When you need heating and furnace services in Hayward, San Jose, and the Bay Area, call ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We serve homeowners throughout the south and east Bay. Call us to schedule your heating tune-up, or for heating repair. We also install new furnaces and heat pumps.

Here’s everything you need to know about AC refrigerant

You may have heard your neighbors talking about this year’s AC refrigerant phase-out. The U.S. Clean Air Act of 2010 mandated that R-22 refrigerant—a known threat to the earth’s ozone layer—stop being manufactured or imported by 2020. This means that all the R-22 that currently exists in the United States is all that’s left.

But, just what is AC refrigerant, and how does this phase-out impact your air conditioner? Does your AC unit need a recharge? In this article, we’ll address some of the common misconceptions about refrigerant and go over everything you should know about how air conditioners work.

What is AC refrigerant, and what purpose does it serve?

Your air conditioner’s refrigerant line—and the refrigerant in that line—is arguably the most important part of the system. This chemical has a special property: as it absorbs heat, it transitions from a gas to a liquid. When it loses that heat, it goes back to its gaseous state. In an air conditioner, this property is used to transport heat energy from one location to another. The refrigerant exists in a closed loop that travels from inside your home to your evaporator unit outside.

In layman’s terms, the refrigerant absorbs heat energy from inside your home, deposits it outside, and then repeats that cycle again and again until the temperature in your home is sufficiently lowered. When the refrigerant releases its heat outside, it cools and turns back into a gas, returning to inside your home. This further cools the air and the refrigerant is ready to absorb more heat energy.

An AC refrigerant leak can cause a number of performance and efficiency issues. Call one of our techs out for an inspection.What about heat pumps?

Air conditioners use refrigerant to cool your home. However, a different HVAC system known as a heat pump is capable of using this same process to also heat your home in the winter. In colder weather, heat pumps reverse the process described above. The refrigerant absorbs heat energy from outside, and then releases that energy inside. Even relatively cold, outdoor air has some ambient heat energy for the refrigerant to draw from. In this way, heat pumps can both cool your home in the summer and heat your home in the winter.

How long will my current refrigerant last?

This is where many homeowners tend to mix up their car and their home. Unlike a car’s air conditioning system which needs an “AC recharge” every 2-3 summers, your home’s air conditioning refrigerant exists in a closed loop system, completely sealed off from the outside world. In theory, your air conditioner should never “go through” or run out of its refrigerant. If everything is right with your system, you should be able to continue using the same refrigerant that came with the system.

What is a refrigerant leak?

However, there’s an important caveat here: refrigerant leaks can happen, leading to a loss in refrigerant and your home’s air conditioner just not working properly. A refrigerant leak occurs when the line is damaged in some way—typically, at the point where it runs between the outdoor evaporator and the home. If your refrigerant line has a leak, you’ll start to notice declining air conditioner performance and efficiency. The less refrigerant in the line, the longer the air conditioner has to cycle what’s left to absorb heat energy out of your home.

Can I buy more refrigerant?

This depends on the age of your system and the type of refrigerant used. Older air conditioners use R-22 refrigerant, which is currently being phased out due to its negative effects on the environment, particularly the earth’s protective ozone layer. As a result, remaining stores of this refrigerant have significantly gone up in price.

Newer air conditioners use R-410A refrigerant, which is better for the environment and less expensive. R-410A is actually better than R-22 in several other ways, including being a net positive for your system’s energy-efficiency and your indoor comfort.

To answer this question more directly, however, the answer is no. Guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency prohibit homeowners from directly purchasing their own AC refrigerant. Only professionals are allowed to buy refrigerants. This is due to the strict disposal rules involved with old refrigerant: improperly disposing of refrigerant can cause incredible damage to the environment.

What happens if I need more refrigerant?

First, we strongly recommend you give us a call and have one of our certified technicians out to inspect your air conditioner. We’ll want to confirm that you do in fact have a leak and that your system is running low on refrigerant. Don’t just take another company’s word for it: unfortunately, some HVAC techs out there take advantage of homeowners’ familiarity with the need for an AC recharge in cars and sell them on an “AC recharge” service that is either unnecessary or—without fixing the actual leak itself—only a temporary fix.

In other words, we’ll want to plug the hole before filling the proverbial bathtub back up with water. Once we’ve fixed the leak, we can then recharge the system. As part of this process, we’ll safely remove all the existing refrigerant from the line, capturing it for proper disposal.

If your air conditioner uses R-22, you may have a choice to make. Replacing leaked R-22 is cost-prohibitive, and is only going to get more expensive in the coming months and years as this older refrigerant becomes more and more scarce here in the U.S. Depending on the cost involved and the age of your system, our technician may recommend that you either retrofit your existing system to use R-410A or upgrade to a new air conditioner.

If you have refrigerant questions, we have answers

The team at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing prides ourselves on helping local homeowners here in Hayward and the Bay Area with their air conditioning repair, service, and replacement needs. You can trust in our friendly, knowledgeable technicians. If your air conditioner isn’t working properly, or you have reason to believe that you have a refrigerant leak, please contact us immediately.

We’re taking steps to protect you and your home during the COVID-19 outbreak

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Hayward, the Bay Area, and the state of California has impacted everyone. As of this blog being published, experts remain unsure of what path the outbreak will take, and local, county, and state emergency orders remain in place. At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we are taking precautionary safety measures to protect your home and business. In this article, we’ll review what COVID-19 is, how we’re doing our part to prevent its spread, and how we’re here for your 24/7 emergency cooling and plumbing needs.

What you should know about COVID-19

COVID-19, or “novel coronavirus,” is a respiratory virus that can be easily spread from person-to-person by inhaling microscopic water droplets expelled in a sneeze or cough from an infected person. The virus can also be transmitted by touching infected surfaces and then touching one’s nose, mouth, or eyes. Due to its “novel” nature, no one has pre-existing immunity to COVID-19.

The virus has a prolonged incubation period of several days, where infected people can be contagious but not have flu-like symptoms. In fact, experts now believe up to 80% of those with COVID-19 either have light symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, in a wide variety of patients, COVID-19 can be life-threatening and require hospitalization. In some cases, it can be fatal.

There are two recommended ways we can all participate in slowing the spread of the disease and preventing our hospitals and medical personnel from being overwhelmed. The first is by taking precautionary measures to prevent its spread. This includes washing your hands regularly, sanitizing surfaces and objects such as your phone, and wearing a protective face covering when going into supermarkets. The second way, when possible, is staying home. While not everyone can stay home, reducing the people in public spaces and at job sites can slow the spread and—ultimately—help save lives.

As of April 6, many of the services we provide are exempt under the state’s list of essential services and service personnel. For further guidance and the latest up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, please refer to the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Call us for 24/7 service

With so many people working from home and sheltering-in-place, your home’s plumbing and cooling systems are needed more than ever. That’s why—for the duration of this crisis—we are offering 24/7 emergency plumbing, heating, and cooling services here in Hayward and the East Bay. If you need fast and reliable emergency service, call us. We’ll send one of our dedicated and experienced technicians out to your home as soon as possible.

Protecting you and your home

We understand that this is a scary time to have technicians and plumbers visit your home. However, we want to assure you that our technicians are taking all the necessary precautions for your safety. If you have any questions about our safety measures, please give us a call.

Thank you

In the coming weeks and months, the COVID-19 crisis will continue to have a profound and unprecedented impact on our community and its local businesses. We are proud to stand with the people of Hayward and the East Bay during these hard, difficult times. We also thank our first responders, healthcare professionals, and everyone else who is going above-and-beyond for our community at this time.

As always, thank you for your support of local businesses like ours. Like many other businesses in our community, we owe everything to you: our customers. We’re going to get through this—together. #HaywardStrong

Here are the benefits of hiring a professional for air duct cleaning

Your home’s HVAC system is one of the most important parts of the infrastructure: a good furnace provides warmth in the winter, and your air conditioner keeps your house cool in the summer. However, the air ducts in your home are essential parts of the HVAC system, as well. Without a properly functioning system of air ducts, your furnace and AC unit can’t send heated and cooled air to every part of your home. This one of the reasons why hiring a professional for air duct cleaning just makes sense.

Professional air duct cleaning can effectively remove the dust and other debris that reduce the functionality of your HVAC system. As we’ll review in this article, there are numerous other advantages of hiring a professional to clean your home’s air ducts.

Why hiring a professional for air duct cleaning makes sense

If you want your IAQ improved and your air ducts thoroughly cleaned, hiring a professional for air duct cleaning makes sense.

If you want your IAQ improved and your air ducts thoroughly cleaned, hiring a professional for air duct cleaning makes sense.

#1. Professionals have the proper training and equipment

If all you need to do to clean out your air ducts is remove built-up dust, it may seem like you could accomplish the task with a good vacuum cleaner as part of your annual spring cleaning. However, thorough air duct cleaning requires specialized equipment and the ability to access all parts of your ductwork, which can be difficult or flat-out impossible to do with a standard vacuum cleaner.

It’s also common for insects and other small pests to take up residence in your air ducts, so cleaning must include measures to safely remove any potential pests and their droppings. A professional air duct cleaning expert has access to industrial-grade equipment and the proper training to clean your ductwork safely.

#2. Clean air ducts improve performance and lower utility bills

When your home’s air ducts start to build up dirt, dust, and tiny insects, it makes it harder for air to move through them properly. Removing this debris reduces the strain on your furnace and air conditioner so they don’t have to turn on as often to maintain the temperature in your home.

You may also notice that your furnace and AC unit are quieter then they do run because they don’t have to cycle as much to move the air around your home. Reduced strain on your HVAC equipment also reduces their energy requirements, so you can enjoy lower utility bills.

#3. Professional cleaning improves the air quality in your home

When dust, pollen, and other allergens get inside your home’s air ducts, they start circulating throughout your home every time the furnace or air conditioner runs. This can increase seasonal allergy symptoms or health issues from mold and mildew.

Giving your home a thorough spring cleaning can eliminate the allergens and dust that build up over the winter on all indoor surfaces, but without clean air ducts, these irritants can return immediately. A professional cleaning service can remove all debris that negatively affects your home’s indoor air quality, including tiny insects and pollens that contribute to breathing difficulties.

ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is your source for expert air duct cleaning

Getting your home’s air ducts cleaned by a professional improves indoor air quality and ensures your HVAC system can perform properly. Clean ducts also reduce the load on your HVAC equipment, which can increase longevity and reduce the need for repairs. At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, our expert technicians have the top-notch training and the right tools to thoroughly clean your home’s entire system of air ducts.

To learn more about our cleaning services or schedule an appointment, contact us today.

5 ways to cut your winter heating costs and save money

There’s nothing quite as annoying as an unexpected, high utility bill. It’s why most homeowners are looking for ways to make their homes more efficient. You can cut your winter heating costs by both improving the efficiency of your HVAC systems and your home. In this article, we’ll review the 5 best ways you can lower your heating bills and use your furnace or heat pump less. Here’s what you need to know:

Cut your winter heating costs by adding attic insulation to your home.

By adding attic insulation to your home, you can cut your winter heating costs significantly.

#1. Schedule a heating tune-up

Start with a seasonal heating tune-up. Annual maintenance is critically important to your heating system. Not only does a professional tune-up and inspection help keep the system running right, but it also makes it run more efficiently. During your maintenance appointment from our team here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we will thoroughly inspect and clean the system, adjusting comfort settings as needed to ensure that its running at its maximum efficiency.

#2. Get a home energy audit this winter

Unfortunately, many homes here in the Bay Area were not originally built with energy-efficiency in mind. As a result, much of the cooling and heating in your home ends up being wasted, most of it as it escapes through the attic, walls, or through gaps underneath doors and windows. The good news is that you can cut down on this waste by scheduling a home energy audit with our team.

During your professional energy audit, one of our technicians will measure different areas of your home for energy waste. They will also inspect your ducts, thermostat, and more. At the end of this process, we provide you with a detailed report on how your home is using—and not using—the cooling and heating created by your HVAC systems. You can then use this report to start making your home more efficient, which might include some of the steps to follow.

#3. Upgrade to a smart thermostat

Smart thermostats—known by some as “programmable thermostats”—are an awesome step forward that is making it easier for homeowners to track and reduce cooling and heating waste. These thermostats automate temperature changes in the home depending on the time of day or whether or not someone is home. This eliminates the need for you, the homeowner, to remember to turn the thermostat down and up at different points during the day. All told, a smart thermostat helps the average homeowner reduce their cooling and heating costs by 10%. That may not sound like much, but these year-round savings can really add up.

Before you purchase a smart thermostat, be sure to check with your utility company here in the Bay Area to see if they offer any special incentives, rebates, or programs with your purchase. Some utility companies have special flex utility pricing for homeowners who join a peak hours use-reduction program.

#4. Add attic insulation

Many homes here in California do not have sufficient attic insulation, which is one of the leading causes of energy waste. As heated air travels through the ducts of your home in the winter, it begins to rise and escape from the ductwork. Without insulation to trap it inside of the house, that heat rises straight through the attic and roof, which means your heater has to work even harder to generate enough heat to change the temperature of your living room, kitchen, or bedroom.

By adding more insulation, you can prevent this energy loss. Be sure to check out this guide to get an idea of what type and amount of insulation you need. Here in California, we don’t need as much insulation as in colder climates.

#5. Reduce your use to cut your winter heating costs

So far, we’ve discussed how to increase the efficiency of your home and cut down on waste. However, you can and should also make an attempt to reduce your heater use. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Lower the temperature: For every degree you set the thermostat lower, you can reduce your heating bill by 1-3%.
  • Sleep through it: When you’re under blankets and asleep is the perfect time to have your smart thermostat set the temperature a bit lower.
  • Increase the humidity: Our winters here in the Bay Area can be dry, and dry air retains heat worse than humid air. Use a humidifier to balance the air inside your home, and you’ll feel more comfortable at lower temperatures.

For even more tips that will help you lower your winter heating costs, call us. At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we provide expert heating maintenance, repair, and system replacement services throughout Hayward and the Bay Area. Our professional technicians can help you find ways to lower your electric bill and save money in your home.

Here’s what you need to know about both gas and electric furnaces

At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we get a lot of great questions from our customers. Here’s a common one that homeowners want to know more about: when it comes to gas and electric furnaces, is there a difference?

The answer, simply put, is yes. Gas and electric furnaces have different installation needs, operate in very distinct ways, and often result in very different energy costs for the homeowner. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between these two types of systems and provide you with a starting point for deciding which one might be right for your home.

If you’re looking for a new heating system here in Hayward and the Bay Area, your next step is to contact our team. We offer free in-home estimates on new gas and electric furnaces, as well as other types of heating systems such as heat pumps. We can help match your home to the perfect new system.

Get to know: Gas Furnaces

How do gas furnaces heat your home?

Gas furnaces heat your home by combusting fuel—in this case, natural gas—in a sealed chamber within the furnace, and then transferring the heat energy released to air on the other side of the heat exchanger. This heated air is then blown out of the furnace and into the air ducts of your home, where it gets distributed to individual rooms. The furnace continues to burn fuel until the home is heated to the desired temperature.

As a Carrier dealer, we install both gas and electric furnaces here in Hayward and the Bay Area.

A Carrier gas furnace is an energy-efficient option for your home.

The efficiency of a gas furnace can be measured by its Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. Essentially, an AFUE score indicates how much heat energy the furnace is able to extract from its fuel, with the remaining going to waste. The higher the AFUE, the less natural gas the system uses to produce more heat. AFUE is a great way to compare one gas furnace against another gas furnace. However, there are limitations to using AFUE to evaluate all types of furnaces, which will be discussed in the electric furnace section below.

Evaluating gas furnace efficiency

Since the early 1990s, the U.S. federal government has mandated that all new furnaces have a minimum AFUE of 78%. This score indicates that the furnace is able to convert 78% of the gas to heat, with 22% waste. Most modern furnaces, however, do a lot better than that federally mandated floor. In fact, many top-tier gas furnaces are able to convert 95-98% of their fuel, partially due to advances in design that better capture heat energy and conserve gas.

Buying a gas furnace

If you’re interested in installing a gas furnace in your home, compare the AFUE of different models when making your decision. A gas furnace with 85% AFUE may cost less initially, but paying more for a furnace with 95% AFUE will eventually pay off through lower winter heating bills. To further balance the scales, there may be local utility rebates in your area to reimburse you for the installation of a high-efficiency gas furnace.

Get to know: Electric Furnaces

How do electric furnaces work?

Unlike gas furnaces, electric furnace operation does not involve any form of combustion or flame. Instead, they generate heat energy by running electricity through resistor coils inside of the furnace. These coils become superheated. The furnace’s internal blower then moves air through these coils, heating the air so that it can be distributed to the rooms of your home. In many ways, the hairdryer on your bathroom sink is a miniaturized, handheld electric furnace! Both systems operate using the same principles.

Evaluating electric furnace efficiency

As we hinted at above, AFUE is not a great means for evaluating electric furnace efficiency in the real world. Why? Well, all electric furnaces are somewhere between 95% and 100% AFUE, with many being able to transform all the electricity they use into heat energy. Great, you might think. Sounds like an electric furnace is a more efficient option than a gas furnace.

Well, not exactly. Despite often being more efficient, electric furnaces are costlier to operate than gas furnaces in a vast majority of cases because those two energy sources are priced differently. In most parts of the country—including here in California—natural gas is far cheaper than electricity. This is one of the main pitfalls of exclusively looking at AFUE as a means of interpreting just how much you’ll pay on your monthly heating bills.

Buying an electric furnace

So, if electricity is that much more expensive than gas, why install an electric furnace? There are several factors that may make an electric system right for you:

  • If your home does not have natural gas, electricity is the next best choice compared to oil or propane furnaces.
  • Electric furnaces do not need an exhaust setup to dispose of byproduct gases.
  • It is possible that renewable energy makes electricity somewhat less expensive in the future. If you have rooftop solar, the cost of running an electric furnace is greatly reduced.

Deciding between a gas and electric furnace

If you’re not sure what type of furnace is right for your home, our recommendation is that you give our team a call. There are several factors to consider when choosing between a gas and electric furnace, not to mention the potential option of installing a heat pump or ductless heating system. During your free in-home estimate, one of our technicians can talk you through your options and help you find the heating system and solution that’s right for your home.

Also, during your estimate, be sure to ask us about our financing on new furnaces and heating systems, available with approved credit.

How to properly shut down your furnace after winter

For most U.S. homeowners, the official end of winter comes when they switch their thermostat from its “heating” setting to either the “off” or “cooling” one. As everything thaws out in the spring, the days start getting longer and the nights become warmer. The home’s furnace—once essential to indoor comfort—is no longer to be used until the following fall and winter. However, that’s not the end of the story. Few homeowners know this, but you actually can—and should—shut down the furnace itself after winter. In this article, we’ll review the reasons why a furnace shutdown is necessary, the benefits of doing so, and how you can keep your furnace in great condition throughout the calendar year.

What is a furnace shutdown?

Surprisingly, many U.S. homeowners leave their furnaces running throughout the calendar year. Seasonal furnace shutdown tends to be a home maintenance item that gets left behind in the busy days of spring. While modern furnaces can be left on year-round without any significant safety or mechanical issues, you have the potential to save energy by shutting it off. This applies to both gas and electric furnaces.

Have an ABC technician shut down your furnace after winter.Shutting down a gas furnace

Most natural gas furnaces have a standing pilot light that requires a steady flow of some gas to keep lit. While the natural gas use for the pilot may seem minuscule, it can really add up: most homeowners waste about $50 every year keeping the furnace pilot light running during the off-season. Add up those costs through successive years, and you could save hundreds by just making a small change to your spring cleaning checklist.

To shut down your gas furnace, turn off the gas valve supplying fuel to the system and its pilot light. You should see the pilot go out. Make sure you leave a note reminding yourself to turn the gas back on in the fall so that your heating system can get back to work heating your home.

Shutting down an electric furnace

As with all the electric appliances in your home, electric furnaces continue to draw power even when they are not in use. Sometimes referred to as “vampire appliances,” this passive energy use can sap your home’s energy efficiency and spike your energy bills. In the context of your electric furnace, you can avoid this by shutting off power to the circuit the furnace is on. Just double-check that nothing else is on that circuit that you might need.

Caring for your furnace after the winter months

Besides shutting the system off, there are several things you can do to care for your furnace in the spring:

Clean the area around the furnace

If you’re like many American homeowners who have their furnace in the basement, a storage closet, or garage, you’ve probably been tempted to store things next to it or near it. However, this is not recommended. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Fire Hazard: For obvious reasons, anything flammable should be kept away from the furnace. Leave at least two feet of space between the furnace and any stored objects, and keep ignitable materials—such as paint, oils, rags, cardboard boxes, clothes, or wood stain—away from the general vicinity.
  • Airflow: Your furnace requires air intake and outflow to work properly. Putting too many objects around the furnace can restrict this airflow, leading to efficiency, performance, and functionality problems.
  • Filter: Add vacuuming around the furnace to your spring cleaning to-do list. If the area around your furnace is full of dust, dirt, or lint, the furnace’s intake filter is going to become dirty faster. Any lint build-up—common in homes where the furnace is next to laundry machines in a basement or closet—can also present a fire hazard.

Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Wherever your furnace is, you should have a properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detector. While rare, a crack in the furnace heat exchanger or flue pipe could lead to the leakage of dangerous carbon monoxide gas into the home. Also known as “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless and odorless, making it difficult for humans to detect on their own. That’s why a working carbon monoxide detector is critical. Be sure to check the batteries and test the device every spring.

If you have reason to believe that something is wrong with your furnace or that you have a potential carbon monoxide leak, turn the system off and call an HVAC professional immediately.

Inspect the air registers

Take a walk around your home this spring and check out all the air supply and return registers. After a long winter of use, they may be getting pretty dusty. While you’re dusting the rest of your home, use a stepladder to clean these out thoroughly. This helps ensure that both your air conditioner and furnace are getting the air intake they need to function properly.

Another note: if you want to maximize the energy efficiency of your home, avoid keeping multiple registers closed in different rooms. This might seem counterintuitive: after all, doesn’t it make sense to shut off the flow of cold or hot air if you’re not using that room? However, in a whole-home forced-air setup, your furnace and air conditioner work to cool or heat the entire home. That heated or cooled air is still being pushed through the air duct to that closed register, so all you’re doing is making it more difficult for the system to make your home comfortable.

In fact, in most homes, it’s most efficient for the registers and doors to each room to be open.

Schedule your fall maintenance appointment

While the furnace is on your mind, you should take the time to call your local HVAC company and schedule a fall maintenance appointment. For most cooling and heating companies, annual tune-up appointment slots tend to fill up fast in the fall, as people call last-minute to schedule service. By calling in the spring, you can be one of the first to reserve your spot, ensuring that your gas or electric furnace gets looked at before the weather cools down.

While you’re on the phone, be sure to ask the HVAC team if they offer any kind of maintenance club or program to their customers. These recurring maintenance programs take the hassle out of having to remember to schedule annual tune-ups. Plus, most companies offer additional benefits as a ‘thank you’ for enrolling.

Here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, for instance, our Guardian Maintenance Club members get a call from our team to schedule their fall tune-up and we provide them with priority service, a service discount, and a 90-day no-breakdown guarantee on top of it!

For all your furnace shutdown and service needs, call in an expert

No two homes are quite the same. If you want service advice and furnace shutdown guidance tailored to your home and your heating system, our recommendation is that you contact a local HVAC service professional in your area. They will be able to walk you through the shutdown process and advise you on how to best prepare your air conditioner for the warmer weather ahead—which will include a seasonal tune-up.

Here in Hayward and the Bay Area, ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is your trusted team for furnace maintenance services. For all your heating needs, call us today.

What are the benefits of smart thermostat installation?

By now, you probably know a friend, neighbor, or family member who has a smart thermostat in their home. These new thermostats are becoming increasingly popular in U.S. households, whether installed on their own or in tandem with other devices to transform the space into a “smart home.” Yet, what are these thermostats, and what makes them so special? In this article, we’ll review the reasons why smart thermostat installation makes sense and help you evaluate whether or not a smart thermostat is right for your home.

For expert HVAC services here in Hayward and the East Bay, call us here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We’re your local thermostat repair, service, and replacement professionals.

Energy savings through all seasons

Automation for your cooling and heating system

A new smart thermostat has the potential to save you money on your cooling and heating bills. It does this by automating something that has been a manual action for decades: adjusting the thermostat. When you leave for work every morning, you need to remember to turn the thermostat up by a few degrees so that you aren’t wasting energy. Yet, for busy, working homeowners, that can be easy to forget. What’s more, you come home to a hot house that you then have to quickly cool down during peak hours, which can spike your energy costs.

You should consider smart thermostat installation for the potential energy savings and increased convenience.A smart thermostat automates this entire process, ensuring that you are not paying extra to cool (or heat!) your home while you are away. You can also schedule the thermostat to gradually start cooling your home down before you return, which further reduces energy use.

Check for utility company rebates

Some smart thermostat brands, such as Nest, have also partnered with local utility companies to create “energy conservation event” programs. When you sign up, your utility company will give you a rebate in exchange for participating in energy conservation events.

When the temperatures start to rise, this gives the utility control over your thermostat during peak hours, allowing them to pre-cool your home and then let it “coast” through the period of time where energy use is at its highest. This reduces demand on the grid and can save you serious money on the hottest days of the year here in the Bay Area.

How much can you save?

Exact performance can vary from model to model and from home to home. However, in general, homeowners can expect to save about 10-15% on their annual cooling and heating costs by upgrading to a smart thermostat. This could add up to more than a hundred dollars per year, which means that—along with any local utility rebates—the thermostat could pay itself off in about a year or two.

Convenience and comfort

Most of these thermostats are compatible with both smartphone apps and voice-activated home speakers. This makes checking and changing the temperature easy, whether you’re cooking dinner in the kitchen and can adjust it with a voice command or you’re on vacation and need to turn down the temperature for the house sitter.

Using the smartphone app for your thermostat, you can adjust the schedule from anywhere you are. In the winter, for instance, you can have your thermostat start turning up the temperature when you leave the office, so you return home to a space that’s nice and cozy.

Beyond the efficiency and convenience of a new smart thermostat, most models are sleek and stylish additions to your home. While that probably won’t influence your decision to upgrade to one, it certainly doesn’t hurt their case!

Call us to learn more about the benefits of smart thermostat installation

Not every smart thermostat is compatible with every cooling or heating system or setup. If you are unfamiliar with thermostat replacement, or would like an expert opinion, give us a call here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We’re the premier cooling and heating company of Hayward and the East Bay, and our friendly, experienced technicians specialize in smart thermostat installation.

We can help you determine what thermostats are compatible with your wiring and HVAC systems, and then expertly install the unit for maximum efficiency moving forward.

4 DIY energy upgrades you can make in your home

Owning a home takes a lot of work and money. On top of the mortgage, property taxes, and maintenance costs, Bay Area homeowners can be in for a rude awakening when they open that first summer electric bill. Here’s the good news: there are actually quite a few ways for homeowners to make their home more efficient and lower their energy bills. In this article, we’ll review some DIY energy upgrades you can make in your home this summer for greater comfort and savings.

One of the best DIY energy upgrades is adjusting the temperature of your water heater.

Lowering your water heater temperature is one of the best DIY energy upgrades you can make in your home. If you’re not sure how to do this, call us and have a plumber from ABC adjust the temperature of your water heater.

Start with a home energy audit from our team

Before you can start upgrading your home, you need to know where to start. That’s why we recommend that you call our team to schedule your 26-point home energy assessment. Our certified energy experts run through a professional energy audit, finding the places where your home is both saving and wasting energy. We then translate the data from our tests into easy-to-implement recommendations for improvements.

While some of our recommendations—such as upgrading to a new, more efficient air conditioner or adding attic insulation—require the assistance of a professional HVAC technician, there are many projects that homeowners can tackle immediately to put their home on the road to future savings. If you do have ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing work in your home after an energy audit, we’ll perform another set of measurements after the upgrades have been completed so that you can measure the positive change in your energy efficiency.

Tackle these DIY energy upgrades and start saving!

Add weatherstripping

A majority of the energy used in the home typically goes to the air conditioner and furnace. That means homeowners here in the Bay Area spend a lot of their utility bill cooling and heating their home, depending on the season. Anything you can do to retain more of that cooled or heated air is going to have a positive impact on your energy use and costs.

Here’s a low-cost, easy way to prevent the loss of cooled and heated air: add weatherstripping around your doors and windows. You’d be surprised how much energy is wasted by drafty exterior entryways. Efficiency-boosting weatherstripping can be found at any hardware store, and the minor investment is typically well worth the results.

Lower your water temperature

Without knowing it, many homeowners keep their water heater at a much higher temperature than it needs to be. This is especially true since many manufacturers set the default temperature at 140 degrees, while the minimum temperature recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is actually 120 degrees. Why the difference? For one, higher temperatures in the tank kill off harmful bacteria faster, although the DOE notes that 120 degrees works just as well in that regard for most households.

Too high of water temperature actually has a number of negative effects. First, it can pose a serious scald risk, especially to children. Second, any additional heat in the water heater tank means additional pressure on the tank itself. Finally—and most relevant to this article—continually keeping water hotter than it needs to be for household use wastes money.

Your water heater should have a temperature dial where you can adjust the temperature setting. By lowering the tank temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees, you can save between 6-10% on your home’s energy costs. Not sure how to do this? Be sure to talk to the plumbers on our team for water heater service.

Put your lights on a timer

In addition to upgrading any older light bulbs to LED or CFL bulbs, you should also watch your household lighting use. Policing yourself or kids when it comes to turning off the lights can get, well, old for everyone in the house. We recommend that homeowners add timers to control when lights turn on and off for the night.

If you want to take things a step further, use smart switches or bulbs that allow you to control the lights from your smartphone. That way, if you forget to turn off the lights when you leave, you can always do it on the go. This upgrade is convenient and will help you cut down on your home’s energy use.

Upgrade to a smart thermostat

Just like your lights, there’s a lot of energy waste that occurs because humans just aren’t good at remembering to do small, repetitive tasks on a daily basis. For many homeowners, adjusting the thermostat back up when they leave is easy to forget, yet—as a mistake repeated day after day—can really lead to a spike in unnecessary energy use and higher electric bills.

A smart thermostat solves this problem by allowing you to put your home on a schedule that accounts for when you’re regularly away from home, such as days you’re at work for 8 hours. With this control, you can have the air conditioner take a break while you’re gone, and then set your home to cool back down 30 minutes before you walk through the door.

Not all smart thermostats are the same! Look for ones with other helpful features, such as learning technology that allows the thermostat to program the most-efficient schedule on its own. If you have questions about smart thermostats and which models are compatible with your HVAC systems, call our team.

For more energy-saving advice and projects, call your friends at ABC!

As it turns out, there are quite a few projects that Bay Area homeowners can take on themselves to improve their home’s energy efficiency. Many of these upgrades have twin benefits: they both make your home more comfortable and lower your energy bills. Just remember: some of the most impactful energy upgrades—from upgrading to a new air conditioner to having new insulation installed—will need to be handled by a professional. Don’t forget to plan and budget for those changes if you really want to start saving.

If you’re ready to get started using less energy and saving money, our home energy audit is a great place to start. With a checklist from our team, you’ll be able to start knocking out items and watch your electric bill decrease every month.