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As energy costs and environmental concerns continue to rise, understanding the Federal Government’s Inflation Reduction Act is crucial to mitigating the effects on your wallet and the planet.

In today’s blog, the heating and cooling experts at Cencal Mechanical will explore everything you need to know about the program – the incentives, credits and green technologies changing the way you heat and cool your home, and ensure a sustainable future.

Cencal Mechanical is the Central Valley’s trusted source for heating and cooling system installation, maintenance and repair, and we’re proud to offer 7 day, quick response service. Contact us today.

Having an energy efficient home could save you money in the long run on energy bills!

What Is The Inflation Reduction Act?

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the largest investment into clean energy we’ve seen yet. The act aims to create jobs and revitalize communities, while lowering energy bills, and increasing our independence from fossil fuels with a renewed focus on green energy.

By 2030 the IRA will provide clean energy to power every home, save the average homeowner $1000 a year on energy bills, and deliver a wide range of incentives and rebates to benefit you and your family.

Impact On Energy Bills

Investing in more efficient HVAC systems not only aligns with California’s robust environmental goals, but also reduces the monthly strain on our wallets! By upgrading, California homeowners can enjoy reduced energy consumption and increased home comfort particularly during the hot summer months on the horizon.

The efficiency of these systems means less energy is wasted, resulting in direct savings for households. On average, California homeowners can save anywhere from 20-40% annually with the installation of a heat pump and other high-efficiency systems.

Heat Pumps are just one energy efficiency upgrade that you could add on to your home.

Energy Efficient Upgrades

Examples of eligible equipment upgrades for your home include:

To learn more about eligible home upgrades from Cencal Mechanical, call our friendly team today!

Next Steps

If you’re interested in taking advantage of all the IRA has to offer contact the experienced team at Cencal Mechanical! Our team has installed thousands of upgrades for California homeowners who want to enjoy an energy-conscious, climate-controlled home.

We’ll conduct a comprehensive energy audit of your home, identifying current issues and areas for improvement. We’ll then provide you with detailed equipment recommendations that qualify for the numerous rebates and incentives offered by the act.

We’re also proud to offer comprehensive financing options, and installation starts as low as $150/month, so call us today!

Trust the experts at Cencal Mechanical for all your preventive maintenance.

The Importance of Regular, Preventative Maintenance

The best way to ensure your new heating and cooling system works efficiently year round is by signing up for Cencal’s exclusive Gold Membership. For a low monthly fee, you’ll get routine maintenance, priority service, special discounts and maintain your unit’s warranty.

When you become a Cencal Mechanical Gold Member you can spend your time making memories with the ones you love, instead of worrying about home comfort. Contact us today to learn more!

The Inflation Reduction Act is a wonderful opportunity for California residents looking to upgrade their heating and cooling systems. With financial incentives aimed at boosting efficiency and sustainable practices, the act not only makes it easier for homeowners to invest in greener technology but also supports their climate goals.

As we continue to move towards a more sustainable future, understanding these opportunities will be crucial to making more informed decisions about home energy use and investments. We can’t wait to see where we go from here!

Frequently Asked Questions about the install process, and warranties that are offered.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does installation take?

No two installations are the same. While most can be completed in one day, the time it takes to install your new high-efficiency system depends greatly on the size and type of equipment and the complexity of your home’s systems. Our experts will do their best to give you an accurate estimate on expected installation timelines during your diagnostic visit.

How long will my new system last?

Your new system will always benefit from regular maintenance, as explained above. And you can expect new equipment to operate normally for at least 10 years, and up to 15 years when well-maintained units. Our installations are always completed with care and designed to maximize each model’s lifespan.

Are there any warranties on new system installation?

We’re proud to offer a 10 year parts warranty on all new HVAC systems. Contact us today to learn more.

AC units have become an essential component of keeping our home comfortable, but make sure it does not become a culprit of compromised air quality for your family.

In this guide, our team at Cencal Mechanical covers some of the most common questions surrounding the indoor air quality of our homes and how it can be affected by your air conditioner.

Table of Contents

  • How Do Air Conditioners Impact Indoor Air Quality?
  • What Are The Common Pollutants and Allergens That Can Be Found in Air Conditioning Systems?
  • How Can You Tell if Your Air Conditioner is Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?
  • What Are the Health Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality Caused By Air Conditioners?
  • How Can You Improve the Indoor Air Quality in Your Home Through Air Conditioning Maintenance?
  • How Can I Choose an Air Conditioner That Promotes Good Indoor Air Quality?
  • How Do You Address Mold and Mildew Problems in Your Air Conditioner?

How Do Air Conditioners Impact Air Quality?

Air Conditioner Units Outside Home

Positive Impacts

  • Filtration System: Many modern air conditioning systems are equipped with air filters that are designed to capture dust, pollen, mold spores, and other types of debris. This helps to enhance air quality by removing airborne pollutants and allergens from inside the home.
  • Humidity Control: Air conditioners often have dehumidifying functions that help control indoor humidity levels. This will help to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Ventilation: Air conditioners have the ability to circulate and filter air throughout the entire indoor space. This consistency helps to prevent stagnant air which minimizes the concentration of allergens or pollutants.

Negative Impacts

  • Condensation & Mold Growth: In some conditions, air conditioners can contribute to moisture buildup (if not properly maintained). Excessive condensation in air ducts or cooling coils creates an environment conducive to mold growth which has the potential for mold spores to be released into the air.
  • Airborne Chemicals: Some AC units, particularly older models, may emit low levels of VOCS (volatile organic compounds). This depends on the type of refrigerant that is used.
  • Inadequate maintenance: Poorly maintained ACs units can circulate pollutants or allergens throughout an entire home. Without regular tune-ups, air conditioners can compromise air quality.

What Are The Common Pollutants and Allergens That Can Be Found in Air Conditioning Systems?

Air conditioning systems can hold on to various pollutants and allergens that can greatly affect the indoor air quality of a home including:

  • Dust: Dust particles can accumulate in air filters, ducts, and coils, leading to reduced system efficiency and the potential release of airborne particles into indoor spaces.
  • Mold & Mildew: The potential for mold and mildew build-up is a possibility when condensation sits within those AC systems. Mold spores can be released into the air and cause respiratory health risks.
  • Bacteria & Viruses: Moist areas are also a site for bacteria and viruses to thrive. Microorganisms may be found inside drip trays or cooling coils which can contribute to bacteria and viruses being circulated in the air.
  • Pollen: Outdoor air filled with pollen can infiltrate an AC unit. Once inside, pollen can collect in filters and ducts which can trigger allergic individuals.
  • Pet Dander: Airborne particles of skin, hair, and saliva, from our pets can also be circulated through the air, especially if homeowners are not changing air filters regularly.
  • VOCs: As mentioned before, VOCs can be emitted by some cooling systems depending on their use of coolant. Prolonged exposure to these can become a health risk.
  • Tobacco Smoke Residue: Residue from tobacco smoke can also accumulate inside an air conditioner and pose a risk to non-smokers. Regular cleaning and maintenance is essential to reduce the presence of these particles.
  • Pesticides & Chemicals: Chemicals found in household cleaning products or pesticides can also be drawn into AC units. Their accumulation can impact the air quality inside the home.

How Can You Tell if Your Air Conditioner is Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality?

Woman Holding Dusty Air Vent

Noticing the impact your air conditioner has on your indoor air quality involves paying attention to various signs and symptoms.

Key indicators include:

  • Unpleasant Odors: Foul or musty smells coming from the air vents may indicate the presence of mold or mildew.
  • Increased Respiratory Issues: If occupants of the home start experiencing an increased, prolonged, or uptick in respiratory issues such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing, or worsened overall allergies, it could be a sign that airborne allergens are circulating the home.
  • Visible Mold Growth: Observing mold growth around air vents, on the walls, or near the AC unit, is a clear sign that mold spores are present. This should be addressed promptly.
  • Dusty/Dirty Air Vents: Accumulation of dust or dirt in or around your air vents could indicate that the system is not effectively filtering air.
  • Inconsistent Cooling or Heating: If your air conditioner is not functioning optimally, it may struggle to regulate temperature and humidity levels. Inefficient cooling or heating can contribute to other conditions outlined above.
  • Excessive Humidity: Noticing condensation on windows, dampness on walls, or a generally clammy feeling, suggests that your air conditioner is not effectively controlling humidity.
  • Lingering Stale Air: A persistent feeling of stale or stuffy air may indicate inadequate ventilation of the indoor space.
  • Increased Dust on Surfaces: If you notice an increase in dust on the surface of items around the home, it could be another sign that your system is not effectively filtering airborne particles.

If you observe any of these signs, it may be time to contact our team to inspect your AC unit and possibly provide a tune-up to keep your system running at top-tier efficiency.

What Are the Health Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality Caused By Air Conditioners?

Poor indoor air quality has a range of potentially adverse health effects and varies depending on the nature of the pollutants paired with the sensitivities of particular individuals. For example, those allergic to pet dander or pollen will feel the impact of poor filtration and ventilation at a higher rate than those without those allergies.

Here are some common health effects associated with poor indoor air quality:

  • Eye, Nose, Throat, & Skin Irritation: Watery eyes, runny noses, scratchy throats, and dry or irritated skin.
  • Respiratory Irritation & Infection: Symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and even full-blown infections caused by bacteria or viruses circulating.
  • Increased Asthma Symptoms: Shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.
  • Aggravation of Allergies: Individuals with allergens may experience enhanced symptoms when inside, particularly those allergic to dust, pollen, mold, or mildew.
  • Headaches & Fatigue: Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue can be present, especially when exposed to VOCs.
  • Mental-Health Impact: Cognitive impairments, contributions to stress, anxiety, and decline in overall well-being.
  • Long-Term Risks: Prolonged exposure to poor indoor air quality can contribute to chronic, long-term health issues such as cardiovascular problems and respiratory diseases.
  • Exacerbation of Existing Conditions: Individuals with present conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or cardiovascular issues may experience worsened symptoms.

How Can You Improve the Indoor Air Quality in Your Home Through Air Conditioning Maintenance?

Professional HVAC Technician Providing Maintenance to AC Unit

Improving indoor air quality through air conditioning maintenance involves several key steps.

Here are some effective best practices to enhance the performance of your air conditioning system and ensure better indoor air quality:

  • Regular Filter Maintenance: Change or clean air filters regularly. Clogged or dirty filters hinder airflow, allowing pollutants to circulate. Change out your air filters every 90 days (at minimum).
  • Use High-Quality Air Filters: Invest in high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These can capture smaller particles, including allergens and pollutants, improving the overall air quality.
  • Professional HVAC Tune-Ups: Schedule regular AC tune-ups with our team. This includes cleaning coils, checking refrigerant levels, and ensuring that all components function optimally.
  • Duct Cleaning: Periodically clean air ducts to remove accumulated dust, mold, and other contaminants. This helps prevent the spread of pollutants throughout the home and ensures efficient airflow.
  • Control Humidity Levels: Maintain optimal humidity levels (typically between 30-50%) to discourage mold growth. Consider using a dehumidifier if necessary, especially in humid climates or during wet seasons.
  • Ventilation Enhancement: Ensure proper ventilation by regularly opening windows and doors to allow fresh outdoor air to circulate. Consider using exhaust fans in areas prone to moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Seal Leaks and Insulate: Seal any gaps or leaks in windows and doors to prevent outdoor pollutants from entering. Proper insulation also helps maintain consistent indoor temperatures and reduces the need for excessive air conditioning.
  • Regular Cleaning of Surrounding Areas: Keep the area around the outdoor unit clean and free of debris. Trim vegetation to maintain proper airflow.
  • Limit Indoor Pollutant Sources: Be mindful of indoor activities that may introduce pollutants, such as smoking or using certain cleaning products. Ventilate the space appropriately when engaging in such activities.
  • Install Air Purifiers: Consider using standalone air purifiers with HEPA filters or other advanced filtration technologies to supplement your air conditioning system and further improve air quality.

How Do I Choose an Air Conditioner That Promotes Good Indoor Air Quality?

There are several factors to consider when choosing an air conditioner that will help promote good indoor air quality which involves taking a look at the unit’s design, features, and maintenance requirements.

Key considerations include:

  • Filtration System: Go for a system with a high-quality filtration system. Look for units equipped with HERPA filters, for example. These filters effectively capture smaller particles.
  • Ventilation Options: Some units offer ventilation options such as a “fresh air” setting that brings in outdoor air helping to dilute indoor pollutants.
  • Humidity Control: Look for systems with built-in dehumidification capabilities. This will help prevent mold and mildew from growing.
  • Variable Speed Motors: Systems with variable speed motors can adjust the speed of the fan to align with cooling needs. This will not only help energy efficiency but also consistent air circulation.
  • Simplified Maintenance Features: Select a model that has accessible and washable air filters that simplify the maintenance process.
  • Whole-House Air Purification Systems: For additional air quality improvement, consider going with a whole-house purification system that works alongside the AC unit. They are designed to cleanse the air from a wide array of contaminants.

Before making a purchase, consult with our team at Cencal Mechanical to ensure that the AC unit you choose meets both your needs and wants, especially when it comes to indoor air quality.

How Do You Address Mold and Mildew Problems in Your Air Conditioner?

If you know that you are dealing with mold or mildew problems within your air conditioner, there are several steps to take including:

  • Turn Off the AC: Before doing anything, turn off the unit to avoid further circulation of mold spores. Disconnect the power supply as well to avoid any injury during cleaning.
  • Safety Precautions: Use appropriate safety gear to do any routine maintenance or cleaning. Grab gloves and a mask to protect yourself from mold exposure.
  • Replace Filters: If you have spotted mildew or mold, it’s important to replace the filters and inhibit the chance of recurring issues.
  • Clean the Drip Pan: Clean the drip pan found under the evaporator coils. The accumulated water found here can become a breeding ground for mold. Use a mixture of water and mild detergent to clean the pan.
  • Clean Evaporator Coils: If you find mold present on the coils, use a soft brush or vacuum to remove debris and mold. Follow this with a solution of water and detergent to finish the cleaning.
  • Inspect & Clean the Ducts: If you have mold in the ducts, you’ll want to consider hiring a professional to get this job done correctly. While inspecting, ensure that there is no sign of leaks.
  • Improve Ventilation: Enhance the ventilation around the space where the AC unit is located. This will prevent moisture build-up.
  • Address Water Leaks: Have any water leaks or condensation issues repaired ASAP.
  • Consider UV Light Installation: UV lights will help to kill mold and bacteria, which will help prevent the growth of mold on coils and other components.
  • Schedule Professional Maintenance: If mold or mildew persists, or if the problem is extensive, it’s important to contact us so we can properly evaluate and help remediate the situation.

More Improved Indoor Air Quality with Help from Cencal Mechanical

Peaceful Woman Relaxing On Sofa Inside Her Home

The knowledge above will help keep you on your toes with some of the lesser-known connections between air conditioners and the indoor air quality of a home. We hope this provides a new understanding and direction you need to keep the maintenance of your air conditioner efficient and performing at top levels.

For help installing a new air conditioner that keeps the air in your home enhanced and clean, contact our team and speak to a team member who can provide you with an accurate estimate.

Saving energy while cooling off your home in hot weather has tons of benefits, like conserving natural resources—but it also means something big for your bank account.

In this guide, our team at Cencal Mechanical covers 10 tips that will help save you energy with your air conditioning unit and reduce your monthly electric bill. From quick, DIY to-do’s to longer-term investments and routine AC tune-ups, we’ll show you our best strategies to help shave off cents and dollars every billing cycle.

Table of Contents

  • Learn About Time-of-Use Rates
  • Seal Your Windows & Doors
  • Change Air Filters Every 90 Days (Minimum)
  • Replace With Smart Thermostats
  • Cover Up Your Unit
  • Service Your Unit 
  • Rearrange the Furniture
  • Utilize Shade
  • Install Ceiling Fans
  • Turn Off the Lights
  • FAQ

Learn About Time-of-Use Rates

Check with your utility company about “time-of-use” rates. Most offer what is known as a time-of-use plan, which means they charge more during peak hours of the day and offer cheaper services during off-peak times.

This means you can actually save money by running your AC unit during certain periods and being conscious of when to keep it less active.

When Are Peak Hours?

Peak hours in California’s Central Valley are typically from 4-9 PM, Monday to Friday—the times when most people are usually getting home after a day at work. Pro tip: Weekends are usually considered off-peak, so plan your intensive use on Saturday and Sunday if you’re sticking around the house!

California homeowner sealing windows to improve AC efficiency

Seal Your Windows & Doors

Ensure that all your windows and doors are properly sealed. By fortifying the barriers between your cozy indoors and the unpredictable outdoors, you’re not only keeping your living space comfortable year-round, but also actively curbing your electricity bill. With these seals, you can keep the scorching summer air out and allow your AC unit to take a break in the thick of the heat.

HVAC technician replacing air filer in central AC system to save energy

Change Air Filters Every 90 Days (Minimum)

By committing to regular AC filter changes, you’re not just ensuring cleaner air—you’re also saving bigger on the bill than you may realize. A clogged, overworked filter forces your HVAC system to labor harder, guzzling unnecessary energy.

Every 90 days, changing that air filter out will allow your unit to breathe easy and operate efficiently. This also helps to expand the life of your HVAC system and spares you from unnecessary repairs or replacements. If you run your AC consistently during the warmer months of the year, you may even want to change it on a monthly basis.

Check out our FAQ about air filters, finding the right one, and maintenance of your air filtration in the home.

Homeowner setting smart thermostat to save energy on air conditioning

Use Smart Thermostats

If you don’t have one already, replacing your thermostat with a “smart” thermostat may be one of the best moves you can make to save energy while running your AC. These devices adjust temperatures and adapt to your lifestyle by learning your needs and preferences over time. They detect patterns, like when you’re home, asleep, or away, and control your HVAC equipment’s output accordingly.

You can also control these thermostats remotely via your smartphone or tablet. If you forget to adjust before a week-long vacation, don’t worry—you can simply raise or lower the temperature at a distance and relax, then set a comfortable temperature to return to when you’re on the way home.

Clean Your Outdoor AC Unit

We don’t recommend covering your AC unit to protect it from extreme heat—but we do recommend that you cool it down throughout the summer months with a quick rinse from the hose. This helps protect the system from overheating or overworking.

A simple spray-down can also help to remove dirt, debris, or anything else clogging the unit and hindering its performance—another way to expand the life of your equipment!

HVAC technician repairing outdoor AC unit

Service Your Unit

It is essential that you are servicing your AC unit regularly. Hiring us for professional annual air conditioner tune-ups is the best way to become aware of any present or impending issues and ensure your system is working at optimal levels—which saves energy and money by preventing emergency issues down the road.

Here at Cencal, our team can run detailed diagnostics on your cooling system and tune your air conditioner for peak performance. This will improve your energy efficiency and ensure that you can run your AC smoothly once the heat hits. Pro tip: call us for a tune-up before the summer months arrive.

Rearrange the Furniture

A simple bout of feng shui can lead to big energy savings, because rearranging the furniture in your home can actually make it warmer or cooler! If you’re looking to create a cooler home and a happier AC unit, all you have to do is strategically place your furniture out of reach of direct sunlight. This reduces radiant heat absorption and prevents your system from having to work as hard to keep the home chilled throughout the warmest months of the year.

Utilize Shade

Pay attention to those sunny spots in and around your home. This tip coincides well with our previous suggestion—once you rearrange your furniture, you should also ensure that you are properly creating shade and reducing the need for extra cool air in certain areas of the home.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Installing blinds or shades on the windows
  • Hanging curtains
  • Planting trees in the front or backyards to break up direct sun exposure

This purposeful positioning allows your home to be shielded from those strong (and hot) UV rays.

Man installing ceiling fan in home to save energy on air conditioning

Install Ceiling Fans

Installing ceiling fans is one of the quickest ways to ensure that your AC unit won’t overwork itself throughout the summertime heat waves. This helps save energy and reduce your electric bill.

Ceiling fans help to circulate air, creating a nearly natural breeze that makes your home feel cooler without actually lowering the temperature in the house. That means you can actually set your thermostat higher during hot weather without feeling uncomfortable.

Turn off (& Unplug) the Lights

Lights and electronics generate heat—so, if you’re not using them, they don’t need to be powered on in any way. Cool off every nook and cranny, and your AC unit won’t have to work as hard to cool down your space. It’s an easy way to reduce the need for additional cooling.

Make Your AC More Efficient with Help from Cencal Mechanical

The tips above can all help your air conditioner use less energy during hot weather—but investing in a high-efficiency AC unit can lower your monthly cooling costs even more. For help installing a new air conditioner that brings down your energy bills each month or tuning up your current cooling equipment, contact our team and speak to a team member who can provide you with an accurate estimate. You can also browse the FAQ below for more information.

Frequently Asks Questions about Saving Energy with Air Conditioning Units

Is it cheaper to leave the AC on all day or raise the temperature while you’re away?

There is some debate here, but it is generally more energy and cost-efficient to raise the temperature while you’re away rather than leave the AC unit working all day long. When your home is empty—especially during longer periods like vacations—there’s no need to maintain lower temperatures.

What is the best or most efficient temperature to set your AC to?

The answer to this might hurt those of you who love to set your thermostats at an extra cool 65°F—but in actuality, the most efficient temperature to set your unit to in hot weather is 78°F. However, this may be too warm for most, so we recommend that you try a happy medium around 75°F to minimize energy consumption without sweltering.

Does auto-mode save electricity or energy?

Yes, the auto-mode on your thermostat will absolutely save both electricity and energy. When your system is in “auto” mode, the thermostat’s fan setting will automatically adjust based on the temperature setting you’ve selected. When the desired temperature is reached, the fan will shut off and conserve electricity (and energy).

Air conditioners are essential pieces of home comfort equipment throughout most of the year in California’s balmy Central Valley, but running them all the time can get expensive. Smart thermostats offer a way to reduce energy wastage while keeping your home cool, saving you money without impacting your comfort. But they can bring you other surprising advantages as well!

Our team at Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air, Inc. has years of experience installing, repairing, and maintaining AC equipment—so we know all about the ways in which smart thermostats can help. Here’s our list of the benefits they can bring to your home when you pair them with your air conditioning system.

Smart thermostat on wall set to adjust temperature in 40 minutes

1. Optimized Cooling Efficiency

  • Modern smart thermostats are designed to adjust your HVAC equipment automatically to achieve optimal energy efficiency. This reduces unnecessary energy consumption while keeping the temperature in your home consistent and comfortable.
  • Smart thermostats can also be programmed to adjust AC output during specific times—to avoid overcooling during cooler parts of the day or during times when the home is unoccupied.
  • Adding a smart thermostat to your home can provide you with savings of up to 15% on your annual cooling costs.
Home occupant remotely adjusting thermostat settings with tablet

2. Remote AC Management

  • Smart thermostats can be paired with your phone or other digital devices so that you can control them at a distance—even from outside the home in many cases.
  • Remote control prevents you from having to leave the system running if you forget to turn it off before leaving home. Most smart thermostats are easily accessible via a smartphone app.
  • Setting your home to cool down right before you arrive ensures comfort without wasting energy cooling an empty home all day.
Graphic of smart thermostat showing temperature for living room in home with zoned cooling

3. Better Control for Zoned Cooling

  • If your ductwork is partitioned for multi-zone cooling at home, using smart thermostats for each area can make it easier to gather information about your energy usage by sending all the data to a single device.
  • Smart thermostats also let you control each zone of your home from the convenience of your phone or tablet. You could set your bedroom to be cooler at night while regulating the living room’s daytime temperature, all without leaving your kitchen.
  • Targeting specific zones prevents energy from being wasted by overcooling rooms that aren’t in use, keeping your AC efficient and contributing to monthly savings.

4. Intelligent AC Usage Reports

  • Modern smart thermostats provide analytics about how and where your home is using energy. This is a great way to learn about peak AC usage times and areas where you can cut back to save more money.
  • You can also use this data to get a clear picture of how your AC functions across different seasons, allowing you to adjust your habits for maximum efficiency during different months.
User with smartphone checking AC information with information about humidifier and other smart home technologies

5. Integration with AC Components & Smart Home Tech

  • Advanced smart thermostats from leading brands like Nest and Ecobee can communicate directly with specific AC components, optimizing operations like fan speeds or compressor use. This provides more granular control over your cooling equipment, reducing wear and tear while preventing energy waste.
  • Integrating your smart thermostat with other smart home devices, like automated blinds or ceiling fans, can make it even easier to cool your home efficiently. For instance, blinds can be scheduled to close during the hottest parts of the day, reducing the load on the AC.

6. Predictive AC Maintenance Alerts

  • Smart thermostats can provide alerts when you need to replace or clean your AC filter, recharge its refrigerant levels, or address other common maintenance issues. This allows you to prevent larger-scale problems from developing later and save yourself money on your cooling costs.
  • Regularly maintained AC systems have a longer operational life, better efficiency, and run the risk of fewer breakdowns—so maintenance alerts can allow you to enjoy more consistent comfort and peace of mind as well.

7. Learning Your Cooling Preferences

  • Modern smart thermostats are engineered with technology that allows them to “learn” your daily routines over time and adjust the cooling output of your HVAC technology accordingly.
  • By adapting to your behavior, the smart thermostat allows your AC to provide you with optimal comfort without using unnecessary energy.
Young couple buying home with smart thermostat for AC system

8. Enhancing Your Home Value

  • In today’s competitive real estate market, homes with integrated smart AC technology often stand out to prospective buyers.
  • Smart thermostats can increase the desirability of your home, making it a prime choice—especially for younger families who are in the market.

Make the Most of Your AC with a Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats, with their ability to learn and adapt, can provide more than just savings—they can also be an excellent long-term investment in your AC system. By providing more precise control while requiring less effort to adjust their settings, these devices make it easy to use energy efficiently while delivering enhanced comfort and convenience.

As home automation becomes the new normal for California homeowners, including a smart thermostat in your AC system can help you enjoy a smarter, greener, and more cost-effective lifestyle. To learn more about purchasing one of these devices and integrating it into your air conditioner, contact Cencal Mechanical and speak with one of our experts who can answer your specific questions.

Ah, California! The Golden State. A place of nearly endless summers and mild winters (usually). But this unique climate has its own set of quirks that can impact the heating and cooling systems in your home.

We’ve been offering furnace and air conditioning service in the Central Valley long enough to know the importance of accounting for California’s specific environmental factors. Understanding how these affect your HVAC equipment can help you anticipate and overcome potential problems. Let’s take a closer look.

Homes near water during California's humid heating season

What to Plan For When Heating California Homes

Look Out for Temperature Fluctuations

California’s winters might be mild, but sudden temperature drops can happen. Here’s how it affects your heating:

  • Unpredictability: You may find yourself switching from AC to heating within hours.
  • Equipment Stress: Sudden demands can put stress on your heating system.

What You Can Do: Regularly check your thermostat and have a professional look at the system before winter kicks in.

Anticipate Humidity Levels

California can get quite humid, especially in the winter. This can affect your heating equipment in several ways:

  • Reduced Efficiency: Humidity may cause your heating system to work harder.
  • Potential Damage: Increased humidity can lead to rust and other damages.
  • What You Can Do: Investing in a dehumidifier can help maintain optimal indoor humidity levels during the winter (although you may also want a whole-home humidifier to add moisture to your air during our dry summer months).

Consider the Coastal Influence

If you live near the coast, salty air can influence your heating in a few different ways as well:

  • Corrosion Issues: Salt in the air leads to an increased risk of corrosion in your HVAC system over time.
  • Increased Breakdowns: Corrosion on your blower fan or heating elements can force your furnace to work harder than necessary, driving up your utility bills and raising your risk of a costly emergency.

What You Can Do: Schedule regular maintenance for your furnace (including regular duct cleaning). This will help remove salt particles before they have a chance to corrode your system.

California homes during the hot and dry cooling season

What to Remember When Cooling California Homes

Get Ready for Hot Summer Days

The heat in California can be relentless. Here’s how it affects your cooling:

  • Increased Workload: Your AC works overtime during hot spells.
  • High Energy Bills: Running your cooling equipment constantly throughout the day leads to higher utility bills.

What You Can Do: Shade your outdoor unit and try to keep the thermostat at a consistent setting.

Keep an Eye On Air Quality

Air quality (especially in urban areas) can influence cooling and impact your home comfort as well. Here’s how:

  • Filtering Challenges: More pollutants in the air can clog filters faster than usual.
  • Health Concerns: Poor air quality might cause discomfort or make respiratory problems worse.

What You Can Do: Regularly change or upgrade filters and consider an air purifier.

Professional HVAC technician examining outdoor AC unit

Why Hiring Professional HVAC Technicians Matters

Trust us on this one—hiring professional HVAC technicians is crucial for you to enjoy comfort at home all year round. Here’s why working with our team at Cencal is a smart move:

  • Expertise & Skill: With decades of experience serving the Central Valley, we know the ins and outs of California’s climate and how it affects your system.
  • Routine Maintenance: Regular checks can catch problems early, saving you money in the long run. Our AC tune-ups start at just $89, and include a comprehensive multi-point inspection of your system to make sure there are no impending issues.
  • Safety Assurance: Our total satisfaction promise helps ensure your equipment is functioning safely and efficiently. We never consider our work finished until you’ve approved it.
  • Customized Solutions: Our professionals tailor heating and cooling solutions to your specific needs. We don’t just consider the climate—we also consider your home, lifestyle, and comfort preferences to provide solutions that work for you.

California’s weather can be as complex as it is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean your comfort should suffer. Now that you know how the climate impacts your heating and cooling systems, you can take actionable steps to stay cozy and cost-effective.

Contact Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air to make sure your HVAC system is prepared to deal with everything our state can throw at it. Here’s to enjoying your California home, come rain or shine!

Furnaces provide powerful heat for your home during the coldest months of the year, while heat pumps offer versatile heating and cooling from a single piece of equipment. But what’s the best way to heat your California home—a furnace or a heat pump? You’re in the right place to find out.

As your friendly neighborhood HVAC experts here at Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air, we’ve performed installations for new heat pumps and furnaces throughout the Central Valley. Let us help you make an informed decision about your new home comfort equipment by comparing the pros and cons of each system below.

What’s the Difference Between a Heat Pump and a Furnace?

Think of a furnace as a fireplace that’s been upgraded for the 21st century, and a heat pump as a magic box that can make both hot air and cold. Furnaces burn fuel to create heat, typically using natural gas, propane, or oil. Heat pumps, on the other hand, use electricity to move heat from one place to another—from the outside to the inside in the winter, and vice versa in the summer. That’s right; heat pumps can also act as air conditioners in those hot California summers!

But while heat pumps offer exciting capabilities to homeowners, that doesn’t mean furnaces are obsolete. Figuring out what type of heating equipment is best for you comes down to your comfort preferences, fuel availability, your budget, and more.

Pros & Cons of Each System At a Glance

Like everything in life, both furnaces and heat pumps have their benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a quick overview:

Technician installing new furnace in home
Furnaces

Pros

  • Can deliver powerful heat—even when it’s frigid outside
  • Cost-effective if you have easy access to a natural gas supply
  • New high-efficiency models can approach the energy efficiency heat pumps offer

Cons

  • Generally less energy-efficient than heat pumps (especially older models)
  • Burning fuel produces carbon emissions
  • Not eligible for heat-pump-specific rebates

Bosch heat pump outside home

Heat Pumps

Pros

  • More efficient than the majority of central furnaces (especially older ones)
  • Use electricity instead of burning fuel (eliminating carbon emissions)
  • New heat pump installations may make you eligible for rebates in California

Cons

  • Slower to provide heat than central furnaces
  • Using electricity to produce heat typically costs more than natural gas
  • Not as energy efficient in particularly cold climates

Are Furnaces or Heat Pumps More Energy Efficient?

In terms of overall energy efficiency, heat pumps take the trophy over central furnaces. They move heat instead of generating it, which uses less energy. In the right conditions, a high-quality heat pump can transfer over three times as much energy as it uses.

Furnaces, however, are catching up—many new models can be up to 95% efficient. It’s also important to note that some heat pumps have supplementary systems like electric heating elements that they use to produce heat during particularly cold periods, where there is not enough heat available outdoors to transfer into your home. This generally isn’t a problem in the Central Valley—but during freak cold snaps, relying on these supplementary systems can make a heat pump less efficient.

Comparing the Costs of Furnaces & Heat Pumps

Installation Costs

When it comes to upfront costs, furnaces tend to be less expensive. A new heat pump from a quality brand usually costs about two-thirds more to install than a comparable central furnace, including parts and labor.

However, the exact costs of installing a new furnace or heat pump will depend on many factors, including:

  • The condition and complexity of your home’s existing ductwork
  • The quality of your insulation
  • The heating capacity required by your home
  • The accessibility of the installation location

When you contact us, we’ll be able to provide you with a recommendation based on your needs and give you an accurate quote for the heating equipment that will serve you best.

Long-Term Operating Costs

The lower operating costs of a heat pump can help offset their initial costs over time, especially with the rising cost of fossil fuels. For example, switching from a gas furnace to a heat pump has the potential to decrease your monthly heating costs by over 30% under ideal circumstances—but it’s critical to note that this number can fluctuate significantly depending on current energy prices and climate conditions.

Generally, however, California’s mild climate allows heat pumps to function effectively in the winter and provide consistent savings—especially over older central furnaces. Yes, if you were living in the ice-cold corners of Alaska, a heat pump might struggle to keep up with the extreme cold. But here in the Golden State, where winters are mild, a heat pump can provide comfortable and efficient heating.

Bosch heat pumps on white background

When to Buy a Heat Pump or Central Furnace for Your California Home

Given the above, there are distinct circumstances when it makes more sense to invest in either a heat pump or a central furnace. Here are some points to help you make your decision:

Consider a Heat Pump If…

  • You want to reduce your carbon footprint: Remember, heat pumps don’t burn fossil fuels like central furnaces do.
  • You’re okay spending more up front for long-term savings: If you’d rather pay more now and enjoy lower monthly utility bills, a heat pump could be the answer.
  • You’re confident that you won’t face extreme cold anytime soon: This should be true for pretty much everyone in California’s Central Valley—but if you’re really worried about cold snaps, you might be more comfortable with a central furnace system.

Consider a Central Furnace If…

  • You have access to natural gas: If your home is already connected to a natural gas line, you’ve got access to a fairly efficient fuel source, and the money you’d save each month with a heat pump might not justify the switch over your equipment’s projected lifespan.
  • You pay a high rate for electricity: The downside to not using fossil fuels is that heat pumps can be expensive to run in homes that pay high electricity rates. Since California’s electricity prices are higher than the US average, it’s worth checking with us to make sure a heat pump will be cost-effective for you before buying one.
  • You’re worried about record-breaking winter temperatures: Weather can be unpredictable, so if you want a heating system that can deliver reliable comfort in unexpectedly cold conditions, a central furnace may give you more peace of mind.

Other Considerations When Buying New Heating Equipment

How Old Is Your Current Heating System?

Most furnaces become significantly less efficient after 10 years and start to experience consistent performance issues around age 15 or so. If your system is on its last legs or doesn’t heat your home effectively, it might be time to say adios and invest in a new system.

What Kind of Maintenance Will You Do?

Both heat pumps and furnaces require regular maintenance to operate at their best. Furnaces need annual heating tune-ups, while heat pumps should be checked twice a year due to their dual heating and cooling functions (once in the spring and once in the fall).

Can You Qualify For a Rebate?

Heat pump buyers who purchase through Cencal Mechanical can save up to $3,000 on a new heat pump, with up to $750 in utilities, $2000 in tax credit, and $250 instate rebate. We also include 3 years of free maintenance when you get a new heat pump installed.

Choosing the Home Comfort Solution that Works for You

We hope this guide helps clear up the heat pump vs. furnace debate. But remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re still unsure, Contact Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air and we’ll help you make the best choice for your home. Happy heating, folks!

Air conditioner maintenance keeps your cooling equipment running the way it should throughout California’s long, hot summer months. Some of it can be done on your own, while other maintenance tasks are complex enough to require professional help. But how do you know the difference, when should you perform or schedule maintenance on your AC, and what kind of costs should you expect?

Don’t worry—the Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air team has spent years working on air conditioners throughout the Central Valley, so we know all about the best way to maintain California cooling systems and we’re here to help. Read ahead to learn everything you’ll need to start planning and performing the tasks that keep your AC running right when the weather really heats up.
Dirty and clean AC filters on white background

DIY Air Conditioner Maintenance: Tasks You Can Do On Your Own

The following AC maintenance tasks are easy enough that most homeowners should be able to tackle them without too much trouble. If you feel challenged by any of these, though, don’t worry—you can always call us for help and have a professional HVAC tech make sure they get done right.

Monthly Tasks

  • Cleaning or replacing your air filter: A clean filter allows for better airflow and efficiency, reducing energy costs. Visually check the filter to ensure it’s clean and not clogged. Then replace disposable filters or clean reusable filters with water and mild detergent if necessary.
  • Cleaning your outdoor unit: Visually inspect the unit for damage or wear, and remove any debris, leaves, and dirt from the outdoor unit’s surface. Keep plants and bushes at least 2 feet away from the unit to ensure proper airflow.

Annual Tasks

  • Checking your evaporator coils: Before starting your system for the first time this season, access the evaporator coils by opening the utility panel in the indoor unit. Then use a soft brush to remove dust and dirt. For heavily soiled coils, call us for professional help—you don’t want to damage the coils and pay big bucks to replace them.
  • Inspecting your ductwork and temporarily patching small leaks: Visually check along your ducts for leaks, holes, or disconnections. If you find small ones, you can use duct mastic or foil-backed tape to patch them—but this is only a temporary fix. You’ll need to call us for help so that we can permanently solve the problem and restore the long-term integrity of your ducts.
  • Testing your thermostat’s accuracy: Place a reliable thermometer near the thermostat and compare the readings to make sure your thermostat is working accurately. If there’s a significant difference, recalibrate the thermostat or consider replacing it with a smart thermostat that will automatically adjust itself to accommodate your comfort preferences and use energy efficiently.

Technician checking refrigerant charge in air conditioner during service call

Professional Air Conditioner Maintenance: When to Call for Help

There’s a limit to the amount of AC maintenance you can do on your own. Air conditioners are complicated machines with numerous delicate components that can be damaged by inexperienced hands, so it’s best to call our professionals for help with the following tasks:

Annual Maintenance

  • Comprehensive inspections and tune-ups: We’ll visit your home and run a complete multi-point inspection on your air conditioner—including its compressor, evaporator and condenser coils, refrigerant lines, blower motor, and more. This includes checking the amount of refrigerant in your system and topping it up if it’s low. We’ll also let you know if we find any urgent or impending mechanical problems that could turn into costly emergencies, and provide you with cost-effective options for fixing them before they reach that point. You should get your AC tuned up this way at least once a year for best results and optimal peace of mind.

Specialized Tasks

  • Component replacement or repair: If your AC has already suffered a broken compressor or other major component, do not attempt to replace it on your own. Not only is this a difficult job to do without special tools and knowledge, but it can also void your AC’s warranty. Trust our team to provide an efficient fix instead.
  • Installing upgrades for air quality or energy efficiency: Adding an air purifier to your AC can make the air in your home feel considerably fresher, while a humidifier can help prevent dry skin and certain respiratory problems. To make sure these upgrades are installed properly, you’ll want an experienced HVAC technician to put them in.

Woman relaxing in cool California home after using AC maintenance best practices

Extra Tips for Maximizing Your AC Efficiency

  • Using proper thermostat settings: Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature that isn’t too low, as each degree can save energy and reduce costs. Consider using a programmable smart thermostat to adjust temperatures automatically when you’re away or asleep—this can reduce energy waste and save you up to 10-20% on your heating and cooling costs.
  • Utilizing fans and natural ventilation: Use ceiling or portable fans to help circulate cool air and create a wind-chill effect, making your home feel cooler without lowering the thermostat. Open windows in the evening to let in cool air and close them during the day to keep heat out.
  • Insulating your home: Proper insulation helps keep your home cool in summer by reducing heat transfer between the indoors and outdoors. Insulate your attic, walls, and floors to maintain comfortable temperatures and lower your energy bills.
  • Installing energy-efficient windows and doors: Energy-efficient windows and doors minimize heat gain and loss, making it easier for your AC to maintain a comfortable temperature. Look for double-pane windows with low-E glass and well-sealed doors to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Stay Cool in Cali with Proper AC Maintenance

Knowing the difference between the AC maintenance tasks you can take care of and the ones you can’t gives you the power to keep your cooling system healthy between professional visits and make sure you’re scheduling service when you really need it. To have questions about your specific cooling equipment answered by professionals or book a service call, contact Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air—our team will be happy to help.

Staying cool in the spring and summer is a challenge for many Central Valley residents, since running the air conditioner constantly can quickly become expensive. What many people don’t know is that supplementing your AC with a heat pump can actually bring your cooling costs down significantly, making it much more cost-effective to stay comfortable throughout the hottest months of the year.

Modern heat pumps use less energy than central air conditioners, but can still reduce your indoor temperature significantly—letting you save the AC for those hot days when you really need it (and save money in the long run). Learn more below from our experienced HVAC technicians about how you can use a heat pump to make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient at the same time.

 

 

How Does a Heat Pump Work?

Like central air conditioners, heat pumps use refrigerant to move heat from one area to another. Unlike air conditioners, however, heat pumps can also reverse this process to move heat from the outside into your home and raise the temperature, which means they provide both heating and cooling capabilities.

When your heat pump is in cooling mode, it goes through the following steps:

  • Refrigerant enters the compressor as a low-pressure gas
  • The compressor squeezes the refrigerant to raise its pressure and increase its temperature
  • The refrigerant enters the condenser, where it releases its heat to the outdoors and becomes a high-pressure liquid
  • The liquid refrigerant moves to the expansion valve where its pressure is released—causing its temperature to drop even further
  • The refrigerant reaches the evaporator where it absorbs heat from inside the home and vaporizes into a low-pressure gas
  • As a low-pressure gas, the refrigerant enters the compressor and begins the cycle again

Why Heat Pumps Use Less Energy than Air Conditioners

The steps described above are the same basic tasks that your central air conditioner performs—but heat pumps use less energy. Here’s why:

  • Using a heat pump to provide heating and cooling with the same system uses much less energy than switching back and forth between separate heating and cooling equipment. This is because most of the energy furnaces and air conditioners use is spent while they’re starting up.
  • Heat pumps are often designed with variable-speed compressors, allowing them to operate at lower speeds than air conditioners. This means they can more accurately match their output to your home’s cooling needs and reduce energy waste.
  • Our heat pumps also come with WiFi-enabled smart thermostats, which can further enhance energy efficiency by automatically adjusting your equipment to maintain optimal comfort levels in your home.

The Benefits of Heat Pumps for Homeowners

The convenience and energy efficiency heat pumps offer results in numerous benefits for homeowners. Here are a few of the clearest:

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

High-efficiency heat pumps use up to 60% less energy than conventional central HVAC systems, according to the California Energy Commission. This translates into a reduction of over 5,500 lbs in greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Lower Your Monthly Utility Bills

Using less energy also means paying less each month to cool your home. Based on the numbers above, an average California homeowner could save $1000 on cooling annually with a heat pump—or ~$83 per month. Bear in mind that savings for individual households will vary depending on specific usage habits.

Qualify for Rebates & Incentives

Heat pumps qualify for several rebates and incentive programs that can offset their installation and maintenance costs. For example, you can get a 30% federal tax credit up to $2000 for new heat pump installations that meet the requirements of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE).

Heat Pump Best Practices

High-efficiency heat pumps provide comparable cooling power to most central air conditioning systems while offering better energy efficiency, so replacing your AC with a new heat pump can be a smart move. Adding a heat pump and keeping your air conditioner is also an option—using the heat pump to supplement your AC on the hottest days of the year is a much more efficient way to cool off than simply pushing your air conditioner to its limits.

Here are some other tips for making the best possible use of your heat pump:

Usage & Maintenance Tips

  • Combine your heat pump with a WiFi-enabled smart thermostat to ensure its output is always consistent with your cooling needs (our heat pumps come with these by default).
  • Clean or replace your heat pump’s air filter on a monthly basis.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed when running your heat pump to prevent hot air from entering.
  • Use curtains to stop direct sunlight from entering your home through windows and warming the interior.
  • Have your heat pump professionally serviced twice a year (we recommend once in the spring and once in the fall). Our team can diagnose any problems with your heat pump and present you with solutions to ensure its energy efficiency throughout the year’s warmest months.

Using a Heat Pump for Cost-Effective Cooling

While heat pumps aren’t normally effective replacements for central air conditioners in California, they make an excellent way to reduce the amount of energy it takes to cool your home on all but the hottest days of the year. The savings a heat pump provides can easily pay off their installation costs in just a few years, providing you and your family with more income each month.

Contact Cencal Mechanical Heating & Air to learn more about the benefits of installing a heat pump in your home. We’ll be happy to recommend equipment based on your home’s specific cooling needs and provide you with a quote to help you make an informed decision about your comfort.

 

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