Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Save, Save, Save…

Who doesn’t want to save these days? I want to save time, money, energy and anything else I can think of. There is just not enough of anything these days to be wasteful or maybe as I have gotten older, I just care more about saving money and being efficient with regards to time. I need the things around me to work promptly and properly. I just don’t have time for my computer to have issues, my oven not to turn on or my toilet to back up. That being said, I really do not have the time to wait for my furnace to die before replacing it with another one. It’s one thing for my computer or toilet to have problems – those things I can work around. It is a whole other ball game for my heat not to work and my home to be cold. Read why “Wait and See Doesn’t Really Work” so that you are not left out in the cold and can save your time, money and energy costs today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New vs. Old

In a war of new vs. old, who wins? I guess it would depend on what we were referring to. I personally think “old” music is better than the “new” stuff that is called music now. Between old and new cars… that’s a tossup for me; I like features from both. Old dog vs. new dog… I’ll take my old dog, thank you very much. But, when talking about an old vs. new heating system, it’s new that wins hands down every time. The old ones just cannot compete. They use more energy to produce the same amount of heat as the new ones which means they cost us more money just to run them. They can give out at any moment and then what are you left with – a cold home and a big bill. But don’t take my word for it. Read “Hey, I’m freezing in here. Is the furnace even working?” and find out why a new heating system is the way to go this winter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Where Does It Go?

There are many times I wonder about where my money is going. Of course, I know where the biggest chunks go with a mortgage to pay, utilities, groceries, etc., but the other place my money goes is to repair various things around the house that break. I particularly loathe spending money on plumbing repairs, but there is no way around it; if your plumbing doesn’t work, you have to fix it. I am sure I feel the same as most other people. I just want things to work as they should. I don’t really want to spend time and money repairing things – I want them not to break in the first place. With that being said, I would much rather spend money having an item serviced or repaired than to have to replace the whole thing. That’s when the big bucks really fly out of the window. It can be hard though, especially in this economy to spend money servicing something that is not (as far as you can see) broken. Maybe if our home comfort systems had an “I need servicing” light like our cars have a “change oil” light, it would be easier. Especially if it buzzed or dinged until we had it serviced. My car is relentless about reminding me until the oil is changed. It is not good for your furnace to be turned on each year without being serviced. In fact, it could be dangerous. Just as driving around in a car without ever changing its oil is dangerous and very damaging to your car. For more information on what to do for your home comfort system, read “What’s Good for Me Is Good for You.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Maintenance Issue

It is common knowledge that we must take care of things in order for them to work the way they were designed. If we don’t change the oil in our cars, bad things will happen. But isn’t it still a bit annoying when the “change oil” light comes on? Now you will have to find time in your already busy day to spend at least 30 minutes having your car serviced, all so that you can continue to drive it without any problems. I will admit this is a tri-monthly experience I don’t enjoy and wish there was some kind of reward to be had for keeping up with all those oil changes. Don’t get me wrong, I know the real “reward” is the money I am saving by keeping it maintained as opposed to “letting it go” and then having to spend a ton in repairs. We all know this to be true when it comes to cars, but we turn a blind eye to the same logic when it comes to our home comfort systems. We continue to use our home comfort system year after year, even after it has spent months being unused and we don’t want to spend the money to have it serviced so it will run safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, not applying the same maintenance logic we use with our cars to our home comfort system is costing us more money in the long run. Read “The Easiest Way to Save Money I’ve Ever Seen… is about to end” to learn more about maintaining your home comfort system and all the many rewards that go along with it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Cost of Efficiency

We are fortunate to live in a time where everything is becoming more efficient. While that is a wonderful thing, it does not come without a price tag. Even light bulbs are more efficient. Yes, high efficiency light bulbs will last 10 times longer than your regular light bulbs, but they are not inexpensive. In regards to the high efficiency light bulb, it will cost you more money upfront to purchase it, but it does save you money both in energy costs and in the frequency with which it has to be replaced. So while more expensive, it does work out in your favor. This can be something that is hard to understand. We are much more prone to want a good deal upfront, or to pay the least amount of money for something out of pocket, than to focus on what it saves us on our utility bills. The same is true for our home comfort systems. A new high-efficiency unit will save you a lot of money on energy costs, but the upfront cost can be intimidating. Read “I’d Like to Pay You $470 Cash Trade-In for Your Old Energy-Wasting Furnace” to learn how you can save money upfront (the way we like to save money) by replacing your unit and getting the benefit of saving money on your energy costs as well.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Dirty Secret…

Everybody likes to feel “in the know,” whether it is about sports, politics or neighborhood gossip, but do you know the No. 1 reason your home comfort system fails? It is not age, or brand, or even storm damage… it is Dirt. That’s right; your unit’s biggest problem is dirt. This little secret is not widely known, because let’s face it. Why encourage you to spend a little each year on regular maintenance to keep your unit running longer when you will spend thousands of dollars replacing it? When your system is not in use, there is nothing to prevent dirt from building up. Then when you turn your unit on for the first time, all of that dirt is stirred up and some is blown through your vents. How to get rid of it… The best thing to do is to have a trained, licensed professional service your home comfort system before you turn it on. Not only will a tune-up remove dirt from your system, but it will also help reduce other airborne allergens that circulate through your vents and into your home. A trained professional will ensure your unit will run safely and efficiently all winter long saving you money on energy costs. Now that you know our industry’s dirty little secret and how to correct it, click to schedule your tune-up. You can extend your system’s life – and cut your energy costs. It’s a win-win.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Are We Too Busy to Care?

Ever see trash on the road, in the lake, floating down streams and feel sad? What are we so busy doing that we cannot make sure our trash gets into a trash can and then on to the appropriate places? I am not suggesting we all suddenly transform into “Save the Planet” activists. But, really, there is probably more we could be doing to help preserve what we have even from the comforts of our very own homes. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something we could do to help save us money while also helping to protect the planet? Well, there is one very important thing we can do and that is to have our home cooling systems serviced each and every year so they are running efficiently and not using unnecessary energy which, in turn, means we are paying more money to use them than we should. Read “Just Living or Really Helping” to help you discover more ways to save money on your energy bills (while still using your air conditioner) + get the added bonus of how you can help out Earth.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Go Green or Go Home

Well, no, not exactly. It may be more like “go green or we may not have a home.” But sometimes it can seem as if doing all the things that could help make the Earth cleaner, healthier and all around better would just be too time-consuming and bothersome to actually do. It is great when we can find something that benefits both us and the planet! Since feeling cool and comfortable in the summer months is important, the best place to start combining helping yourself with helping the planet would be with your home cooling system. Keeping your system maintained year after year helps both you and Mother Earth. It cuts down on your energy cost because your system will not have to work so hard to keep you cool and upgrading to a new “High Efficiency” system can save you even more money in the long run. For more information on how you can save money and energy and do your part to help the planet, read “A World of Hurt…”. It is never too late to start helping yourself while benefiting the planet we live on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Boy, Does It Feel Good Outside!

You can’t beat this weather! It feels too good outside to not be anything but happy and thankful for such a pleasant Summer. It did get me thinking, though. How can we take advantage of these cool temps? What can we do to save money on our energy bills? A good place to start is to get rid of any “energy vampires” you may have in your home. These are TVs, lamps, appliances and whatever else you leave plugged in all the time, but rarely use. They are using energy and costing you money even though you are not actively using them. So, put your TVs on a power strip and turn them off when you are not at home and while you are sleeping. Also, unplug lamps and kitchen appliances that you don’t use on a regular basis. While this is valuable information that everyone should take advantage of, you should also find out how to save energy and money on your home’s biggest energy burner – your air conditioner. There are “high-efficiency” air conditioners that can save you between 24-40% on your usual utilities. That is definitely worth investigating! For more information on lowering your energy consumption and putting more money in your wallet, take a look at this info, The Definition of Insanity.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

We have become somewhat accustomed to the notion that “Bigger is Better.” Whether we are at a drive-thru where you can “super size” for a better “value” than a regular meal or driving the bigger truck or SUV so you can see over the other cars, we like things BIG. A big fish is better than a small fish. A big boat is better than a small boat. And so on… you get the idea. Surprisingly though, bigger isn’t always better when talking about a new “high efficiency” cooling system. If you bought a new air conditioner today, it will probably be smaller than the one you bought 10 to 15 years ago. Just replacing your old A/C with a new one the same size could cause you trouble down the road because it will be too big to meet your needs. This is, of course, assuming you have the appropriately sized air conditioner for your home now. A cooling system too big for your home will cause frequent on-and-off cycling which will affect the humidity control in your home. Poor humidity control can lead to moisture in the air which, in turn, will lead to mold and mildew, not to mention, humid air that is just plain uncomfortable. It is hard to imagine there is a service industry these days that is saying, “Not so fast… a bigger cooling system may NOT be what your home needs. You may need just a smaller, more efficient system to have your home feeling cool and save you money on energy costs.” To learn more about “high efficiency” cooling systems and ways to take advantage of this wonderful weather we’ve been enjoying, read How a Really Cool Summer Can Put $3120 of Savings in Your Pocket.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Clearing Out & Cleaning Up

It hits everyone around this time of year that things have accumulated, piled up, been neglected and generally overlooked. The warm weather inspires us to wipe away the cobwebs that formed in the previous months and get our homes ready to fully enjoy during the long summer days. Clearing out winter and spring growth and grime and de-cluttering your rooms and outdoors so you can enjoy your living spaces just makes you feel good. A lot of homeowners even have their pressure washers out and are cleaning off their concrete and siding. This is also the perfect time to have your home’s cooling system cleaned and serviced. Think about it. You have not turned your air conditioner on since last year and it has just been sitting there, outside, in all the winter weather and muck. Just sitting there accumulating dirt and dust and parts rusting and getting loose. It seems a little absurd to wash away dirt from your driveway and walkways, but not clean the unit that is blowing air into your home. No one expects a car that has been sitting for months, unused, to crank right up and run efficiently, but that is exactly what we think should happen every year with our home cooling system. In order to really get our homes running efficiently during these long, hot days of summer, we need to have a professional service our air conditioning system. To learn more about what routine maintenance your system needs, read A Little TLC Goes a Long Way.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Common Sense

There are many things we do each and every day to keep our body and minds working efficiently. We eat, drink, brush our teeth, comb our hair, exercise, take our vitamins (if we remember)… and so on. We do these things because if we don’t, we know we cannot function properly. If we do not take care of our teeth, they will fall out. Without teeth, we are extremely limited in what we can eat. If we cannot eat, we certainly cannot function the way we were made to. We know this about our bodies, and we also know to apply this same concept about other things we use on a daily basis. If we don’t take care of things properly, they will not work properly, but when it comes to our homes’ cooling systems, we act as if this logic doesn’t apply. If they’re simply ignored year after year (unless there is a problem), they are not working efficiently and it is costing you money on your energy bills. It could also be affecting the air you are breathing inside your home. To take care of your air conditioning system so it performs effectively and efficiently (and, of course, safely), you should have it serviced before each season of high use. If you missed your Spring Maintenance, it’s important to get this taken care of. The heat of Summer is here and your system will be working overtime to keep you comfortable. It is just common sense to take care of the things you depend on, including your valuable home cooling system. Reading “Don’t Be Fuelish” can help you see more energy savings and lower utility bills this Summer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Stewart Heating & Air Blog: How a 1987 Treaty Changed Air Conditioning in 2010...

The Stewart Heating & Air Blog: How a 1987 Treaty Changed Air Conditioning in 2010...: Ever heard of the Montreal Protocol? Like many things that happen among and between nations, even if you haven’t heard of it, we’re talking ...

How a 1987 Treaty Changed Air Conditioning in 2010

Ever heard of the Montreal Protocol? Like many things that happen among and between nations, even if you haven’t heard of it, we’re talking about an event that could affect your life – or, in this case, your home comfort. Offered up in 1987 for nations to sign and adopt, the Montreal Protocol was an international treaty that focused on a concern for how chemicals and other things in the atmosphere were depleting the ozone layer that was protecting life as we know it on earth. The treaty was amended in 1992 to set a timetable for phasing out chemicals known as HCFCs – which includes in this list a refrigerant that has been used in air conditioning systems since the early ‘70s. Now, fast forward to today and what this means in practical terms for you: Air conditioners manufactured after 2010 can no longer use the refrigerant R-22 (also known by the brand name Freon) as the coolant of choice. While this refrigerant can still be produced and used to service existing equipment for the time being, in 2020, the production and import of R-22 will end, and it will only be available through recycled and reclaimed processes. That means simply this: any air conditioning that uses R-22 is looking at a time limit. As you face repairs with any pre-2010 system, we’ll be glad to talk with you about the best ways to extend the life of the equipment (hint: regular maintenance!), and when the time is right for replacement, we’ll give you our best guidance there too. In the meantime, to learn more about what’s going on, take a look at this info, What Every Homeowner Should Know: Government to Take A/C Refrigerant Off Market.

Friday, May 1, 2015

U.S. Government Breaks Your A/C System

Most of us probably don’t think about the ozone day in, day out. But some folks do. And the groups and agencies who keep a close eye on environmental concerns have prompted some actions in recent years that will ultimately affect the operation of central air conditioners across this country. The issue is the refrigerant, R-22, also known as Freon, which has been the predominant refrigerant used in air conditioners for the last 40 years. The federal government has begun a phase-out of equipment that uses this refrigerant because of concerns about ozone depletion. So, as of 2010, no new R-22-based equipment has been manufactured. Sure, the pre-2010 systems can still be operated and repaired, but you’ll still be looking at some logical limits. The R-22 refrigerant can’t be produced or imported after 2020 (only recycled), and the reality is that will affect the cost and availability of this replacement refrigerant as well as the availability of replacement parts for equipment that is no longer being manufactured. To learn more about this issue and how it could affect you, take a look at this info, Why Did the Government Secretly “Break” Your Home Comfort System?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Stewart Heating & Air Blog: The Once-a-Year Step for Everyday Comfort

The Stewart Heating & Air Blog: The Once-a-Year Step for Everyday Comfort: You’ve probably heard of Poor Richard’s Almanac even if you have never read it. This was a work by Ben Franklin back when the country was yo...

The Once-a-Year Step for Everyday Comfort

You’ve probably heard of Poor Richard’s Almanac even if you have never read it. This was a work by Ben Franklin back when the country was young, and it had a calendar, weather predictions and some wise sayings. Well, if Ben Franklin were writing weather predictions for Contra Costa County, he’d say, “It’s going to be hot this summer.” Seems to me, it happens every year around that time, and this year, we’ll be true to the calendar again. Yet, if only Franklin had had central air conditioning, I think he could have added some updated helpful advice like this: “If you want something to last, you take care of it. If you want something to do its job, you make sure it’s running well. If you want something to protect you in the night, you make sure it doesn’t have any hidden dangers.” Why do I think that? Because here’s what Franklin actually did say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, and we all know it’s true. So what ounce of prevention can you bring to your home comfort this spring? One simple step of a preseason checkup on your system can make a world of difference in your comfort all summer long. To learn more about the value of routine maintenance, take a look at this info, The Nutty Way to Solve a Problem Before It Happens.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Nutty Secret I Actually Didn’t Want You to Know

I never was good at keeping secrets, especially from my customers. After all, I went into this business to help people – to keep you comfortable, to save you energy, to prevent the need for future repairs … good ambitions like that. Oh, that’s still my goal alright. But that means letting you in on a nutty secret that could have brought us a lot more repairs, plus equipment that declined sooner than it needed to. In a sense, that might have been “good” for us, but not really. Instead, here’s what we found is a much better way to be a positive influence in our customers’ lives: we help customers avoid future repairs, inconvenient breakdowns and wasted energy by educating them on the importance of regular tune-ups. We’ve got it on high authority that this is a really good idea and hope you’ll see the merit in taking care of a pretty sizeable investment for your home – so that it will take care of you. Need any more convincing? Take a look at this info, The Nutty Declaration That Can Help You Save.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Time to Dust Off a Few Energy Saving Ideas

Have you ever considered how much the dust that’s gathering in your home is costing you in energy bills? When dust builds up on the registers and vent covers in your home, for example, it becomes “insulation” that blocks the air’s path into the room. The harder a system has to work to keep your home comfortable, the more you pay in utility costs. So as you look ahead, a thorough dusting with special attention to registers and vent covers is a good idea. Other ideas?  Close drapes to keep out the hot daytime sun, especially on south- and west-facing windows. Sunny windows make air conditioners work 2 to 3 times harder.  Close fireplace dampers or glass doors. Going up the chimney with a bound may serve as a dramatic exit for Santa, but don’t allow your cooled air to use that same escape hatch.  Position your refrigerator away from sunny windows, hot water heaters, warm air from heating ducts, radiators, stoves and other heat sources. The heat makes cooling harder for your refrigerator. These are just a few natural, free ways to help reduce your energy costs and increase your comfort. Other small steps can also make a big difference. For example: It’s no news that energy costs are a big expense for homeowners. And not surprisingly, heating and cooling account for more than half of this amount. If you’d like to learn more about conserving energy in your home, this info will get you started – Is Your Home at the Center of an Energy-Loss Vortex?.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Is Your Home At the Center of An Energy Loss Vortex?

That’s not quite as far-fetched as it seems. See, your home comfort system worked very hard to keep you cozy all Winter. Now with Summer around the corner, you sure don’t want system wear and tear to create a black hole in your wallet. I think we all know how expensive space programs can be! This might sound funny to say but right about now, we usually hear an increase in complaints. Oh, I probably wouldn’t be telling you this if these complaints are about us (they’re not!). What I mean is, right about now, we start hearing complaints about high energy bills. Now, it’s not like we’re physicists. Yet, we actually can have an impact on the energy costs in your home. When operating properly, your home comfort system will work more efficiently and save energy – which can mean lower monthly energy bills. That’s why each spring, we get calls for system tune-ups that effectively increase the efficiency of home systems – and help prevent untimely breakdowns of your home comfort system. Hope we’ll be heading to your home soon. If you didn’t have us out last year, you may not realize how much better your system could have been protecting your personal comfort, your energy bills … and more. But don’t make that mistake this year. Learn more about how proper equipment operation affects energy costs. Take a look at this info, Attention: Seasonal Energy Alert.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Questions You’d Like to Ask Your Furnace

Do you ever get the feeling that your old furnace has a mind of its own? Sometimes it probably seems that way. These older models do appear to get more and more stubborn over time – not unlike the rest of us! It’s as if all you’re asking is, “Can we have a little heat?” And they say, “Wait and see.” Worse, they refuse to do what you ask, which is simply, “Will you keep me warm this winter and save on my energy bills?” As your household systems age, how they answer these questions become less and less of a sure thing. In many cases, you can count on more and more unwelcome repairs, plus a larger use of energy. When you add it all up, oftentimes a replacement makes the most sense for your budget as well as your comfort. If you’re in that decision-making mode about your new furnace, this free report, Making the Case When Your Furnace Doesn’t Make the Grade, tells you what to look for when it’s time to replace. Read and learn more.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Stewart Heating & Air Blog: If Only You Had a Crystal Ball

The Stewart Heating & Air Blog: If Only You Had a Crystal Ball: “Didn’t see that one coming.” Famous words said “after the fact,” and often with sarcasm. While we may say things like “If only I had a crys...

If Only You Had a Crystal Ball

“Didn’t see that one coming.” Famous words said “after the fact,” and often with sarcasm. While we may say things like “If only I had a crystal ball,” the truth is, paying attention to patterns can give you a good sense of what’s ahead. For example, as you get to know people, you can sort of predict how they’ll react to work stress, social situations or even their team losing a big game. You just know what to expect because you’ve seen their reactions before. Same goes for things in and around your home. For example, let’s say you have a car that periodically breaks down at inopportune times. If you’re looking at driving it across the country – well, you can just expect that you’re going to have trouble along the way. So what would you say about your heating system? What does the crystal ball – or, more appropriately, the patterns – tell you about when to plan for a breakdown? Not sure? Well, check out this info for when, exactly, you can expect the unexpected.