The holiday season officially begins month. It is a time for joy, celebrations, and spending time with your family and friends; however, it's also a time when homes' energy consumption tends to spike, leading to higher utility bills. The last thing you should have worry about during this season of thankfulness and togetherness, is how much your HVAC system usage is going to cost you. Are there some HVAC upgrades you can and should make to lower your holiday bills? Below we review some effective HVAC upgrades that can help you lower your holiday bills and make your home more energy efficient in the process.
HVAC Upgrades to Lower Your Holiday Bills
During the holiday season, as more people are in and out of the home, the North Bay Area outside temperatures start to drop, and you are looking for an extra cozy indoor environment, energy costs can rise significantly. The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of this going to heating and cooling costs (EnergyStar). As we approach Thanksgiving, we enter into the time of the year where more and more energy is being consumed, meaning your costs go up.
If you want to feel extra grateful this holiday season, making some HVAC upgrades to lower your holiday bills, may be just what you need to take things to the next level. We have reviewed before how an energy efficient HVAC system can save you money, but did you also know that with the right HVAC improvements, you can ensure a cozy and energy efficient holiday season while keeping your energy bills in check?
Here are some HVAC upgrades you can make to lower your energy costs this season.
This holiday season, by making some HVAC upgrades, you can lower your holiday bills, while enjoying a comfortable and cozy home. When it comes to your home’s heating system, the team at Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is here for you. We have duct cleaning services, offer heating tune-ups, are experts in heating repair, have HVAC maintenance plans, and can install a new energy efficient HVAC system for you. We are your team for all of your heating needs in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties.
The leaves will start falling soon, is HVAC maintenance calling? When it comes to your Marin, Sonoma, or Napa County cooling and heating system, the majority of problems homeowners face are caused by a lack of maintenance. There are things you can do to prepare your furnace for the fall, with one of the main things being for you to have an annual heating tune-up. While you may only use your furnace for a short time each year, regular system inspections and maintenance are crucial to ensuring your comfort come fall and winter. We are going to review some of the benefits of a fall HVAC tune-up.
What is a HVAC Tune-up?
Before we get into the benefits of a fall HVAC tune-up, we wanted to first touch on what exactly it is. HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and a HVAC tune-up is a preventative maintenance service performed on your heating and cooling system. It involves a thorough inspection and cleaning of various components of the system to ensure it is running efficiently and effectively.
During a HVAC tune-up, a licensed cooling and heating technician will inspect and clean the system's air filters, coils, blower motor, and other components. They will also check the system's refrigerant levels, thermostat, electrical connections, lubricate parts, check belts and fans, and overall system performance. Any issues or potential problems that are identified during the tune-up will be addressed and repaired to prevent larger, more costly problems down the line.
Overall, a HVAC tune-up is a proactive step you can take to help ensure that your heating and cooling system is operating at peak performance, which can save you money on energy costs and help prevent breakdowns or repairs in the future. It is generally recommended that you schedule a HVAC tune-up twice a year, ideally before the start of the heating and cooling seasons.
Benefits of a Fall HVAC Tune-up
With fall on the horizon, now is a great time to schedule a heating tune-up for your Marin, Sonoma, or Napa County home. There are several benefits of a fall HVAC tune-up before the start of the heating season. Below we review some of the key ones:
Overall, a fall HVAC tune-up is a smart investment in the long-term health and performance of your heating system. It can save you money, improve indoor air quality, and give you peace of mind during the fall and winter and throughout the year.
Our team at Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing are HVAC experts in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. We provide thorough heating tune-up services for the North Bay Area. Contact us today to schedule yours.
Ceiling fans offer an affordable way to keep your rooms cooler in the heat of summer, and you can also use them to keep your home warmer in the winter. The job of a ceiling fan is to help circulate air. What most people don’t realize is that fans have a few settings to not only adjust the speed of the rotation but also the spin direction. Here we explain how to make the most of your ceiling fans all year long.
Most ceiling fans have two spin directions: 1. clockwise and 2. counterclockwise. Although it might seem what direction your ceiling fan spins makes no difference, it is an important feature you should know how to use. Both directions help move stagnant air in a room which in turn allows you to either create cooler air or force the hot air that rises downwards. You choose the direction that will keep your room comfortable. If you run it the wrong way, you will get the opposite effect.
The clockwise spin is designed to create an updraft. As a result, this is the direction you want your fan to spin in the winter. Although the term clockwise sounds like the spin is going in the intended direction, in the case of ceiling fans, clockwise actually refers to a reverse rotation. When the fan spins clockwise, it draws cold air up and sends warm air down into your room. This allows you to conserve energy because the extra warm air allows you to set your furnace thermostat lower.
Counterclockwise rotations are the norm for ceiling fans. When spinning in this direction, the blades are moving forward, creating a downdraft. This is the circulation you want on hot days, as it moves air downward creating a cooling breeze.
Although you don’t “need” a ceiling fan if you have air conditioning, you can still benefit from ceiling fans according to the U.S. Department of Energy. When used with air conditioning, your ceiling fan can improve room temperature allowing you to set your thermostat up to four degrees higher. This can save an average of 17 cents per hour. If you don’t have air conditioning or want to reduce the costs of running your AC every day in the summer, an AC unit uses a whopping 3 kilowatts of electricity at 36 cents per hour, while a ceiling fan uses just 30 watts at about 1 cent per hour.
This is important because room size impacts the effectiveness of your ceiling fan. The general rule is to use your room’s square footage to determine the fan size you need based on the following:
For rooms up to 400 square feet, you can choose either a 56” or 60” fan or install two 52” fans.
Having the right size fan isn’t enough to ensure you get the best use of it. You also want to consider where you install your fan to improve performance. Here are a few tips to help you choose the best spot for your ceiling fans:
These tips will optimize your ceiling fan’s performance.
As mentioned above, keeping your ceiling fan blades clean improves their effectiveness, but it is important to avoid putting pressure on the blades when cleaning. This can damage the blades or set them off balance. As well, never spray your blades directly with cleaning products as this can get into the mechanisms. Instead, lightly spritz a clean cloth or sponge, and then gently remove dirt. Always allow the blades to dry completely before turning the fan on.
If you would like more tips on improving energy efficiency in Novato, speak to the experts at Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing today.
Air conditioning is a must-have during the hot summer season in Novato, but it works to maintain temperature year-round. If your air conditioning unit has stopped working, you may find yourself wondering whether you should have it repaired or put out the cash to buy a new one.
At Bragg Plumbing Heating & Cooling, we often receive questions about the repair or buy new comparison. The answer is dependent on a variety of factors and varies from person to person.
If your AC isn’t doing its job and you’re wondering what to do, here are some details to consider.
The average shelf life of a well-maintained AC unit is about 15-years maximum. This is good to know, and factor into your decision, because if your unit is 13-years old, it probably hasn’t got many years left in it. In this case, replacing the unit with a new one is the most sensible option. On the other hand, if your AC is within 5-years of its lifespan, it has plenty to go and can often be repaired affordably.
The age of your unit is something worth considering, but there are other variables that go into the repair vs. buy new debate. Air conditioning units can break in several ways. Knowing the exact cost for a repair is unlikely without a professional quote. On average, you can expect to pay somewhere between $75 to $500 depending on time and parts needed.
To buy a new AC, your costs are also varied. It depends on which unit you want to purchase, and the cost of installation, if you’re unable to install yourself. Generally, most homeowners will pay somewhere between $2,500 and $8,000 for a new unit in Novato.
This may immediately spark the urge to repair over buying, but repair costs accumulate if more than one repair is needed.
If your AC unit is newer, it may still be covered by some form of manufacturer or extended warranty. Check your purchasing paperwork to see if there is any time left on your warranty and whether the type of damage is covered.
For a manufacturer’s warranty, the average coverage period is 1-year from the time of purchase and installation. This covers manufacturing defects within the AC unit, but not physical damage caused inside the home.
Extended coverage through your AC sales specialist or heating and cooling team may provide longer and more in-depth coverage. You will have to go through the provider of the warranty to have repairs or unit replacement covered. This is a good thing to think about when you purchase, or if you purchase new to replace your current unit. Ask about warranty and extended warranty options to avoid paying out next time.
An older and broken AC unit is likely to need some ongoing TLC. On the other hand, a new AC unit shouldn’t need repairs for a while, and with regular inspections from your heating and cooling specialist, it may never need repairs, only maintenance.
At Bragg Plumbing Heating & Cooling, we recommend ongoing annual inspections and maintenance of your AC unit. This keeps everything running effectively and efficiently and means fewer future repairs for you.
Buying a new AC means getting rid of old technology and updating your energy efficiency. While the cost of a new AC unit is high, the value of ongoing reduced energy bills is attractive.
Similarly, fixing a broken AC unit could bring down the cost of energy in your home as well. If your AC has been struggling to work for a while, fixing any problems could bring it back to functioning at full capacity, which means less energy drain.
So, knowing all we know about unit costs, lifespans, and repair prices, which is better? Should you repair an AC unit or replace it? As a rule, we’d need to see the unit to know for sure. In general, however, we usually find that it’s more affordable to replace an old broken AC unit than to try to fix it. For a new unit, which was only recently paid for, we recommend having it fixed.
Interested in learning more about heating and cooling services in Novato? We invite you to contact us today or visit online for a full list of products and services.Heating and cooling are important parts of your home, so it’s only logical to want to be careful when choosing an HVAC company in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. At Bragg Plumbing Heating & Cooling, we want our clients to have the best, and that means keeping you informed of what makes an HVAC company great. Here we’ve compiled a few things to consider in your search for heating and cooling experts.
Condensation, or small droplets of water forming on your air ducts, may not seem like a big deal. What’s the harm of a little water? Unfortunately, over time, these little bits of water will build up and start to stain anything near it, including drywall, carpets, and ceilings.
Unsightly stains are just the beginning. When the water gets into your air conditioner or furnace it can cause damage. If there is enough water, and if the condensation is left unresolved for long enough, it can even cause structural damage to your home by wearing away wooden supports. Condensation can also cause mold and mildew growth, resulting in damage and foul odors throughout your home.
Plus, condensation can be a sign that there is some kind of problem with your HVAC system. So, why are you getting condensation and how do you stop it? There may be some climate causes, or they may be due to problems with your HVAC system. Here’s what you need to know if you have noticed condensation on your air ducts.
When there is a big difference between the temperature in the air and the temperature in the air ducts, condensation can naturally occur. This is more likely if your home has a lot of humidity. You can run a dehumidifier to reduce it, but this might be uncomfortable depending on what kind of humidity conditions you have. Otherwise, insulating your air ducts can get rid of the problem if it is just the result of a temperature difference.
Yes, insulating your air ducts will prevent condensation issues. What it does is protect the air inside the ducts from the temperatures outside of them. When they don’t touch, they won’t have the chance to generate condensation. If the whole system is insulated, then your condensation problems should be over.
Insulating your air ducts may not be the right way for you to get rid of condensation, depending on what’s wrong with your system. If your moisture problems are caused by an issue in the HVAC system, it is far better to get that issue repaired before you insulate the air ducts. That way, the underlying problem is addressed, and you won’t have to deal with the results if you’d left it unchanged. That might be an inefficient HVAC system, cold or warm spots in the house, increase utility bills, strain on your air conditioner, and much more.
Sometimes there are more significant HVAC problems that lead to condensation issues. These include:
Most of the issues that lead to condensation on your air ducts may also make your home less comfortable, limiting the flow of conditioned air to some or all of your home. If these issues go unaddressed you may start to feel cold spots, and your HVAC system may run less efficiently, resulting in a higher electricity bill. It’s always wise to address condensation issues as soon as you can, so that you can avoid these additional problems and get a better functioning HVAC system altogether.
Are you ready to solve the problem of condensation on your air ducts before it starts to cause more problems? Reach out to us at Bragg Plumbing & Heating to get help with your condensation problems and stop them once and for all.
When Navato temperatures begin to rise in the summer, it can be impossible to find relief from the heat. Having air conditioning definitely helps, but the only problem is it can get expensive to run your AC nonstop. Here we offer tips to keep your home cool in the heat of summer, without having to depend completely on your AC.
Your attic is exposed to the heat of the sun, especially if you don’t have any shade-providing trees in sight. As a result, it can get as much as 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the floors below. Unfortunately, as your attic continues to hold onto that hot air, it inevitably will begin to heat the whole house. You can use the following steps to reduce heat in your attic:
By keeping your attic cooler, you can keep the entire home more comfortable.
Once you tackle the attic, you can improve your home comfort levels by making these changes to the second/upper floors of your home:
These tips will make it easier to sleep at night.
On the main floor use these cooling tips:
Trying just a few of these tips will keep your living space more comfortable.
Your basement is already the coolest place in the house since heat rises. Creating a welcoming basement space where people can congregate is an excellent way to keep everyone cool.
For more information on summer home comfort in Navato, speak to the experts at Bragg Plumbing Heating & Cooling today.
It might not seem like something as basic as turning off a water heater would be difficult. Many homeowners find themselves scratching their heads when trying to figure out what valves to turn! And because it varies based on whether your system is gas or electric, it can take a few extra steps to make sure everything is shut down completely. Here are easy instructions to turn off both gas and electric water heaters to make sure you do it properly.
The only time you need to turn off your water heater is when you have a leak. This can happen for many reasons from age and rust to a malfunction with the valve. As soon as you realize your water heater is leaking, you should turn off the water supply until someone can come and have a look to determine what is causing the leak. They will make repairs or suggest a replacement if the tank can’t be repaired. Some people think they need to turn off their water heater before they go away, but it is not necessary.
First, when you turn your water heater off completely you will return home to find you have no hot water. Second, you can also add wear and tear to your water heater from the effort required to shut down, turn back on and then heat an entire tank of water. It makes more sense to either lower the temperature to about 50 degrees F or to set your water heater to VAC for “Vacation Mode”. Most new models provide this handy setting.
If you aren’t sure where your water heater is located, they are usually in the basement, a utility closet, or sometimes in the garage or attic.
For gas water heaters, you’ll need to look for the temperature dial which is usually at the front on the bottom. Turn the dial off.
The plumbing line is either at the top or bottom of your water heater. Once you turn the valve off, you have successfully cut off the water supply.
If your intent is to drain the heater, you’ll need a hose hook up to the boiler drain. You can then put the hose outside to let the water drain into your yard, or you can use a bucket. However, a bucket might not be big enough depending on how much water is in your tank.
The valve tends to be on the right side of the water heater. To shut off the gas you either have a lever or a knob. If it is a lever turn it perpendicular. For knobs turn it clockwise.
The final step is to look for the relief valve near the top of the heater. Once you turn it off it allows air to enter the tank.
Your electric heater will be located in the same areas as gas water heaters.
For electric water heaters, you’ll need to find your breaker box. In most cases, the box is located either in the garage or on the exterior of your house. From there you need to find the breaker line providing power to your water heater and turn it off.
The plumbing line is either at the top or bottom of your electric water heater. Once you turn the valve off you cut off the water supply.
As with gas water heaters, if you need to drain the heater, you can attach a garden hose to the boiler drain. Either put the house outside to let the water drain into your yard or use a bucket. However, watch the water level on the bucket to as it might not be big enough depending on how much water is in your tank.
The final step is to look for the relief valve near the top of the electric water heater. Turn it off to allow air to enter the tank.
If you are having issues with your water heater or can’t figure out how to turn it off, speak to your Novato plumber expert at Bragg Plumbing Heating & Cooling today.
A ductless air conditioning system uses individual units to deliver cool air to your rooms instead of ducts. Also known as mini-split systems, they consist of indoor units, a single outdoor unit, and some form of remote control. Here we look at how they work and when they are recommended.
As the name implies, the ductless air conditioner cools air without using ducts. Because of this, they tend to be more energy-efficient and effective at maintaining consistent, comfortable temperatures. The air does not have time to warm while traveling through the ducts and instead is delivered directly to each room. The system is easier to install without the need for knocking out ceilings and walls. The outdoor unit provides cool air for up to four indoor units and is connected to the indoor units with a small 3” hole. It is the ideal solution for many situations including homes with low ceilings, for additions, or for rooms that tend to be warmer than the rest of the home.
As already mentioned, the ductless AC unit consists of three main components:
The three components are easy to install and take up very little space.
How Does a Ductless Air Conditioner Work?
In a ductless system, the heat and air go through a cycle to heat and cool your home. Using a heat pump, the cycle transfers heat from evaporation and condensation, using a refrigerant substance that moves through the system with a compressor pump. There are two heat exchanger coils: One used to condense the refrigerant and the second to evaporate it. The air is cooled because the refrigerant absorbs heat around it as it goes through the evaporation process and during the condensing process the previously absorbed heat is released.
As a result, you can maintain the ideal temperature whether it is to heat or cool your home. In other words, the heat pump used in a ductless system cools the air by reversing refrigerant flow between the indoor and outdoor units. While it might seem odd that a “heat” pump is used to cool your home, it is the way the heat pump cycles hot air and turns it into cool air that makes it so effective and efficient.
The ductless system is ideal for homes with:
They offer an easy option when undergoing renovations, or for areas where you wish to have temperature control separate to the rest of the home.
Indoor units are very flexible offering many options for installation including:
All models have a reasonably narrow profile, making them easy to fit in any space.
There are many advantages to ductless AC systems including:
While the systems tend to cost more upfront compared to traditional AC systems, the benefits can be seen over the life of the system through improved energy efficiency.
One last point is that a ductless air conditioning system can be added to your home even if you have a traditional system in place. It is the ideal solution for easy installation for all kinds of scenarios, including renovations for awkward spaces such as workrooms, sheds and garages, as well as providing more efficient heating and cooling for rooms that have difficulty maintaining comfortable temperatures.
If you would like to learn more about ductless air conditioning services in Novato, get in touch with the team at Bragg Plumbing Heating & Cooling today.
Do you feel the chill of winter creeping into your home? Is cozying up to the fire or wrapping yourself up in a blanket the only way to keep warm? If so, your gas furnace might need some TLC.
Keeping your gas furnace working at peak performance requires preventative cleaning and maintenance. This is the best way to get the longest life and reliability out of your home heating system.
If you want to keep your system running efficiently, you can use these gas furnace cleaning tips.
To do the job, you’ll need some essential tools including:
Get them all together so you don’t have to keep stopping your work to find the right tools.
This is important to reduce the risk of shocks or gas leaks. First, turn off the furnace power source found in your circuit breaker box. Next, switch the furnace’s electrical power to off. Then, shut off the gas valve with a ¼ turn.
Start with the exterior surfaces, wiping them down with a clean damp rag. Next, remove the furnace access door, which usually comes off if you lift it up and out. If you have a burner cover, you’ll have to loosen the screws to remove it. Use a vacuum to clear away dust from the burners and furnace base. Try to get every surface, including the compartment behind the blower door. Just lift it and reach in with the vacuum nozzle. If you notice any soot, or dark dust build-up, stop the job, and give your local gas furnace expert a call. This means there’s something wrong with combustion.
You’ll probably have to unscrew the control panel as it most likely is blocking the blower. Use a socket and ratchet to remove the bolts holding the blower in place. Take the blower out carefully and avoid touching the wiring and counterweights on the fan blades. Gently use the vacuum to remove dust, and if necessary, use a small brush to wipe off anything that the vacuum doesn’t remove. Although you can do this yourself, a professional will make sure that the cleaning removes all the dirt or else the system can be thrown off balance.
Use the straw to gently blow dust off the pilot light to make sure your readings are accurate. If your furnace is a newer model, it might have a hot surface igniter instead. If so, don’t touch it. You can still use the straw to blow off dust.
The flame sensor is in a bracket. Pull it out and use your emery cloth to clean it to help ensure your furnace lights properly. Slide it back into place.
Look for signs of cracking or fraying on the drive belt. If it seems damaged, you can purchase a new one and replace it. When you make a replacement it should be tensioned to deflect ½-3/4-inch.
Remove the oil caps and clean them and then use no more than 2 to 3 drops of lubricating oil on the two blower motor and shaft bearings.
Remove the oil furnace filter and replace it. This should actually be done every three months. Always choose a filter based on manufacturer recommendations or else you might strain the blower motor.
Once complete you can turn everything back on. To activate the burners turn up your thermostat and then make sure the burner flames are even and blue. If the flames are yellow, you have dirty burners. This is a problem and needs a professional maintenance person to come in and clean and adjust them.
Last but not least, if you have a heating and cooling system, you have to adjust the dampers for seasonal settings.
If this seems like a lot of work, it might make more sense to schedule a gas furnace maintenance call. This is where we come in. As your Novato gas furnace experts, the team at Novato can provide gas furnace maintenance, repairs, and replacement so you stay toasty warm all winter long! Give us a call today!