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Bay Area Heating, Plumbing & Air Conditioning Since 1974

Stewart's Comfort Tips

Stewart Heating & Air Conditioning is a Bay area HVAC contractor who provides industry leading heating & air solutions. We're a Bryant® Factory Authorized Dealer, a BBB A+ business and we care about your comfort!
Stewart's Comfort Tips
Is Your Home at the Center of an Energy-Loss Vortex?

April 13, 2017
Energy Audit

That's not quite as far-fetched as it seems. See, your home comfort system worked very hard to keep you cozy all Winter. Now with Summer around the corner, you sure don't want system wear and tear to create a black hole in your wallet. I think we all know how expensive space programs can be!

The good news?

The positive consequences of saving energy are undeniable: it reduces air pollution while reducing the cost of your energy bills.

But when some people hear the phrase "saving energy," they think drastic measures - turning back time, living ruggedly and abandoning modern conveniences. Without going that far, you can take many steps to keep energy bills from soaring while also doing your part to protect the environment. These include:

Install occupant sensors on lighting. Intended to detect activity within a certain area, they turn lights on automatically when someone enters a room, and reduce energy use by turning environment. These include:


Making the Case When Your Furnace Doesn’t Make the Grade

February 15, 2017
Hybrid Heating

Have You Heard about Hybrid Heating?

I am sure you are well aware that energy prices are increasing at an astonishing rate, even to the point where we are paying 64% more in energy costs now than we were just 5 years ago. That is just plain jaw-dropping.

As gas prices continue to fluctuate wildly (mostly up, but sometimes just a touch down, then up again), more and more people are trading in their gas-guzzling cars for hybrids. Thankfully, the same technology that allows the hybrid cars to get amazingly good gas mileage (and save their owners tons of money in the process) can now be applied to our home heating systems.

How It Works…

A Hybrid Heating system works much the same way as a hybrid vehicle; it uses two heat sources to warm your home. The first heat source is a heat pump that draws in heat from outside your home when the weather is mild. The upside to this, of course, is that heat outside your home is free. “Free” for now, I suppose. I guess someone could always come along and figure out a way to charge for that too.

Once a “break-even” point is reached, the furnace will automatically switch itself to gas heat to continue the process of warming your home. You will never even know this is happening. It is a silent and seamless transition. The only time you will notice a change is when you receive your first utility bill and it is significantly less while your home is still as warm and toasty as you like it to be.

If you are wondering if a Hybrid Heating system is right for you, call us today at 925-203-9141 or click here to schedule a FREE Energy Analysis for your heating system.


Making the Case When Your Furnace Doesn’t Make the Grade

January 18, 2017
Cost of Your Home Heating

It’s a common question for a common experience. When your home heating system is getting past its prime, when you find that your comfort isn’t what it used to be, when energy bills appear higher than they should be and when you’ve had to call for repairs on multiple occasions… that’s the time homeowners ask, “Should I replace my furnace? Or should I shell out more for repairs?”

Your home comfort system is a significant part of your home – not just representing a portion of your overall investment, but also claiming about half of your energy costs each month. So, the equipment itself as well as its operational efficiency are integral to your family finances.

When making the case for replacement rather than repair, what should you consider? Energy Star, a program of the federal government, suggests that you first take into consideration the age of your equipment.

If your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, or if your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old, that’s the time to consider replacing your system with home comfort equipment that has earned the Energy Star label. High efficiency heat pumps can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs over the units they replace. Energy Star-qualified furnaces are 15% more efficient than conventional furnaces. Or, if you have a boiler, consider replacing it with an ENERGY STAR qualified boiler that is 5% more efficient than a new, standard model.

What else should you consider?

Let us help you get a complete picture of energy use in your home. Schedule your free energy analysis today. Just call or email, and we’ll take care of you.


"Wait and See" Doesn't Really Work...

December 13, 2016
Cost of Your Home Heating

Many people get stuck in a limbo of sorts. They are not sure if their furnace just needs a tune-up, some minor repairs or needs to be replaced altogether. They are so worried about paying too much for something or being talked into buying something they don't really need that they do nothing at all and go with a "wait and see" approach.

This is the perfect time of year to take control of your heating system to ensure you will have nothing to be concerned about (at least, inside your home) when the really cold weather strikes. The "in-between" months are when great deals are offered because once the cold weather sets in, there is really no reason to discount something that can be easily sold at full price.

Don't Whine... Prevent!

Waiting until your furnace dies or is on the brink of death leaves you with nothing but problems. Not only does it leave you, your home and your family freezing until a new furnace can be installed, it also leaves you paying full price for a new furnace so there are no up-front savings. If you purchase a new furnace before the "busy season," there are all kinds of deals to be had.

The first thing you should do is have a heating comfort and energy analysis done on your system. Find out how old it is, what condition it is in, how much energy it consumes while producing heat and what likely repairs or problems will pop up this year. This analysis will give you the answers to questions you did not even know you had.

Once you have verified that it makes sense to replace your old system with a new energy efficient system, find out what warranties are available. Right now, you can get a complete 5-year parts and labor warranty on your new system, meaning you won't spend a penny to repair your new system for 5 years.

The additional bonus of having a new system is the money you save on energy costs each month. Saving money on utilities is never a bad thing. Get started today preventing any cold moments inside your house with a Free In-Home Energy Analysis on your heating system.


Predicting the Cost of Your Home Heating

November 15, 2016
Cost of Your Home Heating

Calculating the cost of energy to run our homes seems like such a mystery at times. But what would you expect from an industry that issues something called a "Market Prices and Uncertainty Report"? That's one of the publications the federal government creates about the outlook for energy prices (though it's hard to imagine other business sectors touting "uncertainty" as if it's a given).

So what's ahead for natural gas prices this winter and how will it affect the homes around here that depend on this source for their cold-weather heating comfort?

Trying for an uncomplicated explanation here... basically, the cost to heat your home is going to be affected by how much natural gas folks "think" will get used (that's called a usage prediction). Plus, how much natural gas they "think" will be needed. That's called a demand forecast. Plus, what's available now (that's the inventory).

There's also a little factor called "speculation," which is when investors bet on the price energy will reach in the future. And you add to that one more unpredictable factor called "the weather."

That very frigid winter we "enjoyed" last time hit the inventories pretty heavily. Plus, Mideast unrest always causes concerns about oil exports. So there's much about energy costs that we cannot control. But here's the other side of the equation:

There's a LOT we can do about the energy efficiency of the systems that run your home, thus providing you savings on energy all season long.

If you'd like to learn how to beat the high natural gas prices, you can start with an analysis of the current energy usage in your home. We can do that for you free; just let us know you'd like to get that survey.

Replacing an old energy guzzler with a new, highly efficient model can save 20% over last year's energy usage - and that's just one of the perks ahead when you're ready to make a change. In fact, you'll find that a very generous trade-in allowance, super-long guarantees and extra convenient financing will make your upgrade decision very easy. Want to learn more? Just click this link:

Get a free energy survey analysis and see if a new system is your best bet for continued comfort.


How to Avoid Lessons Learned the Hard Way

October 14, 2016
Get at Least $303 of Smart Home Value

The Cost of Neglecting Your Home Comfort System

Looking at cost is more than seeing a price tag. Take the annual tune-ups for your heating equipment. If you apply a small percentage of the value of the equipment in routine annual maintenance, your investment reduces your energy expenses, saves on repairs and takes care of you longer.

That’s a pretty sweet deal.

However, if you neglect to routinely take care of your furnace, you incur issues both seen and unseen that can cause breakdowns, waste energy and develop potentially dangerous problems for you and your family. Here are just a few areas where neglect can prove so costly. 

Energy use increases. When dirt clogs your system, it has to work harder to keep you warm. Less efficiency means higher operating costs. In fact, energy experts say that your energy costs can be reduced by 30 to 35 percent when heating equipment is serviced regularly and properly maintained.

Equipment life is shortened. With all that dirt and grime causing efficiency problems, your system is running longer and more often. Thus, the parts feel the pressure, and they’ll wear out sooner. Even a small problem that goes undetected for a long period of time can lead to an earlier than normal system failure – or cause breakdowns with big repair bills.

Preserving your manufacturer’s warranty. Heating and cooling systems are big-ticket home improvements that come with long-term warranties. But many of these warranties require routine maintenance to keep them in effect. Don’t risk losing your warranty due to neglect.

Protecting your family’s safety. This may be the last “cost” in this list, but certainly ranks highest in what matters most. An unmaintained system can put you at risk of a deadly carbon monoxide leak. Loose electrical connections in an unmaintained system can also create a fire hazard. Neither are worth the risk of neglecting routine maintenance.

If you’d like to schedule a tune-up, we’d be honored to have you trust your system to us. Let us hear from you.


How to Avoid Lessons Learned the Hard Way

September 14, 2016

If, as heating and air professionals, we could persuade homeowners to avoid one major outcome, it would be this: take care of your home comfort system equipment so that you don’t have to replace it earlier than necessary.

Heating and cooling systems are sizeable investments for any size home, and they have a direct impact on roughly half of your energy bills each year. The measures homeowners take to preserve the life of their equipment can enable it to last years longer – helping you to prevent a costly expenditure before the recommended time.

In addition, routine preventive maintenance also maintains your system’s energy efficiency, helping you to hold down monthly energy bills. Keeping your system running at peak efficiency is critical to conserving energy use. Routine maintenance also allows a professional technician to discover the occurrence of indoor air quality problems that can prove very harmful to your family – especially carbon monoxide leaks.

And there’s another valid reason homeowners are wise to schedule preventive maintenance. Some will say it’s “not needed” because their system is “under warranty.” However, if a manufacturer determines that neglect of maintenance was the cause of the problem and contributed to the equipment’s failure, the warranty may not cover the repair. This makes sense when you consider that auto manufacturers expect their vehicle owners to routinely change the oil in order to keep their warranties in force.

Given the benefits of preventive maintenance, some still learn the lesson the hard way, however. And here’s why many people choose to ignore free advice that can end up costing them a great deal more: human nature.

Most of us react to problems instead of proactively prevent them. At our shop, we see this evidence in untimely repair calls that reveal a simple truth: preventive maintenance could have kept the system running problem-free.

If you’d like to avoid the mistake of “wait and see,” we’ll be happy to take care of your preventive maintenance right away. Schedule your tune-up today.

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