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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
Predicting the Cost of Your Home Heating

November 17, 2017
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

September 26, 2017
Preventative Maintenance

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.

How to Look at Your Energy Use from All Angles
Energy Audit

August 22, 2017

It's funny how the components of your home work together. The walls and roof provide protection. The doors and windows do the same, while also allowing entry and exit as desired. Your electrical system keeps things humming, your plumbing keeps things running and your heating and air conditioning make your living space comfortably livable.

To further illuminate this point: your home is not just one part. Not just one room that sees the most action (like your kitchen). Not even your favorite chair and electronic device. Your home is all parts working together. Or, sometimes, a few parts working against each other.

That's why science is highlighting more and more why energy efficiency should be viewed from a "whole house" approach.

Because your home comfort system accounts for about half of your energy bills, its performance and efficiency certainly go a long way toward keeping those bills lower and your home more comfortable. However, drafty windows and doors and poorly insulated attics will also affect its performance by creating more work for it to do. That's just the beginning in the long list of factors that siphon off energy. But now there's a way to get a more complete picture.

A "whole house energy analysis" takes a look at all the elements that affect your energy usage and shows you how and where improvements can give you better results. Whole house analyses are conducted by professionals who understand how your home operates, when problems can arise and where health and safety concerns can be identified.

These professionals have specialized training and are using technologically advanced infrared thermography. Through this process, the infrared thermography detects unseen air leaks and pinpoints trouble spots, many of which are easily resolved. You receive a list of recommendations that you can choose (or not) to implement ... it's completely up to you.

Together, the recommendations that come from a whole house energy analysis ultimately make your home cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, with lower energy bills all year long.

Let us take a look now to see how well your house is performing. Schedule your whole house energy analysis today.

Why Your Air Conditioning System Needs Prep Work for Summer's Long, Hot Run

May 15, 2017
Hot Summer Ahead

If you've never jogged a mile in your life, how well do you think you'd do in a marathon? Could be a struggle, wouldn't you expect? Maybe some huffing and puffing and conking out before the finish line?

Well, your air conditioning system is about to launch into a serious marathon through the summer months. And unless you want it to huff and puff and conk out before the cool temperatures return, you'd be wise to get your system ready.

Great athletes know that they can't jump into their sport of choice and take home gold medals just when it's convenient. They've got to prepare for the long run. Similarly, your air conditioning system needs some prep work to make sure it's ready for the endurance test it's facing.

After a very cold winter across the country, we're heading into a really hot summer, and you can expect your air conditioning system to see heavy action during the scorching days ahead. Your best bet for preparation is preventive maintenance, which can help you detect potential problems before they occur - while also improving your system's energy efficiency.

Without preventive maintenance, the odds increases that your air conditioning system will lose its strength as it works harder and harder each day. With preventive maintenance, you can save money on energy bills while also helping avoid inconvenient repairs and shortened equipment life.

What does prep work involve? Your check-up checklist will include checking refrigerant levels; inspecting and cleaning coils; checking and tightening electrical connections; oiling parts and motors; checking blowers and grilles for clear air flow; testing and calibrating your thermostat; and changing or cleaning air filters.

Because your systems are sealed for their protection and your safety, only professional service personnel should conduct this thorough annual service. We'd be honored to have you trust your system to us. Let us hear from you.

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.

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