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Find Out Why You Should Buy an HVAC System, Not Just a Replacement Unit

Find Out Why You Should Buy an HVAC System, Not Just a Replacement UnitIf your central HVAC system quits working, it’s most likely due to a failure of either the outdoor compressor or indoor evaporator, but not both. Before you decide to save money by replacing the failed component instead of buying a whole system, it’s important to consider the following factors.

Energy Efficiency

The efficiency ratings for new central HVAC systems are based on two matched components that work in tandem. Your HVAC system might function if you replace only one component, but its overall efficiency will be limited by the remaining older unit, so you won’t gain the improvement in efficiency you can expect from a complete new system.

Reliability

The efficiency incompatibility between old and new components in a mismatched HVAC system puts extra strain on the older unit, and this erodes its reliability. The additional strain increases the risk that the aging component will fail at the peak of the season, which could leave you facing an inconvenient equipment replacement at the worst possible time.

Operating Costs

If you invest in a whole system, you’ll benefit from energy savings and lower operating costs for maintenance and repairs over its service life. Replacing just one component robs you of these potential savings, and you’ll still have the expense of replacing the other half of the system in the near future.

Advanced Features

Upgrading your entire HVAC system gives you the chance to shop for the latest equipment features and design advancements. By having a complete new system installed, you can choose features and options that improve comfort, humidity control, and performance, such as more efficient coil designs, electronically commutated motors (ECM), scroll compressors, thermal expansion valves, and zoning.

Equipment Warranty

HVAC manufacturers only warrant split-system components that are installed together according to their strict specifications. Having a new component added to your older system makes it impossible to meet these specs, so it voids the coverage you’d normally have against failures caused by manufacturer defects.

To learn more about why it’s better to buy a completely new HVAC system for your San Diego-area home, contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Make a Whole-House Plan for Energy Savings

How to Make a Whole-House Plan for Energy SavingsTaking a whole-house approach to saving energy in your home requires much more than just investing in a high-efficiency heating and cooling system. While that’s important, it must go hand in hand with other steps in pursuit of consistent and significant energy savings.

Those steps include proper installation and maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment, weatherization in the form or effective air sealing, insulation and ventilation, and good energy-saving habits.

Let’s take apart an effective whole-house energy-saving strategy:

  • High-efficiency HVAC. Modern heating and cooling equipment is much more energy-efficient than even a decade ago, and federal standards require that HVAC equipment surpass minimal efficiency ratings. Discuss with your trusted HVAC contractor what cooling or heating system makes the most sense for your desired comfort and energy savings, household budget, and our Southern California climate.
  • Proper maintenance. You can have a state-of-the-art HVAC system but if it goes without routine, regular maintenance for any length of time, you won’t obtain the advertised energy savings. This means both homeowner maintenance (simple stuff like changing air filters and keeping registers clear) and yearly or twice-yearly professional maintenance.
  • Air sealing, insulation and ventilation. This is where the whole-house concept really kicks into gear. Ideally, you can start with an energy evaluation to ascertain where your home is losing energy, either via air leaks or inadequate insulation, and then based on that data proceed with whole-house weatherization. Even without an energy audit, you can take steps to seal visible air leaks with weatherstripping, caulk and/or spray foam, and upgrade insulation in vulnerable areas such as the attic. Likewise, proper attic ventilation is essential if you don’t want your attic negatively affecting comfort in the rest of your house.
  • Your own energy habits. You’d be surprised at the potential for increasing energy conservation in your home. One of the simplest ways is to get accustomed to higher (or lower) temperatures, depending on the season. Just a few degrees can make a big difference.

For help planning a whole-house energy-saving strategy for your San Diego area home, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Understand Air Conditioner Ratings

How to Understand Air Conditioner RatingsShopping for a new central air conditioner lacking a familiarity with air conditioner ratings is like going hiking barefoot. You’re not going to get very far. Ratings that show the cooling efficiency of an air conditioning system (in effect, how well the system converts electricity into cooling) will help you get the right A/C for your San Diego-area home.

The most common residential central cooling system in Southern California (and the U.S. as a whole) is the split-system A/C or heat pump. It has one component (the air handler/evaporator coil) inside the house and another (the condenser/compressor) outside. The main efficiency rating applied to split-systems is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The number — running from 13 to 25 in the U.S. — is calculated by dividing cooling output by the electrical power that goes into the equipment. The higher the number, the more efficient the A/C or heat pump.

Manufacturers in California are prohibited from selling split-system A/Cs with SEER numbers below 14. Heat pump A/Cs must have at least SEER 15. In order to qualify for the federal government’s energy-efficiency credential, the Energy Star, a split system air conditioner and heat pump must boast SEER 15 or above.

The higher efficiency does cost money, however, with incremental increases in SEER amounting to hundreds of dollars. A homeowner shopping for a new central A/C should consider how much use they expect to get out of their new cooling system. A family that runs the A/C constantly and expects to live in the same home for the foreseeable future should consider investing in a high-SEER A/C or heat pump. Over time, the lower operating costs will pay for the extra upfront cost. However, someone who doesn’t plan to stay in the same home more than a few years, or is out of town a lot, is probably better off with a low-end SEER system. Consult with your trusted HVAC contractor before making a decision.

For help understanding air conditioner ratings, or to discuss upgrading your San Diego home’s cooling system, please contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Here’s What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label Tells You

Here's What the Information on the EnergyGuide Label Tells YouIt can be quite a lengthy process to research the features and energy efficiency stats of different HVAC systems and appliances. If you want the best deal and system for your home, vigilant homework is required. Fortunately, there’s a bright yellow tag attached to most energy-using HVAC systems and appliances that make the job easier for you. Read on to learn how the EnergyGuide label can help!

EnergyGuide Information

The EnergyGuide label is part of a federally-mandated program designed to help consumers make educated choices when purchasing HVAC units, appliances, and other products. Manufacturers of these products submit the testing results in an annual report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This way, you know that the information contained on EnergyGuide labels is current up to one year.

Following is a basic guide to the EnergyGuide label:

  • Top left-hand corner displays product designation, features, size, and capacity.
  • Top right-hand corner displays the manufacturer, make, and model of the product.
  • Middle area displays the energy efficiency of the product (e.g. 22 SEER for a high-efficiency central air conditioner), and how the product compares to similar models in the same class. You’ll also find the estimated annual operating cost and estimated annual energy usage. These estimates are based on national averages for cost and usage.
  • The Energy Star logo will be displayed at the bottom for products that meet stringent efficiency ratings, offer advanced features, and better service than other models.

Cost Analysis

The first cost of any product is the sticker price, sales tax, and any other cost at the point of sale. The lifetime cost of any product is the true investment. For example, the lifetime cost of a high-efficiency heat pump is based on the sum of the first cost, estimated operating cost for life, and the estimated maintenance and repair cost for life. With this cost analysis, you can make a more informed choice for real value.

When you’re ready to install HVAC equipment in your Greater San Diego home, use the information from your EnergyGuide label and contact the pros at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How to Take Care of Your Windows

How to Take Care of Your WindowsWhen you think about your windows, you probably appreciate the light they bring in and the glimpses of the outdoors they give you. Most likely, you don’t picture them with energy dollars flying out. However, if your windows aren’t properly maintained, that’s exactly what could be happening.

If you think about it, a window is basically a hole in the wall with glass in it. Holes let air in and out, and glass does nothing to stop heat from moving where it isn’t wanted. That doesn’t mean windows are bad to have in your home. It just means that you have to be smart about maintaining them.

For example, if you live in an old home that has never had the windows replaced, there is a chance that new, energy-efficient windows might return some or all of their cost to you in energy savings. Even if you are not interested in replacing your windows, you have several options for making your current windows more energy efficient.

  • Install storm windows. When properly installed, storm windows are good for stopping air transfer from outside to inside.You have many options when it comes to storm windows, making it likely that you can find something that fits what you need.
  • Hang curtains or other window treatments. Although curtains and blinds aren’t very useful for stopping air flow, they are good at blocking heat from transferring in during the summer or out during the winter.
  • Caulk air leaks. Perhaps one of the least expensive but most effective solutions, caulking your window frames to stop air leaks can do wonders for your energy bill. Since caulk can shrink or crumble, make sure to check it periodically and reapply as needed.
  • Add weatherstripping. If you have any openable windows, even if you don’t typically open them, apply weatherstripping to create a seal when they’re closed.
  • Shade your windows. Awning provides shade that will keep down heat transfer in the summer. Bushes or trees can have a similar benefit.

Do you want more energy saving tips for your San Diego area home? Contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Setting the Record Straight on Myths About Saving Energy

Setting the Record Straight on Myths About Saving EnergyCommon energy-saving myths can lead you to waste energy unnecessarily. Even in the mild San Diego climate, that can mean higher cooling and heating bills. Understanding these myths will help you avoid this.

Myth: Closed air registers save energy.
Closing air registers in unused rooms does nothing to reduce the demand on your A/C or furnace and therefore doesn’t save energy. This misguided technique only creates a pressure imbalance in your heating and cooling system that can damage the components.

Myth: Ceiling fans reduce the air temperature.
Fans cool your body by blowing air over your skin, but they have no effect on the ambient air temperature. When you’ll be out of the room for more than a few minutes, turn off the fan to save energy.

Myth: Raising your thermostat temperature heats your house faster.
Your thermostat temperature doesn’t change how fast your system heats or cools. It will only cause your system to run longer, ultimately wasting energy. If you want your home to be a specific temperature at a certain time, install a smart programmable thermostat.

Myth: Drafty windows should be replaced.
If your windows are drafty, use caulk and weatherstripping to block the air leaks around them. This alone can reduce your home’s cooling and heating bills by 10 to 15 percent.

Myth: It’s cheaper to maintain a stable indoor temperature than to heat up a cold house.
This is one of the most costly energy-saving myths around. In reality, you’ll use less energy by turning your furnace or A/C off or to a more economical temperature while you’re out than by leaving it on all day.

Myth: It’s cheaper to let electronics run than to turn them on and off.
Turning off electronics when you’re not using them is nearly always more economical. Place groups of electronics, such as your entertainment center, on a power strip so you can turn the whole group off with one switch.

For more help avoiding energy-saving myths, contact us at Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning in the San Diego, La Costa, and Oceanside area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Make the Most of Your Thermostat this Season


Make the Most of Your Thermostat this Season
When the seasons change, so do your home comfort needs. As you change your furnace filter and schedule your furnace check up for the fall, don’t forget to reset your programmable thermostat. Your programmable thermostat can be one of your best tools to lower your energy bills, if it is used effectively.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Thermostat

Fall is an excellent time to reevaluate your needs and ensure that your thermostat is set as efficiently as possible. Here are some tips to help.

  • Readjust for cooler weather – When running your air conditioner in the summer, you want a higher thermostat temperature. In the fall, when your furnace kicks in, drop the temperature and add more layers of clothing for your comfort. A temperature around 70 degrees is great for fall.
  • Set back for nighttime – You can drop the temperature as much as eight degrees at night and still feel comfortable while sleeping, so use your programmable thermostat accordingly.
  • Set back when you are at work – Again, by dropping the temperature on the programmable thermostat seven to 10 degrees while you are at work, you can save significantly on your heating costs.
  • Avoid overcompensating – If you need to adjust the temperature because you come home unexpectedly, set it to your comfort point, not higher. A higher temperature will not warm the home more quickly, but it will drive up energy bills.

As you consider options to drop your energy bills this fall in your San Diego home, consider getting the help of a professional HVAC company. Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning has a team of HVAC contractors who can help you maximize your home’s energy efficiency this fall.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Learn Why to Buy HVAC Products With the Energy Star Logo

Learn Why to Buy HVAC Products With the Energy Star LogoYour choice of HVAC products makes an impact on your comfort and energy budget for years to come. Opting for those that carry the Energy Star logo covers both dependable comfort and lower monthly cooling or heating bills.

What Is Energy Star?

The Energy Star program has been active for more than two decades and it has helped millions of consumers quickly identify products designed to use less energy. When you’re in the market for an HVAC system replacement, the logo helps you select those that will save energy

All HVAC equipment must undergo laboratory testing to measure its overall energy usage. Manufacturers submit applications for equipment that meets the efficiency standards for the Energy Star program to the U.S. Department of Energy for their approval, which they grant if:

  • The system works equally well under different climatic conditions.
  • Consumers will recoup any extra cost associated with the equipment in lower energy bills within a reasonable time period.
  • The features or components that contribute to exceptional energy savings are something that most consumers want and find beneficial.
  • The energy savings are measurable and verifiable.

How You Benefit

On a household basis, more efficient systems with the Energy Star logo will lower energy bills, helping you save money without reducing home comfort. Although there are many more variables associated with system installation and ongoing maintenance, high efficiency HVAC equipment also tends to last longer. The components that achieve better efficiency often are better quality and the systems embed more efficient engineering designs. Longer lasting equipment saves the cost of system replacement and reduces the demand for raw materials.

You may also qualify for incentives from utility providers and governmental jurisdictions for choosing an Energy Star system to help offset your investment in a new system. High efficiency HVAC equipment qualifies for the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program that offers advantageous financing programs for homeowners who upgrade their homes or systems.

To learn more about choosing HVAC products with the Energy Star logo, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning, providing trusted HVAC services for North County homeowners since 2002.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Auto Versus Fan On: Learn Which Way Is Best for Setting Your Thermostat

Auto Versus Fan On: Learn Which Way Is Best for Setting Your ThermostatHave you ever noticed that your thermostat features both an “on” and “auto” setting? Do you know when to use them? These two fan settings are points of confusion for many, so let’s have a look at each.

The Difference Between “On” and “Auto”

Setting your thermostat to “auto” makes the fan run only when your home’s air is being heated or cooled. Once your home reaches the desired temperature, it stops. The “on” setting means the fan runs 24/7, whether your indoor air is being heated or cooled, or not.

Why Use the “On” Setting?

The main advantage of the “on” setting is that it improves indoor air quality. Your home’s air is constantly cycled through the air filter, removing more airborne particles. The setting distributes conditioned air more evenly, and the fan lasts longer due to less frequent starts and stops.

A major disadvantage of this setting is that it always uses energy, increasing your monthly energy expenses. In winter when your furnace is off, cold air comes through the vents, making you uncomfortable. The setting also increases moisture levels in the indoor air as a significant amount of the moisture captured by your A/C unit is blown back into your home. The air filter will also need to be changed more often due to constant filtration and the threat of clogging.

Why Use the “Auto” Setting?

The primary advantage of the “auto” setting? Less energy is used because the fan doesn’t run continuously, which makes the air filter last longer as well. The “auto” setting also dehumidifies the air better because moisture captured drains outside when the fan cycles off.

The “auto” setting does have a few disadvantages. It causes less even distribution of conditioned air, and its multiple starts and stops make the fan wear out over time.

If you have more questions about setting your thermostat, contact Sherlock Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve San Diego County and southern Riverside County.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Here’s What You Need to Know About the EnergyGuide Label

Here's What You Need to Know About the EnergyGuide LabelWhen shopping for appliances, you’ve probably seen a bright yellow label with “EnergyGuide” at the top. The information on the label tells the consumer how much energy the appliance uses so it can be compared to other models for efficiency and cost of operation. EnergyGuide labels help homeowners buying water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, dishwashers, clothes washers and heat pumps save on utility bills while also reducing their consumption of natural resources.

The EnergyGuide Label 

Not all EnergyGuide labels are the same, but here’s the basic format you’ll find on most of them:

  • On the top left under the EnergyGuide header,  you’ll find the type and key features of the appliance. Other models with these features can also be operated within the range of operating costs, which is listed in the mid-section of the label. The model, manufacturer and size are listed on the right under the header.
  • Also located in the middle in large, bold type is the average annual cost to run the appliance, based on the appliance’s electricity use and national average cost of electricity. This figure helps you compare the appliance’s average operating cost against other similar models.
  • In the lower third of the label is an estimate in kilowatt hours of how much energy on average the appliance uses annually. Multiplying this figure by the local electricity rate on your energy bill can give you a close approximation of what the bill will be.

If the Energy Star logo is included on the label, it means the appliance meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for efficient energy use.

Appliances with updated energy efficiency tests are indicated by bright yellow numbers against a black background. Be sure to compare labels with numbers in the same colors.

For more on the EnergyGuide label, contact Sherlock Heating and Air Conditioning. We proudly serve the San Diego area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater San Diego and San Marcos, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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