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Tag Archives: Air conditioning

Keeping Your Cool: 4 DIY Air Conditioning Maintenance Steps

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Annual maintenance will help maximize your air conditioner’s performance. Photo: Kelly Plumbing & Heating, Inc. (2017)

Your air conditioner is designed to keep your home cool during the summer, but like any system, it requires ongoing maintenance to sustain peak operating efficiency. While some maintenance steps are best left to an HVAC professional (such as handling refrigerant), there are others you can perform yourself. Here are four DIY air conditioning maintenance steps:

1. Change the air filter. Before turning on your air conditioner for the season, inspect the air filter and replace it as needed. A new air filter will provide cleaner, fresher indoor air in addition to optimizing airflow and general system performance. Continue reading “Keeping Your Cool: 4 DIY Air Conditioning Maintenance Steps” »

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All Systems Cold: A Checklist for Your Air Conditioning System

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Check your air conditioning system early, before the first heatwave hits. Photo: Kelly Plumbing & Heating, Inc. (2017)

“I thought you don’t need air conditioning in San Francisco,” we’ve all heard someone say (usually an out-of-towner). But anyone who lives beyond the city limits knows the truth: that cool and foggy peninsula is surrounded by areas that stay hot and dry well into October. The key to staying comfortable and sane during the summer is a properly functioning air conditioning system. Before you flip the thermostat from “heat” to “cool,” take some simple steps to make sure your system is ready to go. With the Bay Area’s changeable spring weather, be sure to check your system early—you don’t want to be one of dozens of desperate customers contacting HVAC technicians when the first heatwave of the season hits. Continue reading “All Systems Cold: A Checklist for Your Air Conditioning System” »

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On the Road Again: Preparing Your Vehicle for Summer Travels

This summer, stay safe on the road by inspecting your vehicle ahead of an extended trip. Photo: Infiniti Marin (2016)

This summer, stay safe on the road by inspecting your vehicle ahead of an extended trip. Photo: Infiniti Marin (2016)

It’s summer once again—the season for recreational favorites like swimming, barbequing, camping and beach-going. However, let’s not forget perhaps the most iconic summertime activity of all: the great American road trip. With school out and the weather right, summer presents an ideal opportunity for domestic travelers to quench their wanderlust by hitting the open road. However, while you may be ready and raring for your next asphalt adventure, if your vehicle isn’t, your trip could wind up being a lot shorter than anticipated. Continue reading “On the Road Again: Preparing Your Vehicle for Summer Travels” »

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School’s Out: Here Come the Kids of Summer

Parents, get ready, for they are coming.

Best summer tip: throw cranky children in water. Photo: Royal Pools, 2015

Best summer tip: throw cranky children in water. Photo: Royal Pools, 2015

Remember last September? Just after Labor Day, you sent them off with new lunchboxes, pointy pencils and extra-long pants. The classrooms unto which they were delivered smelled of fresh paint. They cried a little, and so did you. You went home to an empty house and drank a well-deserved, oddly uninterrupted cup of coffee.

Well, parents…eight PTA meetings, seven slumber parties, four music recitals and one soccer tournament later, your precious bundles of joy are coming back. Continue reading “School’s Out: Here Come the Kids of Summer” »

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The Importance of Hiring a Licensed HVAC Technician

In order to ensure home safety, it’s important to hire a licensed technician to perform HVAC system repairs. Photo: Cold Craft, Inc. (2014)

In order to ensure home safety, it’s important to hire a licensed technician to perform HVAC system repairs. Photo: Cold Craft, Inc. (2014)

If your heating and air conditioning system needs to be repaired, there are a lot of service companies willing to do the job. However, it’s important to remember that due to the sophisticated nature of HVAC technology, system maintenance and repairs should only be performed by a licensed technician. Hiring an unlicensed, inexperienced company will not only affect the quality of your repair, it can also create a dangerous situation for everyone in your home. Continue reading “The Importance of Hiring a Licensed HVAC Technician” »

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Improve the Efficiency of Your HVAC System

As much as half of the energy used in the average home goes to heating and cooling, so making smart decisions about your HVAC systems can have a measureable effect on both your comfort and utility bills. To increase the efficiency of your heating or air conditioning system, consider the following tips:

Annual tune-up
Just like a car, your HVAC system needs to be professionally maintained at least once a year in order to operate as efficiently as possible. Have an HVAC contractor conduct a maintenance test before the peak heating and cooling seasons begin. If you don’t know which elements to address, Energy Star’s website has a “HVAC Maintenance Checklist” that offers many useful suggestions. Continue reading “Improve the Efficiency of Your HVAC System” »

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Air Conditioning is So Expensive!

 Guest Expert Michael McCutcheon, owner of McCutcheon Construction, tells us about less costly ways to cool your house on hot days.
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Air conditioning is still the best way to cool a building during hot weather, although in very dry climates, one can use evaporative coolers (“swamp coolers”) instead, which use the cooling effect of evaporating water. While they consume some water, they use less energy. They also don’t reduce humidity, and don’t work in humid climate zones since the evaporative effect is so much less in a humid atmosphere.

Presuming you’re in the mixed climate of the Bay Area and need Air Conditioning (as opposed to evaporative cooling), as with any energy device, the first thing to do to lower the cost is to reduce the load. In this case, just as with heat loss in winter, insulation and weather-stripping are key. Adding insulation to your attic will be a big help. Another suggestion is to use a light colored, reflective roof (a “cool” roof). This will reduce the amount of heat rays that penetrate into your home. Alternatively, you can install a radiant barrier, which is a reflective layer under your roof. This reflective layer bounces back the infrared rays to keep your attic and home cooler.

Another good idea is to install double pane windows with Low-E glass. This Low-E glass has a coating (a “low emissivity” coating), which reduces the passage of heat rays (infra-red) while allowing most of the visible light to pass through. If replacing the windows is too expensive, try having window coatings installed. Low-E films applied to the inside of your glass reflect a certain amount of the heat away. However, our experience is that double pane windows (combined with a well-sealed, insulating wood frame) with the Low-E glass are considerably more effective than applied films on single pane glass.

Again, just as with heating loss for winter, make sure your house is well sealed against air leakage. You can have your house tested for leaks by a Home Performance Contractor who will use a Blower Door to measure the amount of air leaking from your home. The less air leakage the better, and you can use sealants, caulking, weather-stripping, etc. to plug any leaks you may have.

Once you’ve done all the load reduction you can, it’s time to take a look at your AC unit. Ideally, it’s Energy Star labeled and is at least 14 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), which means you’ll use less electricity to run the unit. Make sure it’s been serviced recently, and ask the service provider what the efficiency rating is. If your unit isn’t up to snuff, consider upgrading to a more efficient one.

Finally, I suggest you try to locate the condensing unit to a shady spot around your home if possible. Often I see the condensers sitting on the roof or baking on the West or South side of homes, which means they have to work that much harder to cool the home. Best to put them in the shade—North or East.

These ideas can help you stay cool, save money, and help the planet, all in one stroke.

 

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