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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.
Dry air in the winter creates static electricity and not only is it annoying, it's also hard on your home and all the electronics inside it. Static charges occur when the humidity drops below 30 percent, and if you touch something that has low-voltage components inside it, you can damage the product. If you open your computer's case for any reason and touch a part when the humidity is low, you can damage the component without even knowing it. Indoor humidity below 30 percent also promotes the spread of viruses and bacteria, earning fall and winter the moniker as the cold and flu season. When people sneeze or cough in a dry environment, the protective moisture around the germs evaporates quickly, which exposes others who breathe the air or touch surfaces where the particles land. Your home fares no better, since the low humidity dries out any wood products you have indoors. The solution to static electricity caused by low humidity is to humidify the air by using portable humidifiers or installing a whole-house humidifier. Of the two, the whole-house approach saves energy, eliminates most of the work with humidification and distributes an even amount of water vapor throughout your home. Most whole-house systems use a humidistat, similar to a thermostat, to maintain the level you prefer. The work associated with a whole-house humidifier is minimal. The water is delivered and drained through the plumbing in your home. A portable device needs manual filling and may even require distilled water, which can be expensive. It also needs weekly cleaning to lower the risk of bacterial growth. Whole-house systems connect to the air handler and each time it runs, the humidistat controls the amount of water vapor delivered through the ductwork. Each room that your furnace heats receives the humidity, reducing the discomfort associated with dry air. If you would like to learn more about static electricity indoors, contact Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical or call 408-294-6290. We've provided HVAC services for 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 static electricity and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
There are several steps you can take as a homeowner to improve the performance of your water heater. Taking the time to make these small adjustments can result in worthwhile savings, as well as a water heater that runs more efficiently. Five ways you can can improve the performance of your water heater include:
- Purchase an insulated blanket specific to your water heater model to reduce unnecessary heat loss. Available at neighborhood home improvement stores, water heater insulation can greatly improve the unit's efficiency and performance.
- Don't forget to insulated exposed pipes, particularly if the water heater is in an under-conditioned space in your home. Insulation surrounding pipes will maintain the water temperature easier and reduce the workload of your water heater.
- On an annual basis, attach a hose to the water heater and empty out all of the water. This will drain any sediment that may have settled in your tank.
- Check for any unusual odors around the water heater. If there is an odor, it may be caused by bacteria growing inside it.
- Do not turn the water heater thermostat up and down constantly. Choose a setting and leave it in one place. Try to keep it as low as possible and still maintain the desired water temperature.
If you feel a chill in the air, perhaps it's your whole-house humidifier that's feeling under the weather instead of you. Schedule a checkup with your HVAC professional to get rid of that indoor dry-air chill, and you can enjoy greater home comfort and reduce heating costs. How your humidifier can lower heating bills When air is dry, moisture is removed from the skin more quickly, which makes dry air feel colder than optimally humidified air at the same temperature. This fact of nature means that if you maintain optimal indoor humidity (34 to 60 percent) in your South Bay home during the dry winter season, you’ll feel warmer and more comfortable. Since you’re enjoying warmer comfort with proper humidity levels inside your home, you may turn down the thermostat a few degrees and enjoy lower heating bills as well. According to statistics posted by Energy.gov, you can reduce heating costs by about 10 percent by lowering the thermostat three degrees. Is it checkup time? Whole-house humidifiers need annual service to ensure peak performance, which results in energy savings and a longer humidifier life span. Your HVAC professional should perform these tasks during the annual service call:
- The HVAC pro should hear a "click" from the solenoid valve, which automatically opens to allow water flow through the system when the humidifier's turned on.
- The water-metering orifice is inspected for scale accumulation and cleaned or replaced if needed. The water feed tube should be free of debris.
- The water panel needs to be removed and either cleaned (for aluminum panels) or replaced (for foam pads).
- The water distribution tray is removed, cleaned and reinstalled on an even plane to ensure 100-percent water coverage over the water panel.
- The drain line is inspected for wear, debris and to ensure the downward slope is adequate to prevent an air lock, which may result in water overflow.
The Department of Energy (DOE) and a group of HVAC professionals worked on improving the HVAC efficiency standards for the entire U.S. by breaking it into distinct regions, based on heating load. California falls into the Southwestern region where cooling is a larger component in most locations than heating. The changes to the cooling efficiency go up on January 1, 2015. The minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) goes from 13 to 14 for air conditioners and heat pumps. The heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) for heat pumps goes from 7.7 to 8.2 and this new standard applies across the country. The DOE estimates that half of the typical household's energy bills go toward heating and cooling homes. The increase in the HVAC efficiency standards will go a long way toward reducing overall demand for fuel and electricity, something that will help lower problems associated with global warming and the increasing costs associated with energy. Our region has moderate heating and cooling requirements and a heat pump or air conditioner with a variable-speed compressor will help cut down on energy consumption and may increase the unit's SEER rating from 13 to 14. These compressors base the amount of refrigerant they compress based on cooling needs and heating requirements, in the case of heat pumps. Other upgrades that lower electrical consumption and raise the SEER include electronically commutated motors (ECMs) in the air handler that use up to 80 percent less electricity than permanent split capacitor (PSC) motors. They run more quietly, distribute the conditioned air more evenly and remove more humidity in the summer. The pros at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical can help you understand the HVAC efficiency standards and how they affect your home. Visit our website for in-depth information about most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at 408-294-6290. We've provided these services for the Santa Cruz, peninsula and South Bay regions 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 HVAC efficiency standards and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
When you're planning a second-story addition, one of the first challenges you'll encounter is how to heat and cool it. Your options include extending the current HVAC system, upgrading it or installing an independent unit. One of the best things you can do to start the process is work with an HVAC contractor who can help you evaluate the capacity of your current equipment. When HVAC contractors assess HVAC systems, they take into account their age, efficiency and suitability. The contractor typically evaluates the heating and cooling load using Manual J, which uses these factors:
- Levels of insulation in walls and attic
- Number of windows, their efficiency and exposure to the sun
- Amount of air infiltration
- Preferred indoor temperatures
- Number and ages of occupants
- Landscaping factors
Along with ringing in the New Year, the EPA announced its final recognition criteria for Energy Star's "Most Efficient" label for 2013. These criteria have been set so that environmentally conscious consumers can tell the difference between the most efficient products, including HVAC equipment, and ones that only meet federal standards. Products that meet these criteria have proven an efficient performance that's either inspirational, exceptional or leading edge, and are congruent with the concerns of environmentally-aware consumers. Purchasing these products means the highest level of energy efficiency and significant savings.Here’s a list of some of the new specifications that must be met by HVAC equipment qualified for the Energy Star Most Efficient label and the subsequent estimated energy savings:
- Gas-powered boilers: 95 AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) or higher
- Oil-powered boilers: 90 AFUE or higher
- Central air and air-source heat pumps: A minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) of 18 and 12.5 EER (energy efficiency ratio)
- Ductless A/C and heat pumps: A minimum SEER of 20 and 12.5 EER, as well as 9.6 HSPF (heating seasonal performance factor) for heat pumps
- Furnaces: A minimum 97 AFUE
Please note that Energy Star Most Efficient 2013 products' energy use has been compared to those that meet standards set by the federal government.
When shopping for new HVAC equipment, not only do you want to be aware of the important information on the EnergyGuide labels, but be on the lookout for the new Energy Star Most Efficient 2013 label. You can also check the Energy Star website for a complete list of products that meet the new criteria.Visit our website or give us a call at 408-294-6290 for in-depth information on Energy Star products or other HVAC Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical has served 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 Energy Star and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Most homeowners are aware that their furnaces are capable of emitting carbon monoxide (CO), but fail to consider their attached garages as a possible source of the poisonous gas. Taking measures to ensure that your home is adequately sealed against your garage is imperative to the health of you and your family. Here's why: The contaminated air inside your garage can find its way into your home Did you know that your vehicle produces carbon monoxide each time you start it inside of your garage? If you close the overhead door after backing out, the gas will remain inside of the structure until it finds a way out. Even the tiniest leaks in the drywall common to your home and garage can act as a passageway for the contaminated air. Leaks in the weatherstripping around your entryway door can also serve as a medium. And because air tends to move from areas of high pressure (your garage) to areas of lower pressure (your home), it will naturally be drawn inside. Keeping carbon monoxide from your garage out of your house Detecting air leaks is a process that requires specialized tools and sophisticated testing methods. A qualified HVAC contractor will be able to assist you in finding and sealing leaks. One smart idea that will provide extra protection while boosting your home's efficiency is to insulate your drywall and then sandwich the insulation between a second layer of drywall. Your technician may also suggest that you install an exhaust ventilation system in your garage to evacuate contaminated air outdoors. Finally, it's important to equip your home with a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the house. By selecting a device that provides readouts of the current CO level in your home, you'll receive the fastest warning in the event of an emergency. The professionals at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical can help you understand carbon monoxide and its effect on your home. Visit our website for in-depth information on most HVAC topics, or just give us a call at 408-294-6290. We're proud to serve residents of the South Bay, peninsula and Santa Cruz areas. 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 Carbon Monoxide and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of ShutterstockRead More
It can be stressful when choosing an electrician for a home electrical repair or installation. Will he or she do a good job? Can you trust the technician with the task at hand? Thankfully, there are six simple questions you can ask to help determine whether an electrician is worth hiring.
- Is the electrician licensed? Most states and some cities require that electricians be licensed. Review state and local licensing board websites for electricians with the proper credentials. Electricians lacking a license may not be properly qualified to do work in your home.
- Is the electrician reputable? Even in the Internet age, word of mouth is an important factor in helping one select contractors. Check with your friends or neighbors for recommendations. You may also ask for testimonials or references from the electrician. Additionally, scour search engines for reviews.
- Can the electrician obtain necessary permits? Licensed electricians are the only ones that can secure permits for doing electrical work. Choosing an electrician with a license ensures that he or she will repair problems that a building inspector may find.
- Does the electrician carry liability insurance? To protect your property, electricians should carry, at minimum, one million dollars in liability insurance. With the increasing cost of such insurance, a disreputable electrician may choose not to carry it, putting your wallet (and home) at risk.
- Does the electrician guarantee his or her pricing? The electrician should provide pricing information up front. By receiving a contract at the start, you'll avoid an unexpectedly high bill when the work is completed.
- Does the electrician offer a safety contract? Select an electrician that stands by his or her work. The electrician should offer a safety contract, which ensures your home's electrical system is safe.
A well-ventilated home brings in fresh air, circulates it throughout and expels stale and humid air back outside. One area that's often overlooked, however, is the attic. The passive venting system found in most attics cannot sufficiently battle the heat that builds up from the sun beating on the roof in the summer or the humidity caused by warm household air mixing with the cooler outside temperatures in the winter. A solar-powered attic fan is a simple, environmentally smart solution. There are many benefits a solar-powered attic fan can offer:
- Protects against moisture buildup - Excess moisture from condensation in the roof or from air leaks around fixtures and exhaust vents, especially during cooler months, can lead to damaged roof decking, framing and insulation. Attic fans can reduce the risk of mold, rot or ice damming by working with existing attic vents to continually pull moist air up and out of the attic.
- Reduces cooling costs - During summer months, heat in a poorly-ventilated attic can exceed 160 degrees. Even with insulation, that heat will naturally absorb through the ceiling, causing your air conditioner to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. Attic fans can reduce the attic temperature by 40 degrees, and at the same time save energy and wear and tear on your HVAC system.
- The power of the sun - Choosing a solar model means less installation cost because no electrical wiring is needed. Using the sun's free energy, there's virtually no cost for many years of performance.
- Easy installation - A solar-powered attic fan can be installed in just a few hours and with little or no structural changes. No follow-up maintenance is required, and it will run quietly and efficiently season after season.
When your home’s water heater finally gives out, chances are you want it replaced as soon as possible. In the rush to have one replaced, homeowners in the Santa Cruz area often overlook things that could help them choose their next replacement. Buying the first available replacement without doing your homework can have its consequences, including higher utility bills.
There’s a lot for homeowners to keep in mind when it comes to buying their next water heater. Here are a few things to consider for your next replacement:
- Consider the needs of your household. Most storage tanks typically range from 40 to 80 gallons. The size of your household and its hot water needs should determine the size of your replacement. Also keep in mind the first hour rating, or how much hot water it can provide per hour.
- Consider the cost and availability of fuel used to operate the appliance. Depending on the fuel source, certain types of water heaters may prove much more efficient than others. For instance, a tankless hot water unit can be a better investment than a conventional unit due to its more efficient operation.
- Look for water heaters bearing the Energy Star logo, as these are usually among the most efficient in their class. Also be sure to look at the EnergyGuide label on the appliance. Here you’ll find information about its energy efficiency.
- Consider the cost and location of the installation, as costs can fluctuate due to the appliance’s location. For instance, there may be a cost difference between an installation in the basement versus installation on a second or third floor of the home.
- Think about maximizing the efficiency of your new unit. Setting the water temperature to 120 degrees not only lowers utility costs, but it also helps reduce the risk of accidental scalding.
Don’t hesitate to contact us at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical if you have any questions about choosing your next water heater. Give us a call at 408-294-6290 or stop by our website for more info about our services.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 Water Heater and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
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