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Energy evaluations determine how much energy you are using versus how much you should be using. They identify areas of your home where you are wasting energy and provide you with cost-efficient solutions to fix such problems. Energy evaluations involve a professional energy auditor coming to your house to inspect both the inside and outside of your home. They will start with the outside to see what areas could cause problems. If you have been experiencing any heating or cooling problems, let them know so that they can focus on specific solutions. An energy evaluation will not suggest that you need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle to save money. In order for the auditor to know what sort of temperature settings you prefer and how to best save money, they may ask questions such as:
- How many rooms does your house have?
- Are any rooms rarely occupied?
- Is your house unoccupied for long periods during the day?
- What do you set your temperature at during the summer and winter?
Remembering to schedule preventive maintenance for your HVAC system can be hard to do but is important to keeping your home comfortable. It also helps keep your utility bills low and increase the longevity of your system. Preventive maintenance entails inspection of both your heating and cooling components. The best time to get them checked is right before you will be using them the most. This typically means spring and fall, right before the intense months of summer and winter. Your system will be ready for your extended usage, and you won't have to worry about them breaking down unexpectedly right when you need them most. Preventive maintenance also makes sure that your HVAC system is working as efficiently as possible. For example, the evaporator coil in your air conditioner is the part responsible for cooling air, so it receives quite a bit of attention. It will be cleaned and inspected for any cracks that may hinder its performance. This helps keep it from having to overwork and use more energy than necessary to achieve the temperatures you want. By having all these components inspected, cleaned and replaced if need be, you are also making sure that your HVAC system lasts a long time. If it is running optimally all the time, it doesn't get overtaxed and you won't have to think about replacing it for years to come. Here are some other steps performed during a maintenance that help you get the most from your HVAC system:
- Lubricate moving parts
- Tighten electrical connections
- Inspect system controls
- Verify thermostat settings
- Check condensate drains
Installing a programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways to lower your utility bills right away. They are easy to program and can be used to lower your energy usage by up to 30 percent. A programmable thermostat is ideal for any home that is frequently left unoccupied. Some people opt to turn their HVAC system off while they are gone, while others choose to leave it on the entire time. By leaving it on, you are wasting a lot of energy during the day keeping an empty house comfortable. If you turn it off, you have to wait in an uncomfortable home until the conditioned air takes effect. Both of these problems are solved with a programmable thermostat. By programming it just once, you can have it turn off shortly after you leave for work in the morning and turn back on shortly before you return. This helps you save energy and not worry about being uncomfortable in your home. You can easily make adjustments to the programs as well. If you are going to be gone on vacation, you can set it to an energy efficient setting for a certain number of days. You can also program it so that it stays on during each weekend if you spend a lot of time home then. Certain modern models have other features that help you save money. Some are able to connect wirelessly to the internet and can display weather forecasts on a digital screen. Another feature is a reminder to change your air filters, which will help your HVAC system stay efficient. To learn more about how a programmable thermostat can help you save money or what an installation entails, contact Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical. We have been providing heating and air conditioning for residential and commercial clients in the South Bay, peninsula and Santa Cruz areas since 1962. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at 408-294-6290. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical services the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas in California. To get started, check out our website or see our current promotions.Read More
NATE refers to the North American Technician Excellence organization. This organization offers certification to air conditioning, heating, refrigeration and ventilation technicians. Technicians who have earned this certificate have proven their abilities in the HVAC/R industry. There are other organizations that train technicians in these areas. NATE, on the other hand, tests technicians in their skill levels as HVAC/R service professionals. These technicians will complete both residential and commercial installation and maintenance jobs. Hiring a NATE-certified technician will provide you with many benefits:
- You will ensure the efficiency of any product you plan on having installed
- You will lower your heating and cooling costs
- You will not need to call back your technician for poor performance
- You will receive fast and efficient service
- You will receive the best knowledge and advice possible
- Oil furnaces
- Gas furnaces
- Heat pumps
- Air conditioning
- Air distribution
- Commercial Refrigeration
- The model name and number of your unit
- The age of your unit
- The maintenance history of your system
- When you first noticed a problem
- A description of any irregular weather conditions before you noticed the problem
- A description of any abnormal noises or smells
- Any troubleshooting steps you have taken
Central air conditioning and heating systems are designed to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. And that is what they do -- sort of. If you are like most people in the San Jose area, you have probably noticed a "Goldilocks effect" in your home: some rooms are too cold, and some are too hot, while only part of the house is "just right." The reasons for this temperature variation are natural enough: sunlight creates heat. Hot air rises, while cool air sinks. So, if you have a multi-level home, or if some rooms have more sun-facing windows than others, you will naturally have some parts of the house that get warmer or cooler than others. Only the room in which the thermostat is located is guaranteed to actually be at the temperature you set. You can eliminate this Goldilocks effect, though, by upgrading your HVAC with a zoning system. Zoning systems divide your home up into several different heating and cooling zones. Though your home still has only one central furnace and air conditioner, the zoning system can direct the air from that central unit only to the rooms that currently need it. So, for example, you won't have to turn your basement into a walk-in freezer to prevent your sunroom from becoming a sauna. Each zone has its own thermostat, and the system will heat or cool each zone separately to match each thermostat setting. Besides improving your comfort, a zoning system can actually help you save money on your utility bills. This is because it allows you to heat or cool only part of the house at a time. If a section of the house is not being used -- say, a guest room, or any bedroom during the daylight hours -- you won't have to pay to heat or cool it during those times. This works especially well with programmable thermostats, which can automatically make the necessary adjustments each day. To learn more about zoning systems, contact us at Valley Heating and Cooling. You can also visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at 408-294-6290. Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Valley Heating, Cooling & Electrical services the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas in California. To get started, check out our website or see our current promotions.Read More
Upgrading your heating and cooling system is a significant investment. You want to be sure that you are getting good value for your money and that your equipment will operate efficiently for years to come. One way to ensure that your monthly utility costs will stay low, no matter how the price of oil changes, is to invest in a heating and cooling system that uses an alternative energy source. To make this even more appealing, the federal government is offering tax credits for energy efficiency. Naturally, the most efficient systems qualify for the most generous tax credits available. Home improvements that utilize geothermal, solar and wind power are eligible for tax credits that will make the initial costs much more affordable. Here is what you need to know:
- You can claim 30 percent of the total cost, with no upper limit.
- The total cost includes both the price of the equipment and any installation costs.
- You can claim the credit whether you are building a new home or upgrading the equipment in your existing home.
- If you have two homes, both qualify for the credits, so you can update both properties.
- Rental homes are not eligible for the credit.
- Most Energy Star equipment qualifies, but it is important that your new systems meet certain criteria. It is best to work with a professional before you make the purchase to ensure that you can claim the tax credits on your investment.
You wouldn't put a motorcycle engine in a truck or try to connect a garden hose to a fire hydrant. It's obvious why these situations wouldn't work: too much or too little power can make a system inefficient. The same is true for your heating and cooling systems. This is why it is so important to perform a load calculation to ensure that your HVAC equipment is properly sized. One of the most common mistakes made when upgrading to new heating and cooling equipment is installing a system that is too large for the home. This can result in the equipment operating inefficiently, breaking down frequently and not providing the desired level of home comfort. It is important for you to know that the size of your current equipment may not actually be right for your home. Performing a load calculation prior to upgrading can ensure that you will get the most value from the new equipment you purchase. There are a number of factors your contractor should consider in the load calculation, including:
- The size of your home
- The orientation and shape of your home
- Your local climate
- How much insulation you have
- The type of windows in your home
- The location of the windows in your home
- Rates of air infiltration
- The number of family members and their ages
- Your personal home comfort preferences
- The appliances in your home that give off heat
You probably know that heating and cooling is one of the most significant energy expenditures for your home, but most people don't realize that their water heater also uses a lot of energy. If you have not yet invested in an energy-efficient water heater, it may be time to consider an equipment upgrade. Like any other home appliance, you have a lot of choices when it comes to heating your home's water. To explore all of your options, ask your contractor the following questions:
- What type of water heater should I buy? With new technologies, you now have more choices than ever. Conventional hot water storage tanks are still available, but there are even more efficient options such as demand (tankless), heat pumps, solar and tankless coils. The type that you choose depends on how much hot water your family uses, how you use it and your usual daily schedule.
- What size do I need for my home? If you have a water heater with a tank, larger is not always better. The larger the tank, the more energy is used to keep the water hot. Smaller systems may actually meet all of your hot water needs and cost you less per month. Tankless systems work by heating the water when it is needed. In some families, two or more tankless systems may be needed to meet the simultaneous demand for hot water in different areas of your home.
- How much will my monthly costs change? Based on your typical monthly usage, your contractor can help you calculate the estimated monthly savings for different types of water heaters.
- What other steps can I take to save energy? Reducing usage, lowering the temperature, insulating the tank, installing a timer and insulating pipes are all ways to help water heating keep costs low.
Duct sealing is one of the most important steps homeowners in the South Bay, Peninsula and Santa Cruz area can make to increase home efficiency and save money. According to Energy Star, the typical U.S. home loses around 20 percent of energy through leaks and disjointed duct connections. This could lead to lower comfort levels and higher utility bills, among other problems. Ducts are usually located inside walls, floors and ceilings, so you can’t always see leaks. How do you know if you may need duct sealing? Here are a few signs:
- Some rooms are difficult to heat or cool or are always too stuffy.
- You have some ductwork in the garage, attic, basement, crawlspace or another un-insulated area.
- Your summer and winter utility bills are unreasonably high.
- Straighten any ducts that appear crunched, kinked or tangled.
- Insulate with an R-value of at least 6.
- Seal all air registers and vents closely to the ducts.
- Use a special duct mastic (a gooey sealant that is painted on and hardens) or duct sealant, but not duct tape. It’s inefficient and won’t last long.
- Flexible connections are best sealed with plastic or metal bands.
- Sheet metal ducts should be joined together with sheet metal screws.
It’s important to have quality electrical work done during the process of building or remodeling, but regular electrical maintenance is just as important. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that electric problems cause about 310 deaths, 1,100 injuries and around 28,600 fires every year. Most of this is due to incompetently installed wiring, overloaded circuits and improper use of extension cords. You may especially need electrical work if any of the following apply:
- You've done renovations on your home.
- You’ve purchased a major appliance in the past 10 years.
- Your home was previously owned.
- Circuit breakers trip or fuses blow unusually often.
- Extension cords and power strips are permanent fixtures around your house.
- Outlets crackle, buzz or sizzle, or are hot to the touch.
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