways to keep the heat in your home. Additionally, you can save another 10 percent by wrapping your water heater tank in an insulation jacket. (Just remember to leave the air intake valve uncovered.)
- Lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees when you're at home, and 64 degrees when you aren't home, can save up to 5 percent per degree.
- Additionally, opening your drapes and curtains during the day and letting the sun shine in is a great way to warm your house for free. Closing them at night can act as insulation. Both can add up to free energy savings.
Looking for a quick and easy way to measure the energy efficiency of your home? The Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick can provide you with a score between 0 and 10 that shows how your home stacks up to similar homes. Energy Star, a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, promotes energy efficient products that can help consumers save money on energy costs and protect the environment at the same time.
The first step to conduct this energy audit is to fill out the simple form for the Home Energy Yardstick. Enter your ZIP code, number of people in the household, square footage of your home and the types of fuel you use in addition to electricity. Then select either annual or monthly billing information. Enter your electricity in kilowatt hours and the dollar amount you spend. This information can be obtained from your utility bill, in which kilowatt hours will be specified as kWh. Click on the "submit" button to find out your score.
If your score on the yardstick is not to your satisfaction, the site provides tips to help you improve it. These include some simple and cost-effective ways to lower your energy bills:
- Sealing air leaks.
- Adding insulation.
- Upgrading appliances and lights to Energy Star-rated products.
The Home Energy Yardstick is a fast and easy way to get an overview of your home's energy usage. But you can also have a professional conduct a home energy evaluation, to make sure you are finding all the best ways to improve your home's energy efficiency.
For all your home-comfort needs, contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical. Visit our website for in-depth information, or call us at 408-294-6290. We have been serving South Bay, the peninsula and Santa Cruz since 1962.Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about energy audits and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Even in beautiful northern California, residents should be prepared for winter weather. Temperatures can get relatively cold, and some Pacific storms can be extremely dangerous and damaging.
To prepare your home for winter weather, consider these tips:
- Have an emergency kit preassembled and placed in an area of the home where you may take harbor during an extreme weather event. The kit should include items such as flashlights, weather radio, blankets, bottled water, and other items. Visit the Red Cross website for additional kit item suggestions.
- Keep phone contact information up to date and make sure it is in your emergency kit.
- Protect your home by using weatherproofing and insulation. Each year check your home to make sure any damages are repaired such as roof, gutters, siding and basement leaks.
- Your HVAC system can be a lifesaver during very cold and extreme weather. Have the furnace blower and other HVAC components inspected and prepared to take on winter weather before it gets too cold.
Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical can provide you with highly skilled professional technicians that will prepare your home HVAC for extreme weather conditions. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at 408-294-6290. We have been serving South Bay, the peninsula, and Santa Cruz since 1962.Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about winter weather emergencies and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
A heat pump is an energy-efficient alternative to air conditioners and furnaces. Powered by electricity, a heat pump moves heat from one area to another. In winter, it transfers heat into your home. During the summer, it transfers heat out of your home. Because heat pumps can deliver nearly four times the amount of energy they use, they can result in significant energy and cost savings. There are three types of pumps: air-source, geothermal and absorption. Air-source This is the most common type of heat pump, and it works by transferring heat between your home and the outside air. Best suited for areas of moderate temperatures, air-source pumps are considerably less efficient in colder climates. If you use electricity for heating, an air-source pump can lower the amount of electricity used for heating by up to 40 percent. If your home doesn't have ducts, a mini-split pump is a ductless version of the air-source pump; for homes with radiant floor heating systems, a reverse-cycle chiller is an air-source pump that generates cold and hot water instead of air. Geothermal Also known as ground-source or water-source pumps, geothermal pumps work more efficiently than air-source pumps by moving heat between your home and the ground or a nearby source of water. Geothermal pumps are more expensive to install, but they are less expensive to operate due to the relatively constant temperatures of the ground and water. Ideal for colder climates, geothermal pumps are quieter, more efficient and last longer than air-source pumps. Absorption Absorption heat pumps are air-source pumps that are driven by a heat source rather than by electricity. Natural gas is the most common heat source used by these pumps, which are also called gas-fired pumps. For more expert information about heat pumps, contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical or call us at 408-294-6290. We have served South Bay, the peninsula and Santa Cruz since 1962. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heat pump primers and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
Perhaps you've been considering solar energy for your home, and you've seen roof panels installed around your neighborhood. You've heard that installation can be costly, but what you might not have heard are the various ways to balance the costs, such as state and federal initiatives and incentives or by using net-metering, where your utility provider can credit you for unused energy you've supplied to the power grid. Power from the sun is one of the top forms of alternative energy. It's free, and because the collection system has virtually no moving parts, it requires practically no maintenance for many years. It doesn't require supplemental fuel, produces no toxins or pollutants and has no odor or sound. It is the ultimate green alternative to fossil fuels. The concept behind turning sunlight into power is simple: particles of sunlight called protons are gathered onto photovoltaic panels, a larger version of the strips found on solar calculators. An inverter turns the photons into electrons, which are then stored for energy needs now or later. You can even determine the amount of energy you will gather based on the number of panels installed. Additional panels can be added over the years, if needed. One of the advantages to converting to solar energy in your home is that you won't be subject to brown-outs or power outages, since your system will build up a reserve supply. Those reserves are also available at night, on cloudy days or when air pollution provides less than optimum collection. If you have questions about going solar, visit our website at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical, or call us at 408-294-6290. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about solar and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
If you take a rather nonchalant view of the air leaks in your Silicon Valley home, you are costing yourself both energy and money. Maybe you've been ignoring them altogether, not realizing that both small and large leaks can quickly add up to a sizable monetary loss. Now is the time to step up and fix this problem once and for all. Start with doors and windows These two areas are the easiest to locate and fix. Here are a few quick tips:
- If you can hear or feel a draft along the edges of a window or door, this means you have an air leak.
- Visible signs such as gaps around the edges, deterioration or even rot can indicate leakage.
- If you can't feel a draft but want to double-check for an air leak, light an incense stick and pass it over the suspected area. If the smoke swirls around, this will indicate a leak.
- Small -- caulk
- Medium -- spray foam
- Large -- weatherstripping
The weather in the Silicon Valley can be somewhat unpredictable, regardless of the time of the year. The beauty of attic insulation is that it will help to keep your home energy efficient and comfortable both when it's hot and when it's cold outside. Because of this, it is extremely important that you take measures to ensure that your attic insulation is up to snuff. What is the function of attic insulation? Your attic insulation is the key to keeping warm air inside your home during the winter, and cool air inside during the summer. Attic insulation is a helpful tool no matter what time of the year it is because it acts as a barrier to rising and radiating heat. On those hot days, your attic can reach temperatures up to 200 degrees. Without proper insulation, this heat will build up in your attic space and eventually radiate back down into your home, forcing your air conditioner to work harder. Conversely, during the winter months, the warm air generated by your furnace will rise to the attic if there is no insulation barrier, and will be lost. At the same time, cold air in your unheated attic will sink back down into your living areas. Attic insulation will prevent all of these problems, thereby boosting home comfort and lowering energy spending. How can I improve attic insulation? It is a wise idea to work with your HVAC contractor to evaluate your attic's current insulation. As a rule, you shouldn't be able to see the floor joists beneath the insulation. Your contractor can compare your insulation's R-value (measure of thermal resistance) to the R-value that is recommended by the U.S Department of Energy for the Silicon Valley. If your insulation is lacking, your contractor will work with you to determine how much you need to add, and what type will best serve your needs. For more insulation tips, contact Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical online, or call at 408-294-6920. We proudly serve homeowners in South Bay, peninsula and Santa Cruz. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about attic insulation issues and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
Everybody wants to save money and conserve energy, but it's not always easy to know which energy-saving methods truly work. Have you fallen prey to any of these energy-savings myths? Leaving lights on uses less energy than turning them off and on again There’s a very small draw of power when turning lights off and on, but it’s considerably less than the power used to maintain the light. When leaving a room, turn the light off if it’s not needed. After an appliance is switched off, it uses no energy As long as an appliance or electronic device is plugged in the socket, it continues to draw energy and will cost you money. Unplug your appliances when not in use, or use a power strip for as many appliances as possible, and turn off the switch at night or when the appliances aren’t needed. I can seal my ducts with duct tape Seal ducts with mastic, not duct tape. Duct tape falls off either due to poor surface preparation or because the tape dries and falls off as it ages. Electric room heaters will cost me less than running the central heater This is true only if you run the electric heater in the room you’re occupying, and if you have electric central heating. If you have central gas heat, you can pay as much or more by heating with electrical units. Fluorescent lights are bad More energy-savings myths surround the use of fluorescent lights, and have for some time. These lights used to flicker and hum and had terrible color quality. Today’s fluorescent lights have come a long way since then. The fluorescents that use electronic incandescent lighting no longer have the issues of the older models. Halogen lights are extremely efficient Halogens use less energy than the incandescent bulbs, but they release a lot of heat which warms a house during the summer months. This puts an added load on your cooling system, and in the long run can cost more. For more information on conserving energy in your home, contact Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical online, or call us at 408-294-6290. We proudly serve South Bay, peninsula and Santa Cruz. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas of California about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about energy savings myths and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
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