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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.
Chances are, you've seen it. The bright yellow EnergyGuide Label attached to many types of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment and appliances sold here in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas and throughout the U.S. The label's purpose is to help you compare, before buying, the energy efficiency of various models of central air conditioners, boilers, furnaces, water heaters, heat pumps, window A/C units, pool heaters, refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers and freezers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires the labels as part of its consumer protection role. Whether you'd like to use less energy to save money on utility bills, to protect the environment or a little of both, look to the EnergyGuide label. It provides valuable comparison points beyond the total purchase price to help you determine overall long-term costs for each item. The maker, model and size of the item is described on the label. The EnergyGuide label helps consumers:
- Compare important attributes of the appliance you’re considering and related models within a stated cost range.
- Compare energy usage among models and brands. The label shows a national average of what you could pay in operating costs for one year.
- Compare the range of operating costs for similar equipment.
- Estimate annual electricity usage of the product. Multiply by your local utility company's electricity rate to get an idea of your annual operating costs.
When an experienced contractor creates your home zoning system, there are some basic rules that make the system most effective. When designing a zoning system, best practice guidelines ensure that your upgraded heating and cooling system will save energy, save you money long term and increase your home comfort. The key to laying out an energy-efficient system of zones is in proper grouping of rooms:
- Each floor must have it's own separate zone(s). Combining rooms from different floors within the same zone doesn't allow for the natural heat-rising and cold-air-falling laws of physics.
- Perimeter-walled rooms should not be zoned together with completely internal rooms because inner areas aren't as greatly affected by the outdoor weather changes. Internal rooms should be grouped into their own zone(s).
- Each unique type of construction should have its own zone(s). New additions, for instance, need a separate thermostat, because they're likely to be better insulated than the rest of the house and have different heating and air conditioning needs than the remainder of the home.
- Rooms with radically different heat loads, whether mechanically generated or the sun's rays, should be zoned separately. A west-facing room with lots of morning sun shouldn't be combined into the same zone as an opposite or east-facing room.
- Your thermostat(s) act as your comfort control center and so must be placed in most-used room in each zone. Thermostats installed in a hallway won't accurately reflect the temp of nearby rooms.
- BONUS: Install two or more registers in every zone to balance and stabilize airflow. This technique also keeps air circulating even if one register is blocked by furnishings, rugs or curtains.
Many homeowners here in the South Bay Peninsula and Santa Cruz areas have programmable thermostats to control their home heating and cooling systems. Lots of those same homeowners, however, are not enjoying the energy and cost savings that should come with a programmable. The reason is that homeowners must properly use and program your thermostat to achieve true savings. You'll save energy in warm weather by maintaining a higher temperature in your house when you're sleeping or away and decreasing the set point to 78 degrees when you're home. With a programmable thermostat you won't experience any discomfort since it will “automatically” (once initially set) return the indoor climate to your desired comfort level as you're waking up or returning to the house. Here are some hints about what may be stopping you from reaching maximum energy savings:
- Setting extremely hot or cold temps in an attempt to heat or cool the house quicker, an ineffective strategy. "Smart" or adaptive recovery programmable thermostats make savings and comfort even more effortless by calculating the time necessary to heat/cool the house to the pre-set temperatures/times set by the homeowner and keep track of seasons.
- Using the hold or override feature too often. It's best, from a savings perspective, to allow temp settings to stay at the same set-back levels for eight hours at a stretch or more.
- Using the permanent or vacation hold override. Only use this setting when you are truly going away for a long period. Otherwise use the temporary hold.
- Forgetting to replace batteries annually or when prompted by auto settings in your smart thermostat.
- Using one thermostat for the whole house. Zoning, or dividing the home into several unique heating/cooling areas, practically eliminates energy waste since you can customize cooling and heating for only those areas where it's needed. This is a very cost-effective upgrade to your home comfort system.
If you have a heat pump you use for your home's cooling and heating, it will run more efficiently if you schedule heat pump maintenance any time of year. These systems simply move heat from one place to another, so they can be maintained any time of year. While you can, and should, do some of the maintenance yourself, these systems do require annual maintenance to run at top efficiency. In fact, if your heat pump's warranty is still active, the manufacturer may require annual maintenance from a licensed HVAC contractor. Do-it-yourself maintenance
- Clean the air filter for the air handler regularly during the summer and winter or replace it if it's disposable. Dirty filters increase the wear and tear on your whole system. They slow the passage of air through the air handler, taking longer to condition your home, which raises your electric bill.
- Keep the outdoor condenser clean and free from landscaping debris. If you mow your lawn without a bag to catch the clippings, keep an eye out for a buildup of grass on the fins and coil. Use a light spray with the hose to clear the debris away and remove the dust.
- Checks the refrigerant pressure, looking for leaks if it's low before refilling it.
- Measures and adjust the airflow through the air handler.
- Examine the ductwork system for leaks, sealing if any are present. Duct leaks can drive your electric bill up as much as 50 percent.
- Clean the electrical connections and terminals, lubricating with nonconductive coatings if necessary.
- Lubricates the motors and tightens the belt inside the air handler.
- Cleans the dust off the evaporator coil inside the air handler. Dust on the evaporator coil lowers your system's efficiency.
- Calibrates your thermostat.
One of the best things about living in this state is the legendary California sun. It's great to go outside and soak up some rays but, if you're not using solar heating and cooling, you're not using the sun to its full potential. The advantages of going solar Traditional A/C systems are responsible for about half of your entire home's energy consumption. If you upgrade to solar heating and cooling, you can generate your own energy and nearly eliminate that part of your energy bills. And that's not the only benefit:
- Return on investment: Solar heating and cooling is an investment, whereas your energy bills are an expense that offer no returns. Once you recover the initial price of investing in your solar upgrade, the energy you generate is basically free money. You can even earn credits from your energy provider if your solar equipment supplies more energy to the grid than your home consumes.
- Tax credits: You can recover some of the initial investment through government efforts to reward homeowners who invest in environmentally-friendly technologies. Currently, you can get 30 percent of the costs of the upgrade, including installation.
- No fuel required: You are no longer subject to the up-and-down pricing of energy companies. You'll no longer have to be concerned about whether your provider is going to change your rate every time your contract is up for renewal.
- Environmentally friendly: The sun is a renewable resource. You can rest easy, knowing that you are doing your part to help the earth and decrease America's dependence on fossil fuels and other polluting fuel sources.
You'll have energy independence. If there's a blackout or power outage, which we know too well in California, your solar heating and cooling system will continue to work. Additionally, there are no moving or complex parts so maintenance costs and frequency are much lower.To find the perfect solar heating and cooling system for your home, contact Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical. With more than 50 years of service to South Bay, the peninsula and Santa Cruz, we have the expertise to help you find the maximize your savings and comfort. 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 heating and cooling and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Although ceiling fans don't actually drop the temperature of a room, they do make you feel cooler, letting you raise the thermostat and save on your energy bills. Just as wind outside makes the temperature feel cooler, fans create a wind-chill effect in your home. Therefore, your conditioned air will feel cooler, and so will your natural ventilation.
- Using ceiling fans with conditioned air: When you use these fans with conditioned air, you can set your thermostat about four degrees higher than you normally would without any change in your personal comfort. This helps you to save money on energy costs, and it also reduces the wear and tear on your air conditioning system.
- Using ceiling fans with natural ventilation: In Silicon Valley, it's possible to avoid using air conditioning if you improve your natural ventilation. Ceiling fans can save you the cost of installing a whole-house cooling system. Just run the fans during the hottest parts of the day to circulate the air and help everyone to feel more comfortable.
- Selection and installation: You'll find a wide variety of fans on the market today. When looking for a fan, remember that larger fans move air better than smaller fans. Also, consider the noise generated by the fan. More expensive fans are usually quieter than cheaper ones. Look for the Energy Star label for better efficiency. Fans must move air at least 20 percent more efficiently than standard models to earn the Energy Star rating.
With summer here many people will be heading off on vacations with their family or friends. However, since summer is also a high energy usage time it's a good idea to take advantage of your absence to save money on your home energy bill. There are several effective home maintenance tips that will allow you to do this.
There's no reason to keep your home cool and comfortable when you're not there. You can either turn off your air conditioner entirely or, if you have heat sensitive plants or other items in your home, raise the temperature to about 85°. This will save you a great deal.
One of the most useful home maintenance tips for reducing your energy costs while you're away is to turn off your hot water heater. Just make sure that there is water in the tank when you turn it back on.
If you're going to be gone for a long period of time, much of food in your refrigerator will be expired by the time you get back. In this case, clean out your refrigerator and turn it off.
Many devices in your home use electricity even when they're not in operation. Unplugged any of these devices that do not need to be in operation while you're way.
Turn off all lights that are not needed while you're way. Install a timer for your security lights so they only run when you need them.
These home maintenance tips can provide you with big savings while you and your family are away on your vacation. If you would like any other tips on how to save money on your home energy bill, please don't hesitate to contact Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical by calling 408-294-6290 or via our webpage. We have served the South Bay, peninsula and Santa Cruz area for more than 50 years, and our team of experienced professionals will be more than happy to help you.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 home maintenance and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. Image courtesy of Shutterstock Read More
Lowering your energy bills doesn't have to mean sacrificing indoor comfort or curbing activities that use power. When you control water-heating costs, you reduce the third-most energy-hungry appliance in your home, just after your cooling and heating system. You may not even notice that you've made changes that will save you money on a daily basis. Use these tips to cut down on the energy to heat your water:
- Insulate the water heater tank. Place your hand on the water heater. If you can feel the heat coming from the tank, you need better insulation. Home centers have insulating jackets that are easy to install, especially for electric water heaters. You may need a plumber to place a jacket around a gas heater, since they require precise placement for safe combustion.
- Drop the temperature to 120 degrees, especially after you insulate the water heater. Your dishwasher probably has a booster coil inside it that increases the water temperature to 130 or 140 degrees, eliminating the need to heat all the water in your home to 140 degrees. Besides lowering your utility bill, you increase your family's safety, since water at 120 degrees is less likely to scald you.
- Consider a timer for your heater. Some households use hot water only in the early morning and during the early evening hours. You can control water-heating costs easily this way. It only takes a few hours to heat a tank of water, cutting your standby losses considerably when you don't need hot water.
- Insulate the pipes leading into and away from your water heater. If you have a gas water heater, keep the insulation at least eight inches away from the pipes leading to and from the heater.
- Use less hot water. Use warm or cold water for the laundry and run only full loads in the dishwasher.
Summer heat and strong high pressure systems often result in high energy bills and if it's too hot, can sometimes lead to energy blackouts. However, you can make a few changes to your lifestyle when the heat's oppressive that'll save you money without much sacrifice. Consider these tips to sail through hot weather without incurring high electric bills and lowering the amount of peak usage you require.
- Do as much as you can early in the morning. Wash and dry your clothes before you need to turn on the A/C and use cold water for washing. Today's detergents do a good job without hot water. You may not need to fully dry your clothes if you take them out of the dryer and hang them on coat hangers, letting them air-dry.
- Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees to save money year-round.
- Use your oven sparingly when it's hot. If you have to bake, do so in the early morning or after sunset. Use your slow cooker to avoid the heat from the stove or range. If your yard is fenced and no wild animals live nearby, consider putting it outside to lower the heat indoors.
- Close your drapes or install shade screens to lower high energy bills. Windows contribute a good deal of heat indoors. Lined or insulated drapes do a good job blocking heat, especially when hung close to the glass.
- You'll get the best results by blocking the heat before it comes into your home.Shade screens can block up to 90 percent of the heat coming through your windows. You can have them custom-made or buy kits at home centers.
- Clean the air filter for the air handler inside your home or a window air conditioner. Clogged filters increase your electric bills and create more wear and tear on your entire cooling system.
A noisy air conditioner can be enough to drive you out of your mind. That annoying sound is always there whether you are trying to watch TV, have a conversation or try to fall asleep. While it is possible to reduce the sound produced by a noisy air conditioner, many times it is more cost efficient and easier to replace the entire unit. Causes of a noisy air conditioner Usually an air conditioner becomes noisy when it has gotten older and is on its last leg. The most common culprit for a loud unit is an old and failing compressor, and the only option here is to replace your system. For a newer unit that is noisy, a compressor blanket or the erecting of a sound-barrier fence may reduce the sound, but typically replacement will be your best bet. Because upgrades are usually necessary, here are three suggestions for selecting a quiet syst
- Energy efficiency: While making the switch to a quieter system, you should make sure that you are getting the most bang for your buck. Energy efficient units are designed to be far quieter than models manufactured as little as a few years ago. On top of this, you will delight in a lower monthly utility bill, as your new air conditioner will be able to run more efficiently and effectively.
- Two-stage cooling: Two-Stage cooling systems are also designed to run extremely quietly and to promote energy savings. These innovative systems allow your air conditioner to automatically switch between a low and high operation speed depending on what the temperature demands.
- Easy maintenance: Regardless of what time of cooling equipment you decide to have installed, it's essential that you choose a system which can easily be maintained. Dirty fan blades are a major cause of a noisy air conditioner and can put strain on the system, decreasing efficiency and lifespan. Choose a system that can be cleaned and maintenance simply for longevity and comfort. For more expert advice on replacing a noisy air conditioner, contact the professionals at Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical. We've been serving the Silicon Valley since 1962. Call us at 408-294-6290.
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