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Valley will match Lennox rebates up to $1600 available, which means you could earn up to $3200 in rebates!*
*This offer cannot be combined with any other Lennox consumer promotional offer.
When your home's heating and cooling systems require upgrading, turn to Energy Star appliances to cut your year-round energy bills. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the average family spends half its energy budget on heating and cooling, and appliances that meet the federal EPA's high standards for energy efficiency save money throughout the system's life.
In order to qualify for the Energy Star's program, the manufacturer must demonstrate that the appliance uses less energy under a variety of conditions. All central heating and cooling systems can qualify for the program, as long as they meet these requirements:
Combustion furnaces carry ratings called AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) that indicate how much of the fuel the furnace uses actually creates heat for your home. The minimum starts at 78 percent, which means that the system wastes 22 percent of the fuel it consumes.
For higher efficiency, consider a condensing furnace. They have AFUEs that start at 90 percent, which means that they utilize all but 10 percent of the fuel they use. They do so by having a second heat exchanger that removes the heat from the water vapor. The water condenses and drains away. To win the Energy Star, a combustion furnace must have a minimum AFUE of 90 percent.
Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners
A heat pump is a viable solution for heating and cooling homes in this climate, and those that carry the Energy Star designation have high efficiency ratings. The minimum HSPF (heating season performance factor) must be 8.0, and the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating must be 14 or better. Central air conditioners also must have a SEER rating of 14 or greater.
In order to get the most efficiency from these systems, choose a contractor who will perform a load calculation of your home and seal the ductwork before installation.
To learn more about Energy Star appliances, contact Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical for more information. We provide exceptional HVAC services for the 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 Star appliances and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Insulating your home adequately and correctly can save you a significant amount of money on your utility bills in both winter and summer. During the heating season, insulation keeps heat energy inside where it provides a cozy, warm environment. In the summer, it keeps the heat outside and in the attic, allowing your A/C to do its job. It also increases the comfort level in your home by reducing noise from outside. The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star program believes that most of the homes in the U.S. don't have enough insulation. Does yours?
In our area, the Department of Energy suggests that the total R-value of 38 to 60 for an attic space, 19 to 25 for the floor, and 5 for exterior walls. Since insulation has a cumulative effect, you can lay new batting, loose fiber or granules over existing material to increase the insulating value.
Checking your attic insulation is relatively easy. Take a ruler and measure the depth of the insulation in the attic space. To determine the R-value, multiply the depth in inches by the insulating value of the material you have. For yellow, pink or white loose fill, use 2.5. For grey or white loose fill use 2.8. For newsprint derived fill, use 3.7. Vermiculite or perlite granules have a R-value of 2.7 per inch. Fiberglass batting is 3.2 per inch.
Once you have determined the total R-value of your existing insulation you'll know how much more you need to purchase. When you start adding new insulation to the old, take the following precautions:
- Wear a long sleeve shirt, gloves, a hat, glasses and a respirator to prevent getting insulation fibers on your skin.
- Do not pack insulation around bare stove pipes, electrical fixtures, motors or recessed lighting.
- Do not cover attic vents.
- Be careful where you step. Some attics do not have reinforced floors and you could fall through.
- Do not use radiant heat foil backed batting on existing insulation.
The walls and floors should be checked by professionals. Walls can be pumped full of loose fill, as can the area beneath the floors. Call the HVAC experts at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical, serving the South Bay 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 insulation and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
In our region, forced air furnaces are the most popular way to heat homes because they're relatively easy to install, and most of them use a relatively cheap form of energy, natural gas. The forced-air system also doubles as a way to cool in the summer, when equipped with a central air conditioner. Forced-air heating systems have three major components. The first is the indoor air handler that houses the combustion chamber and a blower fan. The second is the ductwork that sends the heated air to the rooms that have vents. The third is the thermostat that controls the system.
- Since the majority of homes are designed to have forced-air systems, the ductwork is usually already in place to deliver the heated air. Unless design flaws or leaks exist in the network of ducts, it's an efficient way to move conditioned air throughout the structure.
- Forced-air systems blow air through the home fairly quickly.
- The thermostat that controls the air handler and the forced air furnace reacts quickly to temperature changes in the home, turning it on or off quickly so temperatures don't get too warm or drop too far for comfort.
- The ductwork provides a mechanism for moving filtered air throughout your home, and then bringing spent air back into the equipment to be reheated and filtered. The air filters trap airborne particles that can be irritating to people with allergies or asthma.
- Forced-air systems can also humidify your home using supplemental systems. They can also be a part of a whole-house air filtration system that will improve your home's indoor air quality.
- Unless it's carefully sized and installed, a forced air furnace can be inefficient, especially if it's oversized, which will force it to work in short cycles, driving up energy bills, hastening wear, and decreasing indoor comfort.
- Ductwork can leak air and energy. Unless the ductwork has been adequately insulated, it can lose heat through thermal transfer and air leaks. Air leaks can occur any time, and in some homes, are difficult to find.
- These systems can be noisy.
To learn more about the benefits of forced air furnaces in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas, contact the pros at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call.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 forced air furnaces and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Heating and heat loss aren't really talked about that much in San Jose, but they should be. The average low temperatures from December to February are around 43 degrees, and even in the summer they only rise to around 58 degrees. If your house isn't sealed against heat loss, every time your furnace kicks on, you are losing cash.
We suggest replacing your air filters every three months at the minimum, and checking them once a month. A clean air filter will speed warm air from the furnace or heat pump to your living spaces faster than a dirty one. It will also reduce the strain on your blower motor and allow you to use less electricity.
Check and clean your heating vents once a year. Floor and wall grates are natural traps for dust and debris. Also check the vent connection to make sure there isn't an air leak between the ductwork and register.
Insulate your water heater with a insulating jacket or blanket. This will reduce the amount of radiant heat loss by about 10 percent. You'll also be able to turn down the heater settings 10 degrees or more. For every 10 degrees you turn it down, you could save up to 5 percent on your water heating bill. (If you have a newer storage water heater, it probably came pre-insulated.)
Cover any exposed hot water pipes you have. Insulating them can reduce the heat loss between the water heater and the tap.
Look outside the house at your foundation. Seal any gaps around exterior pipes or outlets. Look for cracks in existing insulation and repair them with expanding foam. Look for other leaks that can be sealed with caulk, spray foam or weatherstripping.
Get on the roof and look for damaged shingles. Fix any missing or damaged areas immediately to prevent water leakage that could render your attic insulation useless.
Check your home's insulation to make sure you have enough of the right kind. Your attic is one spot where it's easy to add insulation, and it will do your home the most good when it comes to saving energy.
Inspect the joints around window and doors. The materials expand in the warm weather and then contract in the cold weather leaving gaps. Seal any gaps with an interior caulk.
To learn more about saving energy at home in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas, please contact us at Valley, Heating, Cooling, Electrical. Visit our website for information on HVAC topics.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 loss and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Keeping your home's air clean by installing ultraviolet (UV) lights is a great way to improve the health of your family. However, if you're not going to keep up with a replacement schedule for the light bulbs, their effectiveness won't last long. Here's how these lights can help rid your air of unwanted micro-organisms and when to switch them out.
The Harmful Effects of Microorganisms
Organic pollutants, such as bacteria, germs, mold spores and viruses, can damage your respiratory system if they enter your lungs. This harm can be even worse if you already suffer from allergies, asthma or other health issues. The good news (for you) is that these micro-organisms have no defense against ultraviolet radiation, which makes UV lights the perfect solution for fighting them.
Working With Your HVAC System
UV lights fight organic pollutants by breaking down their molecular bonds. The lights can't work alone, however. They are installed inside your HVAC system, either treating the evaporator coil and condensate pan directly, or the air flowing through your ducts. As the air containing these micro-organisms passes in front of the UV lights in the ducts, the pollutants are exposed and exterminated. This process will help you remove the greater majority of these pollutants.
Knowing When to Replace the Lights
Neglecting a replacement schedule will circumvent what you're trying to achieve. The schedule is based on how you're using the lights. If they're being used primarily to clean the coils where mold and bacteria tend to form, you should replace them every two years. But if they're being used as a way to clean the air as it's distributed through your ducts, this requires a one-year replacement schedule. Also, keep in mind to never allow any of your installed UV lights to be left unreplaced for more than three years. If they aren't replaced before then, they could damage the entire system.
For more expert advice about the installation of UV lights, or for questions related to home comfort, we can help you at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical. We've been serving the HVAC needs of the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz since 1962. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call.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 UV Lights and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Ductwork for the most part is a hidden and forgotten part of a standard forced-air HVAC system, though it's no less important than any other component of the system that heats and cools your home. The condition of your duct system is important because if it's leaky, old or defective it will put more strain on your HVAC equipment, making it less efficient. It will waste substantial energy as air intended for your living spaces goes elsewhere. So how do you know if your home needs repair or replacement of its ductwork?
- You have original ductwork in your home. Many homes, when first constructed, had duct systems installed that were cheapest and easiest to install and not necessarily of the highest quality. Original duct systems often only have a lifespan of about 10 years. If your home is more than 10 years old, you may want to consider having the ducts inspected.
- Perform a visual inspection of the ductwork where possible. Some or all of the ductwork in the house often can be visually inspected in the attic or crawl spaces of the house. Look for rust, disconnections, duct tape that is deteriorated, and areas where dust has collected on the duct. All of these are signs that your duct system is leaking or obstructed and in need of repair or possible replacement.
- Check for inconsistent temperatures and air flow in the different rooms of your home. Unbalanced air flow could be a sign of blocked or collapsed ducts. Inconsistent temperatures could be a result of air leaks within the duct system.
- Have a duct blower test performed by a qualified HVAC technician. This will help you determine to what extent your duct system is leaking air, and help you know what needs to be done to repair or replace part or all of your ductwork.
Our experts at Valley Cooling, Heating, Electrical are here to help you determine if your ductwork needs to be repaired or replaced Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at 408-294-6290. We provide exceptional services to the 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 ductwork and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
You probably know your HVAC filter needs to be inspected and changed regularly, but when you head to the store to get a new one, you may not be sure which filter is best. Here are some things to consider when choosing among low- or high-efficiency air filters:
Forced-air system filters are designed to capture particulates from the indoor air, and the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value – MERV rating – tells how well a specific air filter will capture the smallest particulates. The higher the rating, the smaller (and more) airborne particles that will be trapped by the filter. Filters running at the low end of the 1-16 MERV scale won't capture the small airborne particles that contribute to poor indoor air quality, while pleated filters in the mid-range – MERV 8-12 – will clean the air while allowing proper air flow in your HVAC system.
Air flow is one of the most important considerations in choosing among low- or high-efficiency air filters. The dense filtering media that will trap smaller particulates from the air also will tend to restrict air flow in your forced-air HVAC system. Newer heating and cooling equipment is often designed to overcome the impeded air flow caused by a higher MERV air filter stronger filters. This is why a higher MERV filter may be recommended for newer HVAC systems. Always consult your heat pump, air conditioner or furnace's manual for what type of filter to use because a filter that restricts air flow too much could burn out the air handler motor and might void the warranty.
Deciding if low- or high-efficiency air filters are best is a balancing act. High-efficiency filters cost more to purchase and to run (because of the impeded air flow), and may require serious system modifications in order to work, or even fit, in your HVAC equipment. You'll want to weigh that cost against your filtration needs. When deciding whether you need a stronger filter, consider allergies, how many people live in your home, pets, and whether you have a separate air purifier. Whether you or occupants of your home have health concerns is another factor to consider.
Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call. At Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical, we serve the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz area.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 Filters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
With the increase in natural and man-made disasters currently afflicting so much of the country, people’s perceptions of disaster-preparedness have been heightened. The sale of emergency generators, for example, has increased significantly in the past couple of years. If you’ve spent any time affected by power outages, you understand the importance of having a secondary supply of electrical power to keep your home operating with a reasonable amount of comfort and convenience.
Emergency generators provide benefits that, when the regular electricity is working, are sometimes easy to take for granted. When the electrical grid is shut down, a generator may allow you to:
- Operate your HVAC system to supply heating/cooling (if your generator is large enough)
- Maintain your refrigerated/frozen foods
- Provide hot water for washing (though your gas water heater likely will work without power)
- Have lighting
- Provide use of TVs, stereos, computers and cell-phone chargers
Generators come in two basic types: portable and standby. Portables should be purchased based on the amount of wattage they provide. The size you require is determined by the type and number of electrical devices/appliances you plan to plug in at one time. They can be stored when not in use and brought out when needed. They may be natural gas- or propane-fueled, which is a plus if local gas stations are closed and you need fuel.
Standby generators are permanently installed and can be set to activate whenever there’s a power failure, with an automatic transfer switch turning off the main supply and shifting to generator-power. They can be installed to operate from your home’s natural gas supply, alleviating the need to shut the unit down to refuel, as with portable models. They are typically much more costly than portable models, but also have a much larger capacity. They come in various sizes, including whole-house models.
Generators need to be operated safely, within their power output capabilities and with a close eye on the potential risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Once you’ve experienced the convenience of a generator when the power goes out, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get one sooner.
Valley Heating, Cooling. Electrical, serving San Jose and all of the Silicon Valley, has been caring for local customers since the early sixties. Contact us for any of your heating/cooling or electrical needs. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call.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 generators and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Making winter vacation plans? In all of your planning, booking and packing, don't forget to ensure the safety of your home while you're away. Thieves prey on homes that appear unoccupied, so make every effort to keep your house alive while you let loose and recharge. Consider the following tips:
- Set your thermostat several degrees lower than normal, or just turn if off entirely if you don't have any pets or plants that are sensitive to chilly interior temperatures. There's no need to keep your home in heated comfort while you're away.
- Invest in flood lighting or a motion light to keep drives and entryways lit during the darkest night hours. Setting a timer on indoor lights also gives your home that "somebody's home" look from afar.
- Don't let the mail pile up. Enlist a neighbor to collect the daily newspaper and mail or ask the post office to hold your mail while you're away. Ask a neighbor to check every day to pick up any unexpected deliveries.
- Leave the name of your HVAC contractor with a close friend or neighbor, along with a house key, in case of HVAC emergencies while you're away.
- Lock all windows and doors, leaving blinds in their normal positions. Consider letting the local police department know when you'll be gone so they can periodically drive by your house.
Don't neglect winter vacation plans; just plan smart. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call. Please contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical for all of your HVAC needs in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz area.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, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
When considering the available options for heating and cooling your home in the San Jose area, nothing seems to make more sense than the efficiency, economy and flexibility provided by heat pumps. Heat pumps require minimal maintenance, have a lengthy life expectancy, deliver reliable heating and cooling, are economical to operate, and are environmentally friendly.
Heat pumps are available in several types. Although each uses the same process of heat transference to produce heating and cooling, they differ in the ways that heat is collected and dissipated during heating/cooling operations. Different types include:
- Air-to-air (also called "air source"); this is what people usually think of when they hear "heat pump"
- Air-to-water and air-to-ground, also called geothermal
- Ductless mini splits, which are a type of air source heat pump that requires no installation of air ducts
In the San Jose area, where winters are fairly short and moderate, air source systems are typically the most practical choice. They are less expensive to buy than the others, and yet will provide you with a comfortable, efficient means for heating your home in winter and cooling it in summer.
The reason a heat pump is so much more efficient for heating than a traditional furnace is because it doesn’t burn fuel to create heat but simply uses heat already found in the outside air to provide warmth. Even when outside temperatures approach freezing, the air still contains a useable amount of heat that can be captured by a heat pump to warm your home.
This is accomplished using two sets of copper coils, filled with refrigerant similar to what’s found in your refrigerator. Since heat energy always seeks a colder environment, the heat in the air outside is absorbed by the coolant in the outside condensing coil, compressed to increase the temperature and then transferred indoors where the heat is released into your living space, via the inside evaporator coil. During cooling operations, the process is simply reversed to capture indoor heat and remove it to the outdoors. For cooling purposes, an air source heat pump has about the same efficiency level as a modern central A/C.
Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical has been a mainstay in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Jose area since 1962. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call.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 pumps and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
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