Energy Efficiency Tips from Brody Pennell

Many homeowners spend a significant amount of time thinking about how to save money on home costs throughout the year. Your heating and cooling system contributes to a big part of your home spending. That’s why it’s vital that you look for ways to increase your energy efficiency to decrease your total costs. With a little planning and some small changes to your habits, you can be on your way to saving more energy (and money) in no time. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our best tips on energy efficiency from our top blog articles.

Los Angeles Energy Efficiency Tips

Want to cut costs while saving the planet? Here are some of our favorite energy-saving tips from past blogs that you can use to reduce your energy usage and lower your monthly costs:

  1. Use a ceiling fan to help circulate cool air through your home.

Many homeowners feel like they have to choose between their ceiling fan and AC. Though the ceiling fan certainly uses far less energy than the air conditioner, it does not always keep you comfortable. In Energy Efficiency: Using Fans vs. Lowering the A/C, we take a look at how homeowners can use their ceiling fan and AC together to keep their home cool and comfortable while saving a significant amount of energy.

  1. Weatherproof your home.

Does your home ever feel drafty? Warm or cool air may be leaking out of cracks around your doors, windows, and air ducts, which makes it harder for your HVAC system to keep your home comfortable. Weatherproofing your home can help you find and eliminate these air leaks that waste energy and cost you money. Want more simple tips like this? We’ve got an infographic for that. Check out 6 Simple Tips for Saving Energy (And Money Too!) for more easy ways to save energy and cut down on monthly home costs.

  1. Invest in an energy-efficient furnace.

Your heater uses a lot of energy while keeping your home warm and comfortable during the colder months. By investing in a more energy-efficient furnace, you can heat your home without wasting energy or money. To learn more about furnace efficiency ratings and what they can mean for your monthly energy costs, take a look at our article, What are the Ratings for Furnace Efficiency? This is a great read for anyone that is thinking about replacing their furnace this year.

  1. Make sure that your HVAC system coils are clean.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, dirty evaporator coils can increase your compressor’s energy consumption by about 30 percent. These dirty coils decrease airflow, which in turn decreases the efficiency of your system. That’s why it is vital to have your HVAC system’s condenser and evaporator coils inspected and cleaned annually. For more great tips like these, check out Going Green While Saving Green: How to Increase Energy Efficiency and Lower HVAC Costs.

  1. Purchase a start thermostat.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the smart thermostat. This device allows you to control your home temperature remotely from your smartphone or mobile device, and the system even gets to know your habits so that it can automatically adjust your home environment to your ideal home comfort settings. But did you know that this innovative piece of home technology can actually help you save energy and cut down on monthly heating and cooling costs? We explain all of this and more in What is a Smart Thermostat, Anyway? If you have been considering a smart thermostat, this is a must-read.

Want to learn more about energy efficiency, home improvement, and HVAC? Be sure to check out our blog each month for more great content. While you’re at it, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ so that you never miss an update from Brody Pennell.

HVAC Hacks: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do Yourself

Tempted to Hack Your HVAC Repair?

You’re handy around the house. You’ve stained some kitchen cabinets, repaired a few leaky faucets, and maybe even built a deck. You’re that homeowner. Now that your HVAC system is in need of a repair, you’re probably thinking “hey, why not?” Maybe, you’ve even considered replacing the system entirely – no technician needed. You’ve seen a few YouTube videos, plus you knew someone who did it and it went alright.

Slow down. DIY HVAC repair is dangerous and the consequences could include your family’s safety, your own safety, the condition of your system and your home, and the financial burden of a job done wrong.

DIY? Don’t!

HVAC service technicians are highly trained and licensed – there are years of schooling, tests, and ongoing trainings required to be an HVAC tech and maintain licensure. You would never walk into an operating room and feel qualified to perform surgery. This is hardly different! Your heating and cooling systems have dangerous components, require the use of electricity, and have dire consequences if installed improperly. Plus, only certified technicians should handle some of the equipment and materials required to perform repairs.

What could go wrong?

Electrocution

HVAC system installation and repairs can require interaction with high voltage electricity. By handling this poorly, you could blow a fuse in your home or worse, electrocute yourself.

Chemical Contamination

Refrigerant is a chemical used to keep your air conditioning system functioning. This chemical compound is cold enough to burn your skin and can be deadly if inhaled or handled poorly. Not only does refrigerant misuse put you at risk when performing repairs, but it also endangers everyone inside your home, as it could cause a gas leak.

One more thing, the EPA requires 608 certification for anyone who handles refrigerant. If you don’t have the certification, you are putting your life in danger.

Being Ill-Equipped

Equipping yourself with the right tools is essential. This will require more than what you’ve got stored in your toolbox or out in the shop. In fact, there are special gauges and tools that are required specifically for the HVAC industry including those that measure refrigerant gas leaks and other MAJOR issues. Failure to procure and properly use this equipment will result in major risks to your health and safety, as well as to the integrity of your system.

Fixing Your Mistakes Will Only Cost More!

With incorrect handling, your faulty system repair may not only need to be redone by a professional – which could cost more than it would have to rectify any problems your repair has caused. Also, the mistakes you make could compromise other components of the system which will then need to be repaired or replaced as well. Surely, you can see the HVAC bills piling up. It’s better to handle the problem with a professional from the very start.

HVAC DIYs You CAN Do

The desire to be involved in all aspects of home ownership and maintenance is a noble one. In fact, there are things you should be involved in, as a dedicated homeowner, to help your HVAC technician care for your system in between visits.

Swap your batteries: Your thermostat and your smoke & carbon monoxide detectors operate on batteries – swap these out regularly to ensure that your system and air quality are being monitored properly.

Swap your filters. Nearly all heating & air conditioning systems have filters to help manage debris and keep your air clean. If you’re not sure where your system’s filters are located, how to switch them, or which ones you need to buy, consult your Owner’s Manual.

For more information on HVAC system maintenance – both routine and repair – contact Brody Pennell Heating & Air today!

Prolong the Life of Your Heating and Cooling System with an HVAC Maintenance Plan

Have you ever heard the phrase, “prevention is the best medicine”? Well, the same is true for your HVAC system. Just like your vehicle needs a regular oil change and routine inspection, your HVAC system needs to be inspected, cleaned, and lubricated at least once a year. A maintenance agreement makes this process easy and hassle free, helping you keep your air conditioning and heating system well maintained and working efficiently throughout the year. Below, we’ll discuss how a Maintenance Agreement from Brody Pennell can benefit you as a homeowner.

Benefits of a Maintenance Agreement from Brody Pennell

Regularly maintaining your system is an important part of keeping your air conditioner and heater running smoothly. During regular maintenance visits, your HVAC technician can identify wear and tear or small repair needs early before they become more expensive problems. Not only does this reduce the risk of major breakdowns and malfunctions, but it also ensures that your system is running efficiently, which can help you save money on energy costs while also getting the most life out of your HVAC system.

With a maintenance agreement, Brody Pennell customers are also able to easily maintain and validate manufacturer’s warranties on their heating and cooling equipment. In addition, this maintenance agreement includes warranties on all parts, labor, and repairs completed under the agreement for 12 months.

In the end, one of the greatest benefits that the maintenance agreement can offer is convenience. Homeowners no longer have to worry about maintaining their HVAC system or whether or not their system needs repairs. The maintenance agreement offers improved comfort and reliability as a trained HVAC technician from Brody Pennell is inspecting your system to ensure that it’s working properly and efficiently. Yet another convenience that the agreement offers is extended appointment times that better fit your schedule.

Maintenance Agreement Specials

In addition to saving money through improved efficiency, reduced costly breakdowns, and longer equipment life, homeowners can also save money on HVAC repairs and products with the maintenance agreement. Brody Pennell offers the following specials to customers who have an agreement:

  • 10% discount on heating and air conditioning repairs
  • 10% discount on heating and cooling equipment
  • 10% discount on air quality accessories such as air cleaners, humidifiers, duct cleaning, and more

This is just another added benefit that the maintenance agreement offers Los Angeles homeowners. Though it is hard to say that any benefit compares to the peace of mind that homeowners get in knowing that a Brody Pennell certified technician is only a phone call away to help keep their families comfortable year-round.

Contact us today if you are interested in saving time and money with our maintenance agreements.

Going Green While Saving Green: How to Increase Energy Efficiency and Lower HVAC Costs

Today it seems like there are so many green products on the market, it may be hard to determine which environmentally-friendly products are right for you and your family. But you don’t have to be an environmentalist to see that increasing energy efficiency is both beneficial to the environment and your wallet. When it comes to your HVAC system, there are a few ways that you can increase efficiency while saving money in the long run.

How to Increase Energy Efficiency and Lower HVAC Costs

There are many simple steps that you can take right now to help increase your energy efficiency and lower HVAC costs. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to making your heating and cooling unit run smoother and more efficiently while also preventing unnecessary wear and tear to your HVAC system:

  1. Change your air filter regularly.

This is one of the easiest things that business and homeowners can do to improve the energy efficiency of their HVAC system. Yet so many people forget to change the air filter on a regular basis. A dirty or clogged filter slows down air flow, making your HVAC system work harder than it needs to when heating or cooling your home or office building. This wastes energy and can also lead to costly maintenance as dust and dirt builds up within the system.

  1. Make sure your heating and cooling ducts are properly sealed and insulated.

Ducts move air to and from your central air conditioner or forced air furnace. When there are cracks or air leaks in your duct system, this can become a real energy waster. By sealing and insulating ducts that run through the attic, garage, and other crawl spaces, you can help cut down on energy loss. In fact, according to Energy Star, sealing and insulating your air ducts can improve HVAC energy-efficiency by as much as 20 percent.

  1. Make sure that your HVAC system coils are clean.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a dirty evaporator coil decreases airflow, which can cause an increase in compressor energy consumption by about 30 percent. That is why it is important to have your home or building’s HVAC system condenser and evaporator coils inspected and cleaned each year. Not only will this help improve efficiency, but it can help prolong the life of the unit, saving you even more money over time.

  1. Get an annual HVAC tune-up from a professional technician.

All homeowners should get an HVAC tune-up once a year from a qualified HVAC technician. Studies show that effective HVAC preventative maintenance can cut energy costs by 5 to 40 percent depending on the system and equipment in your home. Not to mention regular maintenance can also extend the life of the equipment and improve its ability to keep your home comfortable throughout the year.

If you would like more information on how you can increase energy efficiency, contact the HVAC experts at Brody Pennell today. We would love to discuss all of your home comfort options with you from new energy-efficient HVAC systems to affordable upgrades.

Improving the Performance of Your HVAC System Over Time

HVAC systems are complex, expensive systems to replace. Luckily, homeowners can take steps to get more out of their existing systems. With proper care and maintenance, many homeowners can extend the lives of their systems years beyond the average life expectancy. Here’s what you need to know.

The Average Life of an HVAC System

Central heating and air-conditioning systems should last for years. With typical care and use, most systems will last 15 to 20 years. However, many homeowners can increase that time by several years if they follow industry-recommended maintenance schedules and invest in high-quality products as needed.

Keeping Your HVAC System Maintained

Investing time and money in maintenance tasks can improve your system’s performance, improve energy savings, and extend the life expectancy of your current unit.

Invest in a Yearly Tune-Up

See if your local HVAC service provider offers any deals for customers who maintain an annual tune-up appointment. Your equipment will require regular support over its lifetime (just like a car or a tractor), and a trusted HVAC professional can serve as an invaluable, money-saving resource for maintenance, repairs, and replacement services.

Change the Air Filter

Follow the recommended guidelines for changing the air filter in your unit. Pay attention to the level of dust and debris captured in each filter to determine if you need to change the filter more frequently. Keeping up with air filter changes will improve the overall air quality and prevent dust and other allergens from building up in the air and causing health and operational issues.

Invest in Energy-Efficient Products

If you need to replace any component within your system, look for products with efficiency ratings from EnergyStar, MERV, and other industry guidelines. Choosing high-quality energy-efficient products allows your system to perform at its peak level for longer periods.

Ask for Professional Installations

An improperly installed system or component may cause problems down the road. Always work with an HVAC professional to ensure your system receives the best installation and service over time.

Switch to a Modern Thermostat

A programmable or smart thermostat allows users to maintain energy-efficient settings throughout the year. Use programmed settings or remote capabilities to manage your system regardless of your presence at home.

Do Not Block Air Vents

Heating and air-conditioning systems need a balance of incoming and outgoing air. Do not place boxes, wall hangings, or rugs on top of air vents to prevent the accumulation of particles and the risk of mold.

The Right Service Provider for Your HVAC System

In addition to routine maintenance, owners of long-lasting HVAC systems don’t hesitate to contact a trusted heating and air conditioning service provider. You may be able to perform some maintenance and repair tasks yourself, but a professional has the knowledge and equipment to handle significant repairs and replacements. Maintain a strong relationship with an HVAC provider to make the most of every maintenance call and installation.

We would love to help you keep your HVAC system maintained in the long term. Please contact us with any questions or to schedule a service appointment with one of our experienced HVAC technicians.

Why You Need An HVAC Commission

One of the most important systems in your newly constructed home is the HVAC system. It will keep your home’s temperature regulated and, when commissioned and installed appropriately, save energy and keep your home environmentally friendly. If you need to commission an HVAC system but aren’t sure where to begin, let Brody Pennell help.

HVAC Commission

What Is HVAC Commissioning?

Simply put, HVAC commissioning is the thorough testing of your HVAC system’s performance. Although you are paying a contractor to build and install an HVAC system, there is no guarantee it will work perfectly after installation. To ensure it does, it’s best to have the system tested before, during, and after the building process. Commissioning saves homeowners money on maintenance costs, as well as the time it would take to repair or even replace an HVAC system. Commissioning also alerts you to potential problems before they happen, such as a system that’s prone to overheating.

Do I Need An HVAC Commission?

Many homeowners are unsure whether HVAC commissioning is necessary and are leery of spending money on one. However, you should commission any mechanical system in your new home, including the HVAC system.

Commissioning will make it easier to upgrade your HVAC system when needed. For example, if you live in a naturally hot area, you may need to upgrade chillers sooner than you estimated. Boilers, pumps, and heat exchangers may undergo wear and tear during harsh weather, leading to expensive repairs. An HVAC commission will ensure that your system has all the proper equipment when it is installed and that it all works at optimum levels.

Who Will Perform My Commission?

Usually the contractor who installed your system will be the same person who commissions it. If the contractor is unwilling or unable to do this, you must find a reputable commissioning agent immediately. During a commission, the contractor or other agent will simulate different operating conditions to test how well the system works and alert you to possible problems. Commissioning ensures these problems are fixed during installation, not left until the last minute or ignored until the project is complete and the contractor has already left.

During an HVAC commission, your contractor will mount and secure your HVAC box and ensure all controls are accessible. He or she will check each part of the system, such as fan belts, motors, coils, and piping to be sure they are installed properly and do not have wear and tear that might prevent them from working.

The contractor will check to see all system parts such as unit supply fans, dampers, and valves respond on command, and that start and stop times are programmed into the HVAC system properly. If any problems occur, the contractor will isolate the issue and devote time to it until it is resolved.

Learn More About HVAC Commissioning

If you wish to learn more about HVAC commissioning or want to schedule one, please call Brody Pennell or visit us online. Our associates are well versed in commissioning and will walk you through each step of the process.

 

How Cogeneration Impacts HVAC Systems

Saving energy is a major topic in the HVAC industry. Although the American economy is recovering, the process is slow, and for consumers and businesses, saving energy means saving time and money. However, HVAC systems often use massive amounts of energy, which naturally translates into larger energy bills for home and business owners. HVAC experts are finding cogeneration may be the answer to this issue.

What Is Cogeneration?

Cogeneration, otherwise known as combined heat and power (CHP), uses a power station or heat engine to create useable electricity and heat simultaneously. When an HVAC system generates electricity, it also generates heat. This keeps the home or business warm in fall and winter, but that energy is often wasted during spring and summer. Even during colder seasons, extra heat is siphoned into the environment, causing wasted energy. Cogeneration captures leftover heat and “recycles” it.

How The Heat Is Used

In cogeneration, the “waste heat” from an HVAC system is used to heat water, and offsets greenhouse gas emissions and fuel that would otherwise be burned away. This keeps the HVAC system from overheating or breaking down. Over time, such use saves significant time and money in terms of repairs and replacements. The longer an HVAC system lasts, the more energy it can create and the cleaner and safer its surrounding environment will be.

Cogeneration Cuts Costs

Additionally, cogeneration decreases the overall need for electricity. An HVAC system that uses CHP will use about 50% less electricity than systems that do not. As a result, home and business owners can run their HVAC systems for shorter periods, saving energy and keeping the surrounding environment free of pollutants. In addition, home and business owners who use a CHP HVAC system will learn to respond better to natural temperature fluctuations in their buildings. Over time, they may turn to more energy-saving methods of keeping themselves warm or cool, such as using environmentally friendly building materials.

The EPA and other agencies estimate that using a cogeneration HVAC system cuts energy costs and harmful emissions by at least 30-40%. Growing popularity and technological improvements guarantee that increasing numbers of people will use cogeneration systems in the future.

The Growing Popularity Of Cogeneration

Although cogeneration has existed since 1882, our over-reliance on fossil fuels has created a resurgence among home and business owners, especially those who work with HVAC systems. With cogeneration, HVAC systems are now relying more on thermal energy, a cleaner energy source than oil, gas, and other fossil fuels. This decreases air pollution and its many negative consequences, such as the impact of poor air quality on human health.

As the technology behind cogeneration improves, the EPA and other agencies estimate its popularity will only continue to grow. Right now, technological improvements include cost reduction for HVAC systems that use cogeneration, as well as improved environmental control technology. These particular improvements will allow HVAC experts and their customers to adjust individual cogeneration systems to fit their needs and surrounding environments.

Finding An HVAC Dealer in Los Angeles

There are several cogeneration HVAC systems available, so finding the right dealer is crucial. If you are searching for a Los Angeles HVAC dealer, please call Brody Pennell or visit us online. We can further explain the benefits of a cogeneration HVAC system and determine the best system for your particular needs.

Interesting Facts about Los Angeles

From Beverly Hills to Los Angeles you’ll find stars, historical sites and an endless supply of great restaurants. But we have some facts that will blow your mind, check them out and see how many you know. If you’re in need of any HVAC or plumbing services, please feel free to call us anytime for all your HVAC needs.
BrodyPennell Interesting Facts about Los Angeles - Main

Why is Changing My Air Filter so Important?

If you want to save money, avoid expensive HVAC repairs, and have good indoor air quality, changing your air filter should be a regular item on your chore list. It’s much easier than you may think to change out the air filter, and it’s inexpensive too. For all the benefits you get, it just makes sense to change your filter out every few months.

Changing Your Air Filter is Good for Your Health

The air filter attached to your furnace collects particulate matter and prevents it from going into the air you breathe. If you or anyone in your family struggles with allergies or asthma, this is especially important. Having a good, clean filter can reduce the symptoms and breathing difficulties from these conditions. A dirty filter may also collect extra moisture, which encourages the growth of mold.

Keep Your Home Clean with a Quick Filter Change

An overdue filter change can also lead to dust build up in your home. When the filter is dirty it can no longer collect particles from the air and they will start to build up in your ducts and on surfaces in your home. If you allow your ducts to get too dirty, they may need to be professionally cleaned and this is much more expensive than a simple filter change.

A Dirty Air Filter Reduces Efficiency

A clogged up air filter means that air cannot get pushed into the vents as easily. This will cause your system to work extra hard to force the air out and it will no longer be working at maximum efficiency. The efficiency can drop significantly enough from a dirty filter that you will see the extra cost in your monthly energy bills.

Change Your Air Filter to Avoid Damage and Pricey Service Calls

A loss of efficiency is not the only maintenance problem you may see if you never change your air filter. A dirty filter can actually lead to damage. If the filter is dirty enough it can stop air from flowing and cause your entire HVAC system to freeze up. Fuel will still be burning and costing you money, but your home won’t heat.

Changing your air filter regularly is so important for health, cleanliness, efficiency, and to save money. Doing so is easy and inexpensive. If you need to figure out what filter to use or how to change it, contact the professionals at Brody Pennel to help you get started. And follow the Brody Pennel blog for more important information like this.

The Basics About Legionnaires’ Disease And HVAC Systems

Any person who is tasked with the responsibility of taking care of HVAC systems should know about Legionella pneumophila, the bacterium responsible for causing Legionnaires’ Disease. The recent outbreak of the disease has revealed just how little people know about the disease despite the fact that it was discovered decades ago.

 

The History of Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionnaires’ Disease is caused by L. pneumophila bacterium: the same type of microorganism that causes a milder form of Pontiac fever. The disease is a variation of pneumonia, so the symptoms are almost the same. The most common symptoms include; high fever, chills, coughing and aches among others. The first cases of the disease can be traced as far back as the 1960s. However, the disease and bacterium causing it were only named in 1976. This is after 221 participants of the American Legion Convention contracted the disease in Philadelphia. At the time, the origin and pathology of the disease were a mystery. Out of the 221 attendees who contracted the illness, 34 ended up dying, something that created national panic. This panic was partly fueled by government response to the outbreak, which is somewhat similar to the recent government warnings that there’s a possibility of a major outbreak.

 

What Causes an Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease?

L. pneumophila thrives in freestanding warm water, or warm stagnant water. This makes cooling towers in large HVAC systems the best habitat for the microorganism. It is spread to humans through inhalation of moist air that’s contaminated. This means that a large number of people who use a building with a contaminated HVAC system can quickly contract Legionnaires’ Disease. In fact, the 1976 outbreak at the American Legion Conference in Philly was blamed on the hotel’s poorly-maintained HVAC system.

 

Treatment

While Legionnaires’ Disease is treatable, three out of every ten people who contract the disease die from it. According to the CDC, nearly 18,000 cases of the disease are reported every year. The key to dealing with the problem lies in regular servicing of HVAC systems according to industry best practices. Follow us for more articles that your HVAC systems running comfortable and efficiently.