Top Alternative Heating Options Available to Homeowners

Most homeowners rely on forced air heating units to heat their homes during the colder months, but there are several other options available. Listed below are our top picks for alternative heating options.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

For new construction, geothermal heating is an excellent choice. Geothermal heating works by utilizing the heat from the ground, which maintains a steady temperature between 45 to 75 ºF. Large coils of tubes are placed into the ground, and the tubes circulate water that heats up from the Earth’s temperature. The extracted heat from the water is then used to heat your home.

During cooler months the ground temperature itself can be much warmer than the outside air. Due to the ground already starting at a warmer temperature, it is much easier and more efficient for the system to reach the typical 70 ºF Temperature on your home’s thermostat. During warmer months, the system can also efficiently cool your home by using the earth as a heat sink, rather than a heat source. The initial investment of a geothermal heating system can be pretty substantial, but since this type of heating uses less energy, it can save you big money in the long run.

Pellet or Wood Burning Stoves

Depending on the size of your home, pellet or wood burning stoves can be a sensible choice for heating. You’ll need to purchase a stove that is appropriately sized to your home; otherwise, you’ll either be wasting energy, or your unit won’t big big enough to adequately heat your space. High efficiency models are now available which use less energy overall.

Both pellet stoves and wood burning stoves have their own pros and cons. For example, a pellet stove in general has fewer particle emissions, but may require electricity, making it vulnerable in times when the power goes out. Wood burning stoves, on the other hand, can be used without reliance on electricity, but you’ll need more wood than pellets to generate the same amount of heat.

Before considering having a wood or pellet stove installed, you’ll want to contact your local environmental office or codes department to find out the restrictions for wood burning or pellet stoves.

Solar Water Heating Systems

When looking for alternative heating options for your home, solar water heating is often a good choice. These types of heating systems utilize the sun’s energy and are available in a wide variety of designs. These variations are usually regarding the type of energy collector and circulation system the the heaters have. Options include:

  • Flat plate-collectors, usually made from copper tubing fitted to collecting plates
  • Batch-collectors, (or Integrated Collector Storage Systems) which both heat and store water in tanks and are not recommended for cold climates
  • Evacuated tube-collectors, which is the most efficient method of solar water heating as it is constructed in the same manner as a thermos, and therefore loses very little heat

If you’re in the market for an alternative to a forced air HVAC system, give us a call and learn how our services can help you with your heating needs.

Why Heater Maintenance is Important (Even if You Don’t Use Heat That Often)

With the moderate temperatures and beautiful weather in Southern California, you may not find yourself turning on your heater very often. However, even if you do not use your heat often, it is still important to get annual maintenance on your heating system. Damage and wear can occur while your heater is dormant for most of the year, leading to system failure or other malfunctions when you finally start it up again in winter. A fall tune-up can help you prolong the life of your heater and keep it working efficiently when you do want to use it.

Why Heater Maintenance is Important

Even if you are not running your heater constantly, it is nice to have a working heating system when you need it. Some HVAC experts have reported that up to 75 percent of the service calls they get for broken heaters in the winter are related to lack of maintenance. If you don’t get your furnace serviced annually, you may find yourself left out in the cold this winter.

Not only does a non-maintained heating system run less efficiently, which costs you money, but it can also be hazardous to your health. An HVAC technician can identify carbon monoxide leaks during an inspection, which can be quickly fixed to prevent health issues. The gas is colorless and odorless, making it difficult to detect without a furnace inspection.

Winter HVAC Maintenance Checklist

In addition to getting a regularly scheduled heater tune-up from a certified HVAC technician in the fall, there are also some steps that you can take to keep your HVAC system maintained between service visits:

  • Replace your air filters regularly. Though it depends on the type and brand of filter, typically, homeowners should replace disposable air filters or clean washable filters at least once a month. The best way to ensure that your airflow remains unrestricted is to visually check the filters and filtering equipment monthly and clean or replace when filters look dirty.
  • Keep outdoor units clear of debris. To keep your system working efficiently, you should keep any mounted outdoor units clear of clutter, weeds, and debris that may reduce the airflow to the unit. Similarly, keep any plants or shrubs at least one foot away from the unit and use caution when trimming weeds around the unit to prevent any damage.
  • Keep pets away from outdoor unit. It is also important to keep your pets away from the outdoor unit as pet urine can cause damage to the system that may be quite costly to repair.

Though some maintenance needs to be performed by a qualified technician, you can use these simple maintenance tips year-round to prevent damage to your unit and keep your system running optimally.

J & M Air Conditioning and Heating wants you to get the most out of your heating and cooling system. That is why we recommend annual heater maintenance, even if you do not use the heat that often. If you need preventative maintenance or a furnace tune-up before winter, contact us today.

A Basic Guide To Heat Pump Shopping

Clients who want to save money on installation costs, repairs, and maintenance often choose a heat pump system for their household temperature control needs. The experts at J&M Air Conditioning & Heating are always happy to evaluate each home, determining whether these systems are right for you—and if so, which one.

A Basic Guide to Heat Pump Shopping

Determine Which Heat Pump Is Right for You

Though the name suggests that heat pumps only generate warmth, they take care of cooling needs as well. Depending on the system, they do this in a variety of ways. The following is a basic guide to the two primary types of heat pumps.

Air-to-Air Heat Pumps

  • Are the most common form of these systems. Each has an indoor and outdoor component. The inside portion contains a coil and blower, which pumps hot air into or out of your home, depending on the season. The outside segment of this system has a compressor as well as another coil and fan.

Indoor and outdoor elements combine to push unwanted hot air out of the home, filling the void with cool air in the summer. In the winter, this process reverses to heat your house. Most of our customers see an approximate 50% reduction in energy use for heating after installing air-to-air heat pumps in their homes.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

  • Geothermal systems move heat from the home into the ground or water sources. Units that transfer heat to the soil are called ground-source, while water-based systems are known as water-source. The upfront costs associated with these units are higher than their air-to-air counterparts are, but geothermal units have lower operating costs. Since ground soil and water temperatures are more consistent than air, it takes less energy to transfer heat into or out of them.

Geothermal heat pumps generally reduce energy use in the home by about 30 to 60 percent. The lot size, the presence of water, and the soil and landscape types determine whether a ground- or water-source heat pump is right for your home.

Take The Next Steps

If you’re interested in one of these heat pumps to reduce energy costs and consumption in your home, call J&M Air Conditioning & Heating. Our experts will assess your property to help you decide which unit is best suited to your needs. We’ll survey the surrounding land to find an ideal unit location. Our team handles the installation from start to finish and provides ongoing maintenance, so you’re never alone if you have questions. Contact us today to set up an appointment and learn more!

10 Geothermal Heating and Cooling Myths

Geothermal heating and cooling consists of buried pipes beneath the property and an indoor handling unit. The pipes heat and cool the indoor air as needed, through utilizing belowground temperatures, which stay relatively consistent.

10 Myths about Geothermal Heating and Cooling

These systems have been used for over 60 years, both in the United States and abroad. Many real estate owners are unfamiliar with just how the systems work, however, and there are therefore many myths surrounding their usage.

1. Since geothermal HVAC systems use electricity, they aren’t a renewable technology.

Geothermal HVAC systems use just one unit of electricity in order to move as much as five units of heating or cooling. This one unit delivers the energy from the earth to the building.

2. Wind and photovoltaic power are better renewable technologies than geothermal HVAC systems.

While photovoltaic power and wind power play an important role in adding to the electrical grid, geothermal HVAC systems actually remove four times the kilowatt-hours of consumption. Geothermal HVAC systems are quite often the best way to reduce conditioning’s environmental impact.

3. To Use Geothermal HVAC, You Need a Lot of Yard Space or Real Estate

Some earth loops can be buried vertically, which means that you won’t need much aboveground surface. The vertical position is dependent upon the physical characteristics of your land. Additionally, you can tap into an existing aquifer if one is available, which means you’d only need to use a few square feet of real estate.

4. Geothermal HVAC heat pumps emit too much noise.

In reality, these systems are very quiet, and since there is no outside equipment, your neighbors shouldn’t hear anything.

5. Geothermal systems don’t last long.

The indoor equipment usually lasts for decades and is less expensive to replace than traditional HVAC systems. While earth loops are more expensive to install, they usually last for generations.

6. Geothermal HVAC systems can only heat, not cool.

These systems cool just as well, and they don’t require an additional backup heat source. Some customers do prefer to have a small backup to use on the coldest days so their loop can be smaller.

7. Geothermal HVAC systems can’t heat everything at once, like indoor water, a house and a pool.

HVAC systems can actually be designed to heat multiple things at once.

8. Geothermal HVAC systems end up putting refrigerant lines in the ground.

The majority of systems only use water in their loops and lines, which makes them an even more environmentally friendly option.

9. Geothermal HVAC systems use a lot of water.

In the past, there have been “pump and dump” systems that wasted water after it passed over the heat exchanger; however, those systems are now very rare. In fact, geothermal systems actually don’t consume any water. Instead, the water is taken and returned to the aquifer.

10. Geothermal HVAC technology is too expensive.

There are federal and local incentives for purchasing geothermal HVAC technology, which makes the price competitive with most conventional equipment.

If you’re looking to lessen your carbon footprint without losing the often-needed ability to heat and cool your home, geothermal HVAC systems may be the answer. Speak with your HVAC company for more information.

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Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New AC or Furnace

Over time, all homeowners face significant expenses for the upkeep of their property. Sooner or later, the need to purchase a new air conditioner or furnace is a pretty likely scenario. If you’re unprepared to make an educated purchasing decision, you can potentially buy an AC or furnace that performs poorly and forces you to spend money on higher utility bills or unanticipated repair costs. Here are some of the prime mistakes when you start shopping for your new unit.

Not Matching the Unit to Your Household

Every residential building layout calls for a specific amount of heating and cooling output. For this reason, air conditioner and furnace manufacturers create product lines geared to suit a wide range of needs. Before you make a purchase, you must know the AC and/or furnace size that will cool or heat your home properly. If the unit you buy is too large or too small, you can run into serious issues that include constantly unpleasant indoor temperatures, a jump in the amount of money you pay for monthly utilities and unexpected AC or furnace breakdowns.

Being Too Frugal at Purchase Time

No one wants to spend money needlessly, especially when it comes to something as costly as a new air conditioner or furnace. However, if you put the purchase price of a furnace or AC before all other considerations, you may be doing yourself a major disservice. That’s because the cheapest available units may have significant reliability and efficiency issues that put you on the hook for frequent repairs and much higher utility bills.

Putting Efficiency Low on Your Priorities List

The most efficient air conditioners and furnaces available today use far less power than the least efficient. As a rule, less efficient units have a notably smaller purchase price than higher-efficiency units. This fact might encourage you to place efficiency low on your list of buying priorities. However, if you spend the extra cash on a more efficient AC or furnace today, the savings in utility costs you receive over time may actually exceed any amount of money you save by opting for a less efficient unit at purchase time.

Not Giving Due Consideration to Your Contractor

Contractors have a crucial impact on the process of purchasing and installing a new air conditioner or furnace. While a reputable, cost-conscious provider can help make this process go smoothly, a provider who’s disreputable or doesn’t pay close attention to the bottom line can complicate matters to no end. Important contractor-related steps include verifying the professional reputation of all potential candidates, comparing the prices offered by at least two reputable providers and finalizing all agreed-upon work with a written contract.

For more information on need-to-know heating and cooling topics, please bookmark our blog and check back with us regularly.

Are You Getting Bad Furnace Smells?

If your furnace is working the way it should be, then it should not be creating any type of odor. Furnace smells are indicative of some preventable or correctable issue that you should address and not ignore.

Not all problems are indicated by furnace smells, but if you do find your unit is producing an odor, it will need to be repaired. Here at J&M Heating and Cooling, we can help you learn about different furnace smells, so that you can catch any issue that may arise. Below are a few common furnace smells that your furnace may produce and what those smells may indicate.

Minor Problem Furnace Smells

This section will address specific furnace smells that may indicate minor problems. Even though these problems are not all that serious, they do not need to go unnoticed. If you have any of these issues with your unit, J&M can provide the repair service you need to have clean air once again.

Dusty Smells

Furnace smells that smell like dust most commonly occur when the furnace has not been used for a long period of time, or right at the beginning of the heating season when you first turn it on. This dusty smell is caused by collected dust inside the unit that starts to burn away when the unit is turned on.

This problem is not immediately harmful to your furnace; but over time the burnt dust will leave a residue that can collect and damage the internal components. To fix this problem and prevent future complications, call and schedule your annual cleaning and checkup with us at J&M Heating and Cooling.

Musty Smells

Furnace smells that are musty are created by mold collected in the furnace filter. If you had a humid summer or your humidifier was too moist in your basement, mold can very easily develop inside your filter. The mold in the furnace doesn’t necessarily cause a problem with the equipment but it can cause a problem with your health. Mold is potentially dangerous to your health if it is inhaled, so that’s why it is important to get rid of the mold before you ever turn your furnace on for the winter.

Major Problem Furnace Smells

This section is designed to address the major problems that a smell from your furnace may indicate. Unlike the minor problems that are mentioned above, these problems will have to be repaired by our trained professionals and can permanently damage your system.

Oil Smell

If you smell oil coming from your furnace and it doesn’t go away after a day, this means that you could have an oil leak. An oil leak will require furnace repair by our professionals. An oil leak is very dangerous and it is important that you shut off your furnace immediately and contact us to come check out the problem.

Electrical Smells

If you smell something that reminds you of burnt plastic or metal, this could be an electrical issue. Electrical smells tend to be caused from melted wires, burnt out motors, or other malfunctioning electrical components have burned. If you suspect your furnace is burning you need to shut the power off and contact us ASAP.

Choose J&M Heating and Cooling

Don’t ever wait until it’s too late if you experience an odd smell coming from your furnace. Our goal here at J&M is to put a stop to the problem before it becomes unfixable. Aside from helping you when you notice odors, we can assist you with any furnace maintenance you may need. We have a team of highly trained professionals that are always more than happy to help with any of your HVAC problems, even if it’s not a furnace issue. If you have any more questions or would like to schedule a furnace repair, please give us a call.

Extending Furnace Lifespan

Maybe you have just recently installed a new furnace and want to keep the unit energy efficient, or perhaps you have an older system that needs to have an extended furnace lifespan. Here at J&M Air Conditioning and Heating, we want to help you get the maximum for your furnace lifespan.

In general, most furnaces will last somewhere around fifteen years, but if taken care, you can extend the furnace lifespan.

Optimize your investment by performing proper HVAC maintenance on your furnace, a service that we can provide. Below are a few tips to help expand the longevity of your furnace.

Filter Changes & Furnace Lifespan

The most important tip when it comes to furnace lifespan is to change the filter properly. Dirty filters can clog up the internal furnace components and degrade the efficiency of your unit. We suggest that you change your filter every thirty days, if you are running your system constantly. If you only run your unit intermittently, just make sure that you keep a close eye on the filter after you have been using the same filter for over thirty days.

If you are all about going green or maybe just want to save a little money, you can purchase a reusable filter. Reusable filters are designed to be used multiple times. All you have to do is rinse it off with a hosepipe every thirty days.

Furnace Cleaning and Inspection

Yearly HVAC maintenance is very important when you are trying to see longer furnace lifespan. We have a thirty plus point checklist that we use when we perform our yearly maintenance on your HVAC system. Our technicians will check your furnace inside and out to ensure that it is ready to go for the cold winter months. If you have recently purchased a new furnace with a warranty, you may think that it doesn’t need to be checked. However, most warranties require annual maintenance from a certified contractor in order to remain valid.

Energy Efficient Home

Another way to extend furnace lifespan is by reducing the strain that is put on the unit, referring to the heating load. It is important to have your home and ductwork checked for any air leaks and making sure that it is insulated properly. We can help you with that here at J&M Air Conditioning and Heating. Not only will these steps help preserve your furnace, but they will also help reduce your energy bill every month.

Be Vigilant

By being vigilant, we mean that you need to act on anything that could be wrong with your furnace. If you hear an unusual noise, don’t ignore it. The noise could be a sign that your furnace is on the verge of a breakdown. Not every issue will lead to a complete breakdown, but it is good to be on the safe side because an easy repair now could prevent an extreme and expensive repair later.

Even with the best care and precautions taken, your furnace is not guaranteed to last forever and that’s where we come in. If you need to have your furnace inspected because you think it may be on verge of a breakdown or if your furnace quits and you have to install a new one, we can help! We have a team of highly trained technicians that are always eager to help just give us a call.

Contact our office today to learn more about the quality services we provide, including furnace maintenance, installation and repairs. We are here to serve you!

Heater Malfunction

Winter is officially here. As we all snuggle up in our homes to stay warm, the last thing we want is a heater malfunction. Nothing can be quite as aggravating as being warm one second and then becoming instantly cold because your home heating system has stopped working. Here at J&M Air Conditioning and Heating, we strive to provide quick service during the winter months, when your heating system decides to shut down. Below are a few reasons why you may experience heater malfunction and how the unit will need to be repaired.

Heater Malfunction – What to Expect

Heater malfunction is not always noticed. They usually don’t make a loud dramatic scene to let you know that they are breaking down. It is up to you to recognize the signs of a heater malfunction. Don’t panic however, because that’s what we are here for. Check out the scenarios below that you may experience when during heater malfunction.

Sudden Heat loss

Sudden heat loss is one of the most classic issues to take place during a furnace breakdown. The furnace shuts off unexpectedly and you may not even notice it until your home gets really cold. This problem tends to occur at the coldest part of the night, so you may be asleep and not even notice it until the next morning. This could be caused by a large number of issues such as; loss of power, pilot light, or faulty wiring. Since there are so many possible causes of sudden heat loss it is important to leave the heating maintenance up to us here at J&M Air Conditioning and Heating. We can assess the unit and determine what the issue may be.

For example, if your pilot light ignition switch is out, we will replace it so your unit can operate once again. This is just one of many reasons why the system may have stopped producing heat.

Short Cycling

Short cycling is when your furnace clicks on and off in short bursts instead of sustained durations. Since the furnace is operating on such short operating times, your home will never get warm like it should and the start-stop nature of operations will quickly add to the wear and tear of your heating system. If you notice that your furnace is short cycling, it is most likely due to a dirty filter.

The clogged air restricts the airflow, which causes a backup of air. The furnaces internal temperature will then reach high levels and the safety shut off switch will turn the unit off. Then because the thermostat is set to a certain temperature, it will fire your furnace back on repeating the same cycle. This is not good on your furnace and could lead to some major safety concerns if the internal temperature of your furnace gets too hot. If you believe your unit is short cycling, contact our office for an immediate response.

Call J&M Air Conditioning and Heating

Here at J&M Air Conditioning and Heating, we are here to help you with all of your HVAC maintenance needs. We have a team of highly trained professionals that are always eager to help. Whether you are having problems with your furnace like those listed above, or having some other issues on different heating systems, we have you covered. Customer satisfaction is one of our main goals and we make sure to provide only the best customer care and service in the HVAC industry. If you have any questions or concerns about your heating system, please give us a call or visit us on the web.

Heat Pump Inspection

At J&M Air Conditioning and Heating, we provide only quality service when it comes to your HVAC system. Heating units such as furnaces and heat pumps, require repair service when issues arise. Our quality maintenance service can help to catch any repair need and keep your operational for the cold winter months. As a home owner, it is important for you to understand when maintenance service is needed. By having a heat pump inspection done, you can rely on it for warmth during the winter season.

Heat Pump Inspection Before Winter

Our first approach to heat pump inspection is before winter arrives. We will inspect your unit in the fall, before you will need it. Each component is inspected, lubricant added and cleaning conducted to ensure your system is ready to service your home as the temperatures begin to drop. If any issue is found, our technicians will quickly make the repair to have the unit back on track, just in time for winter.

Heat Pump Inspection After Winter

Once the cold season is over, another heat pump inspection needs to be done for any damage. A heat pump can be subject to harsh climate changes depending on where you live. Before you shut down the unit for spring and summer, do a heat pump inspection. Our licensed and qualified technicians will go over your unit, searching for any problems or concerns. If your unit is ready to be shut down, the system is cleaned and will be ready once the winter arrives next year.

Without Regular Maintenance

When you do not have your heating system maintained, you will be subject to several HVAC issues over time. Repair service will be a constant need and you will spend more for the operation as well as repair of your unit than need be. By simply scheduling maintenance service twice a year, you can rely on your heat pump to keep your family nice and comfortable year round.

Cleaning the Fans

The first step our technicians take with the outdoor portion of your heat pump is to clean the fans. The outdoor portion of the unit can become clogged with leaves, sticks, ice, and debris that can be damaging. Any clogs will be removed and the fans cleaned carefully to ensure your unit can function as needed during the winter season.

Piping Insulation Inspection

For the heat pump to provide heat or even cooling, the insulated pipes must be in proper working order. The insulation prevents any heat from transferring to the air outside. This portion of the unit must be insulated well to operate effectively. During the peak seasons, a technician will inspect the piping insulation during maintenance service to ensure that you do not have any broken or faulty areas. If any issue is found, a technician will make the appropriate repairs so your unit is also be function correctly.

New Installation

If you find that you are having your unit repaired time and time again, you may want to consider a new heat pump system. We offer only quality name brand units to assist you in heating and cooling the home. A heat pump is a dual system that will provide you with maximum energy efficiency during the extreme seasons. Let our technicians look at your existing unit and determine if a new, higher rated model will provide you with quality savings each month as well as less energy usage. You may find an investment in a new unit will be more beneficial than an older system that you continually have to repair.

To learn more about our maintenance services and how we can help service your heat pump system, call our office at J&M Air Conditioning and Heating today!

A Word to the Wise on Pre-winter Maintenance

When the fall season arrives, many home owners begin to enjoy the coolness of the outdoors. At J&M Air Conditioning & Heating, we see many of our customers turning off their air conditioning systems and opening up windows to enjoy the fresh air. Home owners can easily save on comfort costs during this time as there is no need for air conditioning or heat, simply enjoy the nature’s temperature. However, this time is ideal for pre-winter maintenance. Your air conditioning system needs to be shut down for the winter while your heating unit needs to be prepped for operation. From heat pumps to furnace units, each option needs to be inspected and cleaned for a fully-functioning winter season of operation.

Your HVAC equipment is a precious commodity that keeps you comfortable year round. Let our team of technicians provide a variety of services throughout the year to keep your home as comfortable as possible. Below is as small guide to what we and you can do during the fall season as a measure of pre- winter maintenance.

Prepping Your Air Conditioning System To Be Non-Operational

If you have a single operating air conditioning system, the unit will need to be inspected and cleaned before being turned off for the winter. An inspection by our technicians will ensure your unit is functioning as it should and is ready to be closed down until summer arrives. When you have a portable air conditioning such as a window unit, proper storage is key to the unit continuing to function each and every year. Be sure to store the AC unit in a dry and clean area to prevent any damage to the unit.

Pre-winter Maintenance for your Heating System

Furnace maintenance, central unit services and more can be accessed here at J&M Air Conditioning & Heating. We are well-equipped for your winter needs, offering full inspections of your heating units.

Before the harsh winter arrives, your heating unit needs to be in top condition. With an inspection, our technicians will go over every component. We ensure that your outdoor system as well as indoor portion of the unit are operating correctly. Any lubrication, replacement parts or repairs are conducted as they are come across to keep your unit in proper working order.

Also included in maintenance service is cleaning of the unit. When cleaned, the system will be ready to operate. If you wake up one morning and your home is freezing due to a temperature drop, simply flip the unit to heat and the unit will do the rest. Your home will quickly heat up and provide a comfortable space for you and your family.

What You Can Do?

There are steps that you can take on your own to establish a heating unit that is ready to function. Change out the filter of the unit so you have a clean and fresh filter ready to provide clean air quality in the home. Provide fresh batteries for your thermostat, helping your unit to reach the set temperature with ease. You can also clean out around the outdoor portion of your heating system by removing any debris, leaves or grass that may have grown up over the summer months.

Please feel free to contact our office at J&M Air Conditioning & Heating whenever you are in need of heating or cooling services. We offer a wide range of options, including installation, repairs and maintenance to help you have a comfortable home no matter the temperature outside. Contact us today to learn more about what we can provide for you and your family.