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9 Energy Saving Ideas for Winter Heating

Save energy this winter season

Whether your home needs an improved heating system or you want to extend the life of a recently upgraded heating system, these 9 ideas will save your household money and keep it warmer this fall season and throughout the winter.

1) Use a combination of heat sources.

Many households could actually save energy by relying on more than one source of heat. Forced-air central heat can bring the temperature up in a home very quickly but it can cost you to run it all day. Set your thermostat for the heat to come on 30 to 60 minutes before household members start coming home for the day to take the chill off then let the candles keep you warm the rest of the evening.

2) Stop losing heat from windows

Installing blinds or drapes on your windows and keeping them closed while your away can reduce the loss of heat transferred thru your window glass. Insulating blinds can be a great long-term investment that helps trap heat from the day indoors for the night. Heavy-duty winter window treatments can further contain heat on cold nights.

3) Bake in the mornings.

Start your day with a fresh loaf of bread or bake cookies in the morning for a treat later in the day. Homes are coldest in the morning and lighting the oven works double duty by heating the kitchen up fast. If you work early in the morning, try prepping your baking project the night before and popping it in the oven as you brew your morning coffee.

4) Zone Your Existing Central Heating.

We tend to spend most of our time at home in only a few rooms so why heat the entire home when you can split your heating system into zones. This is done by adding motorized dampers to your existing ductwork. Then adding a wireless thermostats in each extra zone and finally a control board to tell each zone what to do. So now, for example, you can enjoy your heating in the kitchen and living room while guest rooms and bathrooms are set at a lower temp or completely off. This saves energy because it reduces the square footage your furnace has to heat. Another advantage to zoning is it can balance the temperature of two story home, finally!

5) Install ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans are a great investment for a number of reasons: they move heat to the places where it’s needed, improve air circulation and quality, and promote better ventilation—all things that support your comfort and your greater heating system.

6) Use a humidifier.

Winter can bring dry air into your home. Adding a humidifier onto you’re your central heating or having a stand alone model can raise the humidity to a more comfortable level and you’ll find you can reduce the temperature you have your heating set at since moisture holds heat better.

7) Turn off inefficient or costly heat sources.

Certain types of electric heat and older gas furnaces may be inefficient and expensive to run. If you can’t replace your heat source this fall, try turning the heat off and using high-quality space heaters in key areas instead. Portable electric oil radiators can heat larger rooms efficiently and effectively, as can electric infrared heat. A ceiling fan can help you distribute the heat to other areas of your home. Keep a small space heater in the bathroom, which can heat up the room in seconds whenever it’s needed.

8) Add area rugs to hard-surface floors.

Some small, seasonal adjustments to home décor can make a big difference in warmth and comfort. Warm up hard-surface floors with plush area rugs in bright colors. Turn off the heat at night and use extra blankets or down comforters instead.

9) Replace windows or add insulation.

Replacing windows is a pretty big investment, but it’s one of the best you can make for your home and one that can be offset by a number of state and federal tax credits, as can adding insulation. Both of these projects are bigger investments with an even bigger long-term return, as energy bills are immediately reduced while home comfort instantly increases. Adding attic insulation alone can significantly improve your home’s ability to retain heat, as a majority of home heat escapes through the roof. High-quality windows and insulation also extend the life of your heating system by placing fewer demands on it in the first place.

Enjoy the cooler season while you heat your home and keep your family cozy with these tips. As always, call Bob Jenson Air Conditioning & Heating if you need any help maintaining your home’s central heating system, improving your attic insulation levels, or upgrading to a more efficient furnace.

6 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle in November

Getting things done before winter comes

Here we discuss 6 home improvement projects to consider completing this fall before the days are short and winter is underway. Each of these fall projects is a step above home maintenance and will extend the life and comfort of your home while helping your household save money on its energy bill each month.

1) Convert to ductless heating.

Ductless heating can offer a number of advantages over furnaces and heating systems that use ducts to distribute warm air. Ductless heat is highly efficient, quiet, and inconspicuous. It is easy to maintain and repair. And multi-zone ductless heating covers multiple areas of your home without the need for ductwork.

Ducted heating is less efficient because the heated air cools down inside the ducts as it is distributed away from the central heat source to the corners of your home. Ductwork can also be prone to leaks that make heating less efficient while causing the unit to work harder. Ducts can also harbor allergens, mold, and dirt that affect air quality.

2) Have ductwork serviced and sealed and furnaces inspected.

Changing your entire heat system isn’t always an option. If you have a central furnace or central forced-air heat, have your ductwork inspected for leaks and other imperfections. Repairing or replacing faulty ductwork makes the system much more efficient and extends the life of your furnace. A professional inspection of your furnace can offer other recommendations for increasing efficiency.

3) Add exterior lighting and heat.

Fall is the best time to install some additional exterior lights around your property before the days get really short. You may enjoy the outdoors a little bit more over the winter with some aesthetic lighting around a covered area. Think about adding lighting along pathways, in a garden, and around poorly lit entrances. Do you have an outdoor grill or a basketball hoop that might get used on winter evenings if it had better lighting?Outdoor heaters can help your family spend more time outside in the cooler months. Consider an outdoor heater or fireplace on a porch, covered patio, or other outdoor living area.The beginning of November is actually a great time to hang holiday lights outdoors. The task is much easier while the days are still a little bit longer, warmer, and drier. And you’ll be glad you got it out of the way once the busy holiday season rolls around.

4) Increase attic insulation.

An attic must be properly insulated and ventilated in order for heating and cooling to work at maximum efficiency. Increasing your attic insulation is another great investment with an immediate year-round return in both comfort and your wallet. Have your attic’s insulation evaluated to find out how much more insulation you could add.If your home cools down particularly fast when the heat isn’t on, you may want to have your wall insulation inspected too. Homes below the recommended insulation level can have additional foam insulation blown into the exterior walls.

5) Insulate or replace your water heater.

If your water heater is in a cool location, you may wish to purchase a thermal water heater blanket to help increase its efficiency. Consider replacing your water heater with a tankless model, which heats water on demand, requires less energy, takes up less room, and never runs out of hot water.

6) Repair or replace the roof.

A leaky roof will lower your home’s heating efficiency and ruin insulation, wood, and other materials. Have your roof inspected for leaks and other damage each summer or fall. The middle of summer can be too hot for roof work, while the dry part of fall is a good time for making roof repairs. A yearly inspection allows you to make local repairs to your roof as needed so that you can extend the life of your roof and avoid replacing it.

Safe Home Heating Tips

Stay Safe, Stay Warm

There are a lot of different ways to heat your home in the wintertime, and all of them can lead to fire and other safety hazards when the proper precautions aren’t taken. These precautions include learning the correct operation and maintenance best practices for each type of heating used in your home, as well as an gaining an understanding of the common hazards associated with those heating sources—and how to prevent them.

Many homes have more than one type of heating installed, and homeowners often supplement those sources with space heaters and other forms of localized heat. Here we’ve discussed the most common types of home heating, the hazards associated with each, and maintenance tips for optimal performance and safety.

But first, some basic precautions that every homeowner should take:

  • Learn the system. Become more familiar with your heating system so you know when it’s working properly and when it’s not. Learn how to perform basic maintenance on your system to keep it running at optimal efficiency to prevent fire and other safety hazards.
  • Schedule detector tests. It only takes a few minutes each month to check all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Hold a detector test at the same time of every month and show each member of your household how to check them. Keep extra batteries on hand so the ones that stop working can be replaced immediately. Carbon monoxide dangers are associated with all types of combustible heating, including fireplaces and wood stoves, so consider installing one in your home even if you don’t have gas or oil heat.
  • Install fire extinguishers. Keep a fire extinguisher on each level of the home in an easy-to-access location and in places where a fire is more likely to occur, such as the kitchen.
  • Create and practice an evacuation plan. Every home should have a fire and emergency evacuation plan and it should be practiced on a regular basis to keep it fresh in everyone’s minds. Make sure you hold fire drills at different times of the year during both the day and night.

Gas Furnaces/Central Heating

Gas heating burns fuel and produces carbon monoxide as a by-product. Carbon monoxide detectors warn us about leaks, but regular cleaning, filter replacement, and professional inspections will keep the system running at top efficiency and safety so that leaks never happen in the first place.

Carbon monoxide sinks, so install detectors low to the ground. Be cautious of installing combined carbon monoxide and smoke detectors too close to the ceiling, or use separate units for optimal safety. Carbon monoxide poisoning will often affect children and pets before adults. Unusual lethargy and sleepiness are two of the first signs to look for.

To avoid fire hazards with central heating, replace filters once a month during daily-use months and have your ducts inspected regularly for leaks. Leaky ducts cause systems to work harder and run longer, increasing the risk of fire. Vacuum in and around the entire unit twice a year to remove dust and flammable debris. Keep intake and output registers clean and clear from furniture, debris, and flammable materials.

Woodstoves and Fireplaces

Burning wood for heat is common but comes with a number of special fire hazards and precautions. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned once a year. Do not use excessive amounts of paper or any liquid flammables to start a fire, as hot, roaring fires can cause a chimney fire. It’s more efficient to keep a smaller, sustained fire anyway. Remember, there’s an art to starting a fire—it’s not just igniting a pile of fuel. Keep your woodpile dry and away from your home’s perimeter. Don’t decorate your hearth and mantel with flammable materials and plant debris.

When burning wood in a fireplace, keep a protective screen around the opening to keep sparks and embers contained. Keep flammable materials well away from the fireplace, hearth, and mantel. Keep a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach of the fireplace, and do not leave a fireplace fire unattended.

Woodstoves should be double checked for proper installation and correct clearance from combustible surfaces. Wood stoves should be burned hot for 15-30 minutes a day to prevent creosote buildup in the stove and chimney.

Woodstoves and fireplaces should be cleaned regularly and ashes should be disposed of properly. Scoop ashes into a metal bucket with an inch of water in the bottom. Wet ashes can be added to a compost pile or applied directly to a garden or other outdoor plants. Do not dispose of ashes indoors or keep ash containers indoors.

Space Heaters

Space heaters are available in many shapes, sizes, and designs these days, and they are often electric. Standalone oil-burning units can also be used but require proper ventilation. Portable units should come with an emergency shutoff in case the unit tips over.

Choose a space heater that suits the space you’re trying to heat, for optimal performance, energy use, and safety. Keep space heaters in a safe area away from children, pets, furniture, and flammable household items.

Stay warm this winter, and remember to put safety first. Contact an HVAC professional like Bob Jenson Air Conditioning and Heating if you need help preparing your home’s heating system for the coming months.

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Get your home prepped for winter

Winter is coming, and even in temperate San Diego, we have to prepare. The weather cools down, we experience storms and wet weather, the trees lose their leaves. We crank up the heat, break out the blankets and coats, and make hot tea a regular evening ritual.

Did you know your home needs some special attention during the colder months too? Winterizing your home is an important part of keeping it in good shape, and the best time to do it is now. See 5 home winterizing tips described below.

1. Clean your windows.

It’s not the most fun job, but washing your windows works two-fold to keep your home warm and comfortable for winter. First, cleaning the dust, dirt, and grime off your windows offers unobstructed light. More sunlight entering your home means more natural warmth and illumination. A good wash also gives you the opportunity to check for cracks in the glass, damaged caulking, and any other punctures in the window’s surrounding structure. Cracks and holes let in drafts and allow warm air to seep out of your home.

While some homeowners will hire professional window cleaners, you can do it yourself quite easily. Purchase a commercial window cleaner or make your own by mixing a quarter cup of white vinegar with a gallon of water. If you don’t have a soft cloth on hand, wipe your windows using newspaper, which is absorbent but won’t leave lint (wear gloves if you do this—the ink does bleed).

2. Get your furnace/heating system inspected.

Your heater is your main line of defense against the winter cold, so it’s a good idea to do the important maintenance now, while the weather’s still nice. Call an HVAC professional like Bob Jenson Air Conditioning and Heating to take a look at your heater. A professional can oil the bearings, check the fan belt, remove any dust and debris—both of which can significantly decrease your heater’s efficiency—and make sure that everything is in working order.

One thing that you can do without professional help is checking and replacing the filter. A dirty filter prevents the heater from operating efficiently, forcing it to work harder and leading to a bigger dent in your wallet. You should replace the filter once a month for best results.

3. Insulate.

Insulation keeps the warmth in and the cold out, so make sure that all parts of your home are properly insulated. One of the most ignored parts of the home is the attic. As heat naturally rises, you need to make sure your attic has plenty of insulation. Otherwise, all that precious warmth will just rise up and out of your home. Experts recommend about a 12-inch depth of insulation in your attic. There are several different types of insulation to choose from, so contact HVAC experts like Bob Jenson if you need help selecting an insulation that works best for your budget.

If you live in the mountainous regions of San Diego like Pine Valley or Julian (but last winter we had freezing temperatures countywide), you should consider insulating your pipes as well. Frozen water will cause the pipes to burst, warp, or otherwise prevent them from delivering water to and from your home. Most hardware stores offer foam insulation tubes that are affordable and fairly easy to secure to your outdoor pipes.

4. Clean out your gutters.

Okay, San Diego sees maybe seven days of rain in the entire year, but you still have to be prepared. Even a small storm can cause water damage to your roof, walls, and foundation. Gutters are designed to move the moisture away from your home to prevent leaks and damage, but that’s assuming they’re not clogged up with dead leaves and dirt.

Scoop out any debris in your gutters then flush them out with a spray from your garden hose. Patch up any cracks and repair other damages. Your gutters should fit snug against your home, not hanging loose and crooked.

5. Reverse your ceiling fan.

Turning on your ceiling fan is probably the farthest thing from your mind when you’re shivering under a blanket. Hark! Your ceiling fan is actually more helpful than you think. See, most ceiling fans have a reverse function that allows the blades to move clockwise. As mentioned earlier, heat naturally rises, so it tends to hover closer to the ceiling than down at the carpet. The reverse motion of the fans forces the warm air around your ceiling back down while drawing the cold air up and away. The constant movement also keeps the air from feeling stagnant.

Make sure you and your home stay warm and cozy this winter with these tips and you won’t have to worry about winter utility bills that are harsher than Jack Frost.

5 Ways to Save Money on your Central Heating

How to save money on your Central Heating.

Everyone loves a warm and cozy home but as we all know it can get costly to use your central heating when it gets cold and rainy. Here are five ways you can save money on your central heating bills.

bob jenson save money heating home mock 3

Just like your car, a central heating system will cost you more money if it’s not maintained each year. We offer annual maintenance programs that have great benefits and will keep your system performing at it’s best. Call or contact us today!

3 Reasons Your AC/Heating System Needs Regular Maintenance

Why an Air Conditioning Maintenance?

Say it’s really, really hot outside. You hit a button to turn on your HVAC unit. Your home fills with cool air. You relax, and probably take a nap.

But while you’re enjoying that cool air, a lot is going on inside of your air conditioning and heating system that you don’t know about. Over time, lots of little things can go wrong, and eventually that air is circulating a temperature and other things that aren’t ideal.

This is preventable, however. Regular air conditioning maintenance can help counteract the natural wearing down a machine experiences over the course of its usable life. It’s the same reason you get your car and bike tuned up and the same reason you switch out the blades and spark plugs on your lawnmower.

If you can prevent a huge inconvenience (and price tag) with a little preemptive TLC, isn’t that worth the cost of regular maintenance? Here are three reasons your AC/heating system needs check-ups by proven professionals.

Dirt, Grime, Dust, Bugs, and Other Nasty Things

Believe it or not, there are bugs inside of your walls. There is also dirt, dust, grime and other nasty things that can get caught in your HVAC unit and cause damage. Now, that isn’t to say your walls are overflowing with spiders and centipedes; but even the few ladybugs or flies that collect over time can cause trouble.

Picture a logjam on a river. The same concept applies here. Your vents may need cleaning, or at least the filters on the HVAC unit itself. The good thing is that this is an easy fix, and our repairmen can get it done quickly when they come for your routine maintenance appointment.

One Errant Spin

Here’s a major problem that can occur over time without any obvious causes. Whenever a machine utilizes rotating parts, there is a chance that those parts will eventually get out of sync. Any number of things could cause this to happen: extreme temperature fluctuations, surges (which we will discuss in the next section), age, and even nothing at all.

As the fan becomes more and more out of sync, the components that depend on it and that it depends on will also cease to function perfectly. Without properly synched components, your AC and your heat may no longer work up to capacity.

Hopefully you have preventative maintenance conducted before this happens. The experts at Bob Jenson can identify and quickly repair any components of your HVAC unit that are beginning to lose sync or integrity before they become major projects.

Raw Tesla Power

And now we get to perhaps the scariest of possibilities: electrical surges. Your home is powered by an alternating current (thanks in great part to Nicola Tesla). This current, like any other source of electricity, is prone to surges from outside your home and within.

For example, if lightning strikes your home, there’s a very good chance that high voltage current will surge through your electrical wiring at a greater capacity than most electronics can handle. These unprotected electronics blow out, which is why surge protectors were invented. Imagine a piece of string with an enormous knot tied into the middle. If the string is electrical current, the knot is a high voltage surge.

Now picture a string with several small knots tied a few inches apart. These smaller knots represent surges that come from within your home. These are much, much less devastating in nature than lightning strikes, but they can still do damage.

The solution here is to have your repairman test your electrical system to ensure your HVAC unit is protected from both high voltage surges and those normal, everyday surges. He or she will be able to tell if your unit requires a replacement surge protection unit or if yours just needs a bit of tweaking.

We’ve listed three common reasons that your HVAC unit needs regular routine maintenance, but this is far from a comprehensive list. If you suspect that your unit is beginning to act abnormally, or if it is already showing signs of disrepair, call Bob Jenson and schedule your thorough checkup. As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine.

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