Are These Things Holding You Back from Lowering Your HVAC Costs?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”? Well, when it comes to HVAC system health and efficiently, this is just not the case. Sometimes you may think that the way you are running your HVAC system is increasing efficiency when in reality it is doing just the opposite. Below, we’ll discuss some things that you may be doing that actually hold you back from lowering your HVAC costs.

Common HVAC Mistakes That May be Costing You

No one wants to waste money. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the most common HVAC mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them:

Setting your thermostat to fan-on mode.

Some homeowners may think that setting their thermostat to the “fan-on” position instead of “auto” will make their home more comfortable throughout the day. However, this can actually cause a lot of trouble in your home. When there is humidity in the air, this may cause the perfect breeding ground for mold, especially if you have an oversized AC unit. Not only can mold be costly to remedy, but it can also have a significant impact on your family’s health.

In addition, your energy bills will be higher because you fan is constantly running instead of just turning on when it needs to bring the temperature up or down. Leaving your fan on all of the time can also increase duct leakage, which can then lead to an increase of air leakage across your home. To avoid these issues and the possibility of increased HVAC costs, set your thermostat to “auto,” and allow your cooling system to determine when it needs to run.

Closing or blocking air vents.

Some homeowners are under the assumption that closing air vents in unused rooms will help them save energy and lower their HVAC costs. In reality, closing air vents does just the opposite. When you close air vents in certain rooms, this offsets your home’s airflow, which will cause your HVAC system to work harder than it should to keep your home a comfortable temperature. This decreases efficiency, and ultimately, raises your heating and cooling costs.

Another common HVAC issue that homeowners face is blocking air vents. Air return vents may not be the most attractive element of your home. However, hiding these vents behind furniture or curtains can mess with your air flow and drive your HVAC costs up. If your HVAC system does not get proper airflow, this can decrease efficiency. Homeowners should always keep air vents uncovered and clean to promote an efficient and healthy HVAC system.

Using the most efficient air filter.

Most homeowners want to provide the healthiest home environment for their families. Buying the least expensive air filter may result in poor indoor air quality, so some individuals opt for more efficient air filters with higher MERV ratings. The issue here is that air filters that are extremely efficient are typically very thick and they can cause too much of a drag in air flow. The standard residential HVAC system was not designed to use these types of filters, especially the older units, and using these filters can cause a decrease in overall efficiency as well as additional wear and tear to the unit.

Instead of buying the most efficient air filter possible, do some research and read the HVAC manual to find the right type of air filter for your system. If you are concerned about indoor air quality or have family members with weakened immune systems, contact an HVAC professional to discuss your options for upgrading your air filter.

Looking for more ways to save on HVAC costs? We would love to help! Call us today for more information about our energy-saving HVAC systems and programmable thermostats from Carrier: (951) 663-4895.

Stop Making these HVAC Mistakes in the New Year

The new year is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to start anew. As 2017 approaches, many people are reflecting on the past year and creating their New Year’s Resolutions for 2017. As you start thinking about what you would like the new year to look like, consider your home comfort. Below, we will outline some common HVAC mistakes and how you can stop making these mistakes in the new year.

Most Common HVAC Mistakes

Many homeowners may not realize it, but they are making HVAC mistakes that can end up costing them. Here are a few ways to stop making these HVAC mistakes in the new year:

Mistake #1: Skipping your annual HVAC maintenance appointment.

How to Avoid: It can be easy to forget about your annual HVAC maintenance appointment, especially when your system is running just fine. However, preventative maintenance is important, and it’s one of the best ways to maintain efficiency and prolong the life of your HVAC equipment. The best way to avoid this HVAC mistake is by scheduling your annual maintenance visits ahead of time. Make yourself a reminder on your calendar when your HVAC system is due for maintenance, and be sure to call and schedule an appointment sooner rather than later.

Mistake #2: Ignoring loud noises coming from your HVAC system.

How to Avoid: An HVAC system that is working properly should not be making any loud noises. However, this might be easy to ignore if the system appears to be running fine otherwise. Loud noises coming from your heating and cooling equipment may be a sign that there is a bigger problem with your system. Ignoring this could not only be costly but also dangerous for everyone in your household. If you notice loud noises coming from your unit, call your HVAC technician at the first sign of trouble. He or she will inspect your unit and make repairs before the problem gets any bigger.

Mistake #3: Failing to change your air filter regularly.

How to Avoid: Most homeowners know that they need to change their air filter. But knowing you need to do something and actually doing it are two very different things. In order to keep yourself on track with air filter changes. Check your air filter at the same time every month, and clean or replace the filter if it is clogged or dirty. If you are forgetful, you may want to make a reminder on your calendar each month, so that you don’t forget to check and change your air filter. This will improve both your efficiency and indoor air quality so that you and your family can breathe healthy air.

If you have any questions about your HVAC system or think you may need a repair, give us a call today: (951) 663-4895. Our team would be happy to help you get your heating and cooling system back up and running in no time.

Top Helpful HVAC Videos Online

Every home owner can use some extra advice when it comes to HVAC. And, even though many common DIY videos on HVAC can be more harmful than helpful due to concerns about safety, these videos explain easy tasks that you can do without any risk. From changing your HVAC system’s air filter to choosing houseplants to reduce air pollution, check out this helpful list of videos and increase your HVAC knowledge today!

How to Change Your HVAC Air Filter: https://youtu.be/1fcmJ_OYF1o

This simple task can get a little bit confusing if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Take a look at this great tutorial to find out the proper way to change your home HVAC system’s air filter, and rest easy that you’re doing it correctly.

How to Clean Your Home’s Air Vents: https://youtu.be/2X_7ydLf6ZI

This instructional video will show you a clever way to deep clean those air vents in your home, which may be trapping dust, dirt, and other debris. By cleaning out your vents, you’ll improve not only the functioning of your HVAC system, but the air quality in your home as well. Any debris that may be trapped within your vents will circulate throughout your ducts, and ultimately throughout your home’s air when your system clicks on. By keeping your vents clean, you’ll enjoy cleaner air in your home! Check out this helpful video to see how it’s done.

DIY Troubleshooting Your Thermostat: https://youtu.be/rWm3Ia9xoc8

This helpful video will show you how to do a simple check to test whether or not your thermostat is properly working or not. This is a quick DIY tip that will help you to find out if it’s your thermostat causing issues with your home’s HVAC, or if there’s another cause for concern, such as a faulty unit.

How To Winterize Your AC Unit: https://youtu.be/Hor3I1xO0EU

When temperatures drop, you don’t only need to stop running your air conditioner, but you should also be mindful of making sure that it’s ready to face inclement weather. This educational video will show you how to properly winterize your home’s AC unit, which will help keep it safe and sound until you’re ready to turn it on during the warmer seasons.

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality: https://youtu.be/K5mp4tkd8qU

Did you know that people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors? With this in mind, air quality is an extremely important concern for individuals, particularly for homeowners who would like to have a healthy place to call home. There are many factors that will affect the quality of indoor air, and this incredibly useful video explains it all.

How to Improve Indoor Air Pollution with Houseplants: https://youtu.be/HdOibycDIA4

Speaking of Indoor Air Quality, did you know that houseplants can be beneficial to your home’s air quality? That’s right, houseplants aren’t just decorative, they are beneficial for your home’s air as well. This video explains all about houseplants’ impact on the quality of your indoor air and which plants are most beneficial for your home environment.

Can’t find a video to help solve your HVAC problem? Contact us today for help with any repair or maintenance needs.

5 Carrier Products that Homeowners Need to Know About

Looking for a new HVAC system for your home or commercial building may leave you with your head spinning. With so many options, where do you start?

At J & M Air Conditioning and Heating, we recommend Carrier HVAC systems and products to all of our customers. This is because we know that your home comfort is important to you and your family. Carrier is a world leader in air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration solutions. Their air conditioning and heating systems and products work to keep your family comfortable year-round. Below, we’ll guide you through some of the top Carrier products all homeowners should know about.

Carrier Products You Should Know About

Here are 5 of our favorite Carrier home comfort solutions that we just can’t wait to tell you about:

Infinity® Series Air Conditioners

When it comes to air conditioning, the Infinity Series from Carrier is the best it gets. These units are some of the quietest, most efficient models made by Carrier. Air conditioners in this series were designed for optimal home comfort. In addition to offering a SEER rating of up to 21, these units also allow for the best comfort management with the Infinity® control system.

Infinity® Series Heat Pump with Greenspeed™ Intelligence

The Infinity® 20 Heat Pump with Greenspeed™ Intelligence has won the Consumers Digest Best Buy Award. However, what’s even more impressive is how this system can transform your home comfort. With Greenspeed™ Intelligence, this product adapts to the comfort needs of your home, helping you conserve energy while optimizing comfort levels. The system also operates quietly and allows for maximum temperature management. Overall, this heat pump gives you ultimate control over home comfort.

Performance™ Series Air Purifier

If you’re looking for an affordable air purifying system, the Performance Series Air Purifier is right for you. Using Captures & Kills™ technology, this IAQ product works to improve your indoor air quality by filtering out pollutants, pathogens, and allergens that enter your home. As a result, your family can enjoy cleaner and healthier indoor air year-round.

Performance™ Series Germicidal UV Lamps

This is another indoor air quality product from Carrier that helps you and your family breathe easier. These germicidal UV lamps kill the mold, bacteria, and other organisms that can start to grow on your AC’s indoor coil. By eliminating these organisms, the germicidal UV lamps improve the quality of your home’s air and help improve your HVAC system’s performance.

Infinity® Remote Access Touch Control

The Infinity Remote Access Touch Control allows homeowners to have better control over their home comfort. This control acts as a central panel for total home comfort management, allowing users to monitor and adjust temperatures, humidity, ventilation, air flow, and indoor air quality. This particular model allows homeowners to control their home comfort from almost anywhere through remote access over Wi-Fi.

Are you interested in any of these Carrier products? Contact us to find out how to purchase and install these HVAC products in your home today.

What is a HEPA Filter, and Do I Need One?

 

Sometimes when we hear the words “air pollution,” we tend to think about smog or other outdoor pollutants, but the truth is dust, dirt, and other harmful contaminants can make their way into your home every day. One of the best ways to prevent pollution from circulating in the air in your home is purchasing a quality air filter and replacing it regularly.

You may have heard of the HEPA filter, but is it right for you? Below, we’ll talk about what a HEPA filter is and how they can help improve indoor air quality as well as the benefits of regularly changing your filter.

What is a HEPA filter?

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. HEPA filters are used in medical facilities, vehicles, and homes, and they work by filtering forced air through a fine mesh. The filter helps trap harmful pollutants such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and tobacco smoke before they circulate throughout the area. In order to qualify as a HEPA filter under U.S. government standards, filters are required to remove 99.97% of particles from the air that passes through.

Do I need a HEPA filter?

For many, a standard air filter offers enough filtration to improve the indoor air quality of the home without needing anything more. However, those who suffer from severe allergies or asthma may benefit from a stronger filter. Households with individuals who may have trouble breathing can benefit from an air purifier device that uses a HEPA filter .

Though HEPA filters are great for removing nearly all toxic microorganisms from the air, most residential HVAC systems are not made for the standard in-duct HEPA filter. HEPA filters require powerful air volume to overcome the air restrictions from the thick filters. That being said, there are a variety of indoor air quality upgrade options for homeowners that want to provide cleaner and healthier air in their homes, including stand-alone air purifying units.

Why Changing Your Air Filters is Important

No matter what type of air filter you decide to get for your home, it is important that you replace or clean your filter regularly to ensure that it is filtering your air properly and not preventing your HVAC system from running optimally. When your air filter is dirty or clogged, it can cause your HVAC system to work harder than it needs to in order to heat and cool your home. This causes wear and tear to your system and can send your energy bills through the roof.

If you have any questions about your air filter options or which choice is right for you, contact the HVAC experts at J & M Air Conditioning and Heating. We are ready to help you find the best options for improving your indoor air quality.

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.

How UV Lights Battle Contagions and Infections in Hospitals & Your Home

People who pay attention to the news have probably heard about the increasing number of medicine-resistant strains of diseases that are developing. Doctors and medical researchers are constantly trying to find ways to slow or stop the development and spread of such disease strains.

UV Lights for Airborne Disease

One thing hospitals are beginning to use to stop the spread of contagions is UV light. UV lights kill nearly all types of infectious agents in the air, and can be used just about anywhere. Some people have even begun using them in their homes as a measure against infectious diseases.

UV Lights In Hospitals

While hospitals are the places people go to have injuries healed and illnesses cured, they are also places where many people acquire sicknesses. The term “nosocomial infection” specifically refers to an infection a person acquires at the hospital.

Person-to-person contact, injection or insertion of contaminated medical devices, the inhalation of airborne particles, and contact with airborne infectious agents spread nosocomial infections.

The true viability for airborne transmission of serious diseases has long been challenged, but recent studies have shown there is evidence for cases of Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), one of the most common hospital-acquired infections, spreading by airborne vectors. This led to hospitals developing methods of fighting airborne infections, such as the installation of more UV lights.

Three types of UV light systems are used in hospitals – upper air/room systems, coil irradiation, and airstream disinfection. Both coil irradiation and airstream disinfection UV systems are installed as part of the hospital’s HVAC system. These systems kill pathogens in the air as they flow through ductwork. These systems are also installed around the air filters in the HVAC system to prevent the buildup of mold or pathogens in these damper areas.

Upper air or upper room UV systems can be installed in any room in a hospital and are commonly used in patient’s rooms, waiting rooms, lobbies, and other areas that are known to be microbial hotspots. These UV lights operate 24 hours a day, providing constant reduction to airborne pathogens.

UV Lights In Homes

The air filter in your HVAC system at home is perfect for catching the majority of allergens and airborne particulates. However, some infectious agents, known as bioaerosols, can pass through even HEPA filters and circulate throughout the house.

To improve air quality and reduce the potential for infectious agents surviving in your home, an HVAC technician can install UV lights in your ductwork that will kill most, if not all, airborne pathogens. These UV lights function as part of the HVAC system, purifying the air that passes through it several times every day.

UV lights kill airborne infectious agents without releasing any chemicals into the air, making them perfect for people who are concerned with the possibility of harmful carcinogens.

New advances in UV light technology and integrating them into HVAC systems are making them very energy-efficient. In fact, installing a UV light as part of the system can prevent bacterial growth and maintain the system efficiently, reducing electricity costs.

 

If you would like to talk to an HVAC professional about installing UV lights in your HVAC system, get in contact with J&M AC and Heating.

Why You Shouldn’t Close Vents in Unused Rooms

One common misconception that homeowners have is that closing vents in unused rooms will save money. Not only is that totally incorrect, it can actually cause damage to your HVAC system.

Close the Vents, Open Your Wallet

The belief that closing the vents will save you money by making the air conditioner or heater work less is wholly false. It will not cause your air conditioner to work any less. Your heating and air conditioning system is designed to move a specific amount of air against a specific amount of pressure.

When you close a vent it causes the system to have to work harder. A good way to imagine this is by installing a blockage on your car’s exhaust. The engine still has to move the same amount of air, only now it has to do it through a restriction, causing it to have to work harder.

By closing vents you will increase the pressure in the air ducts, which in turn causes more leakage through the gaps in the ductwork. That air that leaks out is decreasing the efficiency of the system since it’s not making its way into your home and heating or cooling it, costing you more money

And depending on the type of blower you have on your HVAC unit, closing vents will have different effects on it. None of them are good and all of them cause the blower to work harder, which means spending more money.

So don’t close those vents!

How Closing Vents Can Damage Your HVAC System

Now we know that closing vents doesn’t save money, let’s take a look at how it can actually hurt your HVAC system.

If you have a permanent split capacitor blower motor, which is the most common type, closing the vents will cause the blower to slow down. By slowing down there won’t be as much air flowing over the evaporator coil, which is the part of your AC system responsible for cooling the air. That can be very problematic because it needs a certain amount of air to flow over it to ‘give up’ that cold to. When it doesn’t have enough it can star to ice over.

At that point, a dangerous cycle starts to occur. That ice further restricts the airflow, causing more ice to form. This can get so bad that liquid refrigerant can flow back into the compressor destroying it.

It’s not limited to just the air conditioning cycle, however. Your furnace can also be damaged by closing vents. Low airflow over the heat exchanger can easily cause it to overheat and crack.

And to top off all this bad news – your warranty may not cover these parts, or be entirely voided by closing the vents.

So remember, closing vents in your home does not save you any money and can cause major damage to your HVAC system. For more HVAC system tips and information follow the J&M Air Conditioning & Heating blog.

Average Heating Costs of Gas, Oil, & Electricity

Most heating methods in the US fall into one of three energy sources: gas, oil, and electricity. Each of these methods are capable of providing reliable heat for a home but each have their own costs, which can vary greatly.

Calculating Heating Costs

In order to provide helpful figures for these three methods the number of variables has to be controlled. The figures will be calculated for an average size home, in a climate that experiences cold winters but far from sub-artic, with normal insulation levels, type, and ratings. We will also be using average efficiencies for the equipment providing the heat. In this way, useable figures with easily adjustable variables will be provided.

It will take about 60,000,000 BTUs of energy per year to heat this average-sized home, in a continental climate, with normal levels of insulation, and average equipment efficiencies.

Gas – $1.10/100,000 BTU or $735 per year

Gas heating is a fairly inexpensive method of heating both in operational and equipment costs. The furnaces start out at around 90% efficiency and top out around 97% efficiency. The combination of low fuel cost and high efficiency gives an affordable operating cost per year.

Oil – $2.50/100,000 BTU or $1,758 per year

The reason for the high costs here in relation to the other methods is that oil furnaces tend not to be that efficient in their operation and the expense of the cost of the fuel. It wasn’t long ago that they averaged around 70%. Currently they will run between 80-85%, a marginal improvement in marginal efficiencies.

Electricity – $2.93/100,000 BTU or $703 – $1,875 per year

The reason for the wild range in the operational costs of electricity is the methods of heating using electricity. The two main methods of heating with electricity are electric-resistance and heat pumps. The former having about 100% efficiency and the later going all the way up to 300% efficiency for ductless heat pumps.

Hopefully these ballpark figures give you a better idea of the costs involved in heating your home. To stay up to date on all the latest HVAC info follow the J&M Air Conditioning & Heating blog.

Humidifiers Can Help Relieve Allergy Symptoms

Humidifiers are electrically powered devices that increase humidity in the air. Humidity is airborne water vapor, which can aid in alleviating certain allergies like allergic rhinitis. Dry air can increase allergy symptoms, and humidifiers can make the air more breathable.

How Humidifiers Work

To use a humidifier, you’ll pour water into a container that sits inside the humidifier. Once the container has been filled, you plug the humidifier in and then turn it on. A diffuser or heater works to break up the water into steam or small particles, and the water vapor is then released into the air. For larger buildings, you may want to use a “whole-house” humidifier that dispels water vapor into the entire building. Some buildings that use these types of humidifiers are condos, offices and medical buildings.

How Humidifiers Help With Allergies

Humidifiers can help those with a variety of allergies, including allergic rhinitis. This type of allergy manifests through nasal congestion, nasal irritation and inflammation of the nasal mucosa. The humid air can help expel potential allergens and irritants from your nasal cavity and can reduce inflammation from nasal tissues. Humidifiers can also help alleviate discomfort from drug treatment side effects and skin issues like eczema.

Types of Humidifiers

  • Point-of-use humidifier—these humidifiers are portable and have a refillable water tank, and they can humidify the air in one or more rooms.
  • Evaporative humidifier—Also called a cool mist humidifier, the evaporator humidifier uses a wick, filter and reservoir to distribute water vapor at room temperature through the air. Some models allow for programming, and some have a hygrometer that can help maintain an optimal humidity level. Filters must be changed regularly to avoid mineral saturation and mold overgrowth.
  • Vaporizers—These humidifiers produce steam. They are effective but use more energy compared with an evaporative humidifier.
  • Ultrasonic and impeller humidifiers—These models sometimes deposit minerals on any furniture that is in close proximity, because they don’t have a filter that would otherwise remove the minerals. The deposit looks like a fine dust.

Improving indoor air quality helps allergy sufferers experience relief from their chronic symptoms. We sell and install Carrier humidifiers, as well as other Carrier IAQ products, to our valued customers. Contact J&M Air Conditioning and Heating to learn more about how our humidifiers can benefit you and your loved ones.