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Summertime Energy Savings Guide

Where To Save with Your Comfort System

Summer can take a large toll on your home energy bills, which can keep you from fully enjoying the sun, good company, and much needed time relaxing by the pool. Let’s take a look at some helpful tips to save energy in the summertime.

Probably the biggest expenditure during the summer is your air conditioning. Living in the modern world of climate control means you should be able to sit at home in comfort, but that often comes at a price. How can you maintain your comfort while keeping your air conditioning bill low?

Turn up the thermostat. For every degree above 72°F, you save 1-3%, so when you’re at home, set your thermostat to 78°. When you’re out, set it to 85° or turn it off entirely. Use fans in conjunction with these higher temperatures to promote air movement, which will keep your home pleasantly cool.

Install a whole house fan. A whole house fan can bring in cool air and push hot, stagnant air out. Use the fan after sunset and in the early morning.

Increase your attic insulation. During the summer, attic insulation can lock in cool air and keep hot air from seeping into your home. If your insulation is old or has an insulation level of R-19 or less, you should consider increasing it to R-30 or higher.

Seal your ducts. Leaky ducts can account for up to 25% of the average home’s cooling costs. Consult a contractor to test your ducts for any leaks that need to be sealed up.

Replace air filters. Dirty air conditioning filters can prevent proper airflow, forcing your HVAC system to work even harder to pump in cool air and pump out hot air. Filters should generally be replaced once every three months, but during prime usage, you may want to replace them monthly for the maximum benefit.

Replace your entire air conditioner. If your air conditioner is older than 10 years or is showing noticeable signs of wear, invest in an Energy Star certified unit, which will garner up to 10% in savings.

Where to Save With Other Appliances

Saving energy doesn’t have to be a pain or cost you much of anything. In fact, there are plenty of practical steps you can take to keep your bills down.

Use your microwave. Your microwave uses about two-thirds less energy than your stove. That doesn’t mean you should be eating microwave dinners every day, but simple tasks, like boiling water for a cup of tea, can be done much more efficiently via microwave.

Use your dishwasher. Although it is possible to be more efficient washing by hand, it’s tough and not entirely rational. Instead, use an Energy Star dishwasher. Just make sure you only wash when it is fully loaded and air or hand dry your dishes.

Stock your fridge. Keeping your fridge fully stocked keeps it from heating up when the door is open.

Turn things off. Lights, appliances, and other pieces of equipment should be turned off when they’re not in use. Unplug chargers, computers, and other electronic devices as well. Even though they may be off, they can still use up some small amount of electricity.

Be smart with your laundry. Stick with cold water when washing your clothes to save up to 4 percent. Hang or line dry your clothes when possible, but if you need to use your dryer; Clean the lint trap before each use, use the auto moisture-sensing setting, and run only with full loads.

Summer should be about having a great time and making memories, not worrying about the dent that your energy bill is making in your wallet. Use your common sense, and if you ever need help, don’t be afraid to turn to a professional.

San Diego Regional Air Conditioning Tips Infographic

Air Conditioning Tips Based on Where You Live In San Diego

We all want our appliances to last a while, especially our air conditioning systems since we’ve invested hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into them. We don’t envy the thought of purchasing a new one so we’ve created an fun infographic to help! Here are some maintenance and safety tips to extend the life of your system based on where your live here in San Diego:

san-diego-regional-air-conditioning-tips

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint for Earth Day

Tips for Reducing Carbon Emissions for Earth Day

With today being Earth Day, now’s a good time as any to being reevaluating your energy use and taking better care of our dear planet. Carbon emissions are one of the most ubiquitous contributors to the Earth’s ill health. These emissions come from burning petroleum coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels, so driving your car, traveling by plane, and even flipping a light switch create carbon emissions. These emissions contribute to the greenhouse effect, which is slowly warming our globe.

Let’s take a look at how you can reduce your carbon emissions to give our planet a boost this Earth Day.

Be Smart About Heating and Cooling

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, your heating and cooling system accounts for nearly half your energy bill, totaling about $1,000 a year for the average home. The harder your HVAC system has to work, the more fuel it burns, the more carbon dioxide it sends into our atmosphere. Taking even the smallest steps can reduce carbon emissions, including:

  • Changing air filters
  • Using a programmable thermostat
  • Hiring a licensed contractor to check and maintain your system at least once a year

Seal It Up and Insulate

Along with maintaining your HVAC system, make sure you seal up your home. Air leaks and drafts force your system to work harder to heat or cool your home. Some simple steps to keep air in:

  • Inspect your exterior walls and use caulk to seal up cracks and holes
  • Install weather stripping around doors and windows
  • Add insulation to your attic to block heat and cold

Properly sealing and insulating your home can keep your HVAC system a break and save you up to 20 percent in utility bills!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The three R’s remain the most popular and most stated means for keeping our planet healthy, and with good reason. By reducing, reusing, and recycling, you save energy and reduce greenhouse gases generated by manufacturing, extracting resources, and disposal.

Look into recycling programs within your community. Recyclable items include:

  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum cans
  • Glass jars and bottles
  • Plastic bottles

Start a compost pile for your food and yard waste. This affects carbon emissions by reducing the amount of garbage you send to the landfill and gives you a ready source of fertilizer for your garden.

Caring For Our Earth at Bob Jenson

Because we serve customers from all over San Diego and the County you can imagine the old equipment, ducting and trash that comes back to our shop! We take recycling very serious here and while the easy way would be to throw everything away to go to a landfill, we separate wood, cardboard, metal, paper, and other recyclables and take them to the proper locations to be reused and recycled!

We also have to handle things like asbestos, old mercury thermostats, and different types of refrigerants that come inside the units we remove. We have a safe process to follow for each of these hazards. We wet and seal up any small pieces of asbestos in thick plastic. Anything over a certain amount an abatement company safely removes from the customers home. The installers and technicians bring back the old mercury thermostats so we can take them to a safe drop off center. And we carefully recover all old refrigerants into tanks here at our shop, never venting it into the atmosphere, which can hurt our ozone. These tanks, when full, are picked up and the refrigerant is taken away to be cleaned and recycled.

So with some simple steps around the house, you too can make this Earth Day a wonderful day for preserving the planet’s health and beauty for many years to come.

San Diego Home Heating Guide

Home Heating Guide

All homes feature different heating systems—some of them are more efficient than others. As time passes more advancements are made in home heating, allowing us to heat a space efficiently while making as small an impact on natural resources as possible. Regardless of what heating system your home uses, there are ways to maximize efficiency. And if you’re in the market for a home heating system upgrade, the following information will help you choose what direction to take.

Here is a quick sampling of heating methods, old and new, available in today’s homes.

1. Fireplace

The oldest method of heating devised by humans, the hearth fire is mesmerizing and warms both the heart and the body. However, its disadvantages can be considerable. It uses trees as fuel and contributes to air pollution. It is also fairly inefficient at heating large spaces and can be hazardous if regular cleaning is put off for an extended period of time.

2. Pellet or wood burning stove

As an improvement on the fireplace, stoves can burn pelletized wood scraps or smaller pieces of wood and generate more heat. Pellet stoves produce an insignificant amount of air pollution, and the fuel is made from wood waste created by the lumber industry. A stove can heat a large room, but it’s still relatively ineffective at heating an entire house worth of space.

3. Central heating

Central heating generally involves either gas-burning or electric furnace. Colder air is pulled in thru a return vent to be heated by the furnace, filtered and then distributed thru a ducting system thru the entire home. Central heating keeps all rooms evenly warm, but related utility bills can be high depending on usage and fuel type. The furnace and ducts must be checked and maintained regularly. Newer central heating furnaces can have efficiencies of up to 98% and are far quieter than older 80% models.

4. Space heaters

Space heaters are small, portable heaters designed to heat a small area such as a bedroom, bathroom, or office. They can be electric, propane, or kerosene-fueled. They are an excellent option for occasional use in a space that can’t be efficiently heated any other way, but they can be costly to operate; especially if they are of the electric variety.

5. Solar heating

Solar power generators use energy from the sun to either create electricity, which is then used to power traditional central heating, or heat water, which may be used to operate a radiant heating system. Although sometimes expensive to install and not practical in all areas, solar power has the potential to drastically cut a household’s utility costs if managed well.

6. Radiant heating

Radiant heating, often used in conjunction with other methods, circulates hot water in pipes built into the flooring of a home. It is an excellent choice for bathrooms and bedrooms, providing gentle warmth rather than the high temperatures of space heaters or central heating. Radiant heating can be expensive to install and may not be a practical addition to older buildings, but it can lower the monthly heating bill in some building configurations.

7. Heat pumps

Heat pumps are a popular method in milder climates like San Diego’s. These come in several varieties: air-source pumps use electricity to transfer heat between the house and the outdoor air; geothermal pumps pull heat from underground sources and can work well even in very cold climates; and absorption heat pumps can be powered by several heat sources, including natural gas, wood, and coal. Because this is a relatively new technology that requires installation of pipes underground or into walls, the initial cost can be high, but the day-to-day operating costs are very low—even when the primary energy source is electricity. Some heat pumps use a variable-speed compressor to reduce wear on the unit and save energy. Many homeowners use ductless mini-split heat pumps to create zones of different temperatures in their house, further increasing energy efficiency.

The best heating method for any home will depend on several factors, including climate, subsoil, how the house was built, and how the home is used. If you’re not sure what heating system is best for your home or would like an assessment of your home’s current system, give Bob Jenson Air Conditioning & Heating a call. We’ll be happy to help!

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.

Home Energy Yardstick: How Does Your Home Measure Up?

Home Energy Yardstick: Compare your Energy with your Neighbors’

Want to be the most efficient household on the block?

The EPA’s Home Energy Yardstick is a great online tool to help you assess your home’s energy usage and how it compares to similar homes in your neighborhood. You just need to provide:

  • Zip code
  • Square footage
  • Number of full-time occupants
  • Which fuels are used in your home (electricity, gas, oil, etc.)
  • Your utility bills for the past 12 months (this is easier to find than you think!)

Click the link above to get started. When you’ve determined where you stand, use our guide below to reach energy-saving goals.

Measuring and Monitoring Household Energy Use

Want to dig a little deeper than your yearly utility bills to see where, how, and when you use the most energy? Assess information from the following sources:

Automated households can use both home computers and mobile devices to monitor and even save energy. While a high-end “smart home” has such features integrated into the house itself, a regular household can install a lower-level automated system that will tell you everything from which parts of the home are using the most energy and when, to specific usage readings from individual electrical outlets and water sources.

You can also help automate your home in other energy-saving ways, with a simple thermostat, bathroom fan timer, motion-sensor lights, and even by putting your window shades on timers.

Home energy evaluations from a professional organization or contractor like Bob Jenson can provide detailed information about each way your home uses energy, tips for saving energy improvements that are specific to your home, and an evaluation of your existing appliances, HVAC, and plumbing.

Improving Household Energy Efficiency

Once you’re monitoring your energy use more closely, you’ll begin to see trends and identify areas that demand reduced energy use. Now it’s time to find specific ways to reduce your consumption of electricity, water, and burned fuels like oil, propane, and natural gas. And while you can always find ways to further limit your consumption of all three resources, you should also concentrate your initial efforts on the areas where your household needs the most help. Start with the energy and appliances related to your highest average monthly utility bill.

Improving HVAC efficiency: Heating and cooling can demand a lot of energy use, so making the entire system as efficient as possible is one effective way to limit your resource consumption.

  • Replacing an old and outdated system is an investment that leads to an immediate savings on monthly bills that helps cushion the cost.
  • Central air systems can be improved by sealing or replacing older ducts rather than the entire system, although you might find that switching to a ductless system will be better for you in the long run.
  • Correct ventilation is crucial to your HVAC system’s ability to intake air efficiently.
  • Properly insulating and sealing your home will vastly improve the efficiency of your system, in addition to prolonging its life.

Electricity use: Electricity is consumed on a number of levels in the home, and if your home’s heating and cooling system is on electric, this is definitely one to pay extra attention to.

  • Lighting modifications can save a lot of electricity. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents to cut energy use at the source; add task lighting and LED light fixtures on dimmers to use only the light you need; and install a solar lighting tube that lights your home naturally during the day.
  • Electric heat can be inefficient and expensive, but adding a heat pump to the system can make it take a fraction of the amount of electricity to pump warm air from one part of your home to another, rather than using electricity to create the heat itself.
  • “Plug-ins” refers to anything you plug into the wall, from major appliances to cell phone chargers. Our tech-based lives demand a lot of device chargers, and each one continues to draw a small amount of electricity when plugged in but not in use. Simple measures like unplugging chargers and turning off computers and lights can add up to a sizeable energy savings.

Major appliances: Our appliances use electricity, water, and sometimes gas, so maintaining and upgrading appliances to high-efficiency, energy-star units is a change that can save on all resources at once.

Sealing and insulating your home: A well-insulated home has already completed a good part of the journey toward home energy efficiency. Windows, wall insulation, attic insulation, and ventilation should all be evaluated and modified to significantly reduce the amount of energy used to heat, cool, and ventilate your home.

Water consumption: There are a lot of ways we can reduce our water consumption and even save water for a non-rainy day when we need it the most. After replacing old fixtures and appliances inside the home with more efficient models, our outdoor water use is often the next issue to tackle. Replace water-hogging plants with drought-tolerant ones and inefficient sprinklers with drip irrigation or even hand watering, if you have the time. Rain collection barrels store roof runoff for use in the dry months. Back indoors, look for ways to use less dish and bathing water, and even try saving some for reuse in the garden (e.g. catch bath water in a bucket as it warms up rather than letting it run down the drain).

The Importance of Home Maintenance

When we have to replace materials around the home, we’re creating a demand for more supply and production that demands energy use. Maintaining items like appliances and HVAC components not only saves money, but also energy use on several levels both inside our homes and beyond. Bob Jenson A/C offers a solid, affordable maintenance plan for all brands of HVAC equipment to keep things running in top condition and to help avoid high energy usage.

When is it Time to Break Up With Your Air Conditioner?

Your Air Conditioning Not Treating You Right?

It can be a difficult thing to tell your air conditioner, well…it’s over. It may object, but your quick to remind your a/c that it’s never there when your need it and it spends all your money, enough is enough! So when is it time to let go of your old a/c unit? Here’s a fun infographic to help you know:

San Diego Air Conditioning Replacement

What to look for in a great Air Conditioner?

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Great Warranty
  • Brand Quality
  • Professional Installation
  • Don’t buy the Cheapest!

Of course there are many other details to understand when choosing your next A/C system for your home. We have years of experience in helping customers find the right one just for them, call or contact Bob Jenson A/C for free in-home advice!

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