Posts Tagged ‘ABC Cooling’

What’s all the hubbub about the “green button”?

January 20, 2012

White House PGE announce the Green ButtonThe White House announced that PG&E, and San Diego Gas & Electric have launched the “green button”, an online tool that allows customers to download their own energy data.

[Watch California utilities PG&E, and San Diego Gas & Electric in the video of the Green Button launch.]

That is certainly good news.  We’ve long used a good look an utility bill history and energy usage to help figure out what going on in a home.  Something that makes it easier for a homeowner to track down that history is a good thing.  And we look forward to a host of third-party aps that can help consumers save energy and money.

But from the hoopla, you’d think our energy woes are over.

Not so fast.  Access to household energy use data is really important.  And Facebook aps might be fun.  But when it’s 105 degrees out and you have a poorly insulated house, with south- and west-facing glass, and an old air-conditioner, are you going to be able to stay comfortable without paying a lot of money to the utilities?  No.  Good information helps, but it doesn’t change physics.  To make your home more comfortable and not break the bank with utility bills, you’ve got to make actual improvements!

And the fundamentals still apply.  You need good insulation and air-sealing, tight duct work, efficient heating and cooling equipment, efficient lighting.  And you also need to know if your water heater, furnace, or any other combustion appliance in your home is operating safely and efficiently.  The green button won’t don’t that for you.

Energy Upgrade CaliforniaFortunately, for California residents, the statewide Energy Upgrade California (EUC) program can provide up to $4,000 in rebates to help make smart improvements (some cities and counties are offering even more in matching rebates).  And certified contractors can give you access to these incentives. GreenHomes America partners have BPI-certified staff, and can provide access to the EUC incentives.

The best way to find out what you might qualify for is to have a real home energy audit conducted by a participating contractor—and then get the rebate by having the contractor make the improvements.  You can contact participating experts in the following areas to learn more:

So bring the green button on.  Check it out.  Easier access to utility information is great (after all, we’re paying the bills, aren’t we—shouldn’t we be able to get the information?)  Kudos to PG&E and SDGE for stepping up to lead the nation with this.  The rest of the country?  Well, a handful of additional uttilies have said they’re interested, so stay tuned.  And if GreenHomes has a location near you, we’ll help you find applicable rebates, incentives, and loans.

But if you want a more comfortable, healthier, and more energy-efficiency home, data alone won’t do it.  A good home assessment followed by the right, professionally installed, measures, will.

Cheers,
Mike

Out of sight, out of mind? Lurking in the depths below, the whole house approach still applies!

September 19, 2011
 
The moon’s surface or a part of the home?

Most of us ignore the spaces under our homes.  What is under there anyway?  For some houses there can be some important stuff such as the heating system or, for every one I’ve been in, the stuff that holds the house up and it’s usually wood, aka “Mold Food”.  Yeah it’s kind of important.

Henry Ford once said “quality means doing it right when no one is looking”.  And for some space in our home this is often a neglected concept.  More likely heard would be “no one is going to see this after I’m done.”  Too often when called in to someone’s home we see things that just weren’t done right the first time.  Duct work is left pinched, restricting flow.  Sometimes it’s left unsealed and un-insulated.   Floor insulation is hastily installed leaving it to droop or fall out.   Un-addressed moisture coming in from the walls or rising up from the ground below attacks metal and wood.  As Mike has mentioned in a previous post, sometimes we know its damp down there because we smell it.   Heating and cooling systems are left to suffer and struggle sent to an early and shallow grave we affectionately call the crawlspace. In one Berkley, California that started with many of this issue, GreenHomes America partner, ABC Cooling, recently worked its magic.

Failing furnace

The heating system in the crawlspace had a long horizontal run which struggling to draft well, ended up rotting away.  The big concern here is that when the venting fails, the flue gasses are left ready to be drawn into the home; exactly where we don’t want them.  This is a typical problem in the Bay area or for that matter anywhere with this kind of configuration.  The big fix here was a super efficient sealed combustion unit.  These units are quite affordable, and the savings from the greater efficiency help to pay for them over time.  

The broader opportunity was a chance to fix the duct work and solve some other underlying weaknesses with the house, from duct work to hot water, to insulation and air-sealing.  It doesn’t make much sense to put a new engine in a car with flat tires, a worn-out starter, and a leaky gas tank.  But fix those problems, and you can have a real gem. Moisture was not a huge issue for this space, but the floor insulation was falling down in some places and in general (as in most homes) we could see there was a need for some air sealing.  With the furnace in the crawl much of the duct work is essentially was left out side.  This is not wrong, it’s just not ideal, and in this scenario it was the only practical place to put it.  (In many homes, we see a similar situation with the equipment up in the attic rather than down in the crawlspace–it’s essentially the same problem just a different location!)

Benjamin Franklin once said something about house guests...

Certainly indoor air quality can be an issue with an unsealed crawlspace.  Soil gasses, contaminated outside air (vented crawlspace in congested traffic area), moisture issues, animal feces, or even animals can raise IAQ concerns.  Dead rats in your furnace return?  Generally considered a problem!

Here are a few pictures to describe what was done:

Space before transformation

Encapsulation material being measured out

Installation in a tight spot
 

barrier installed at perimeter with ductwork insulated and supported

Sprayfoam on the walls

Chris and Kristen, the owners of this charming Berkeley home, have over the years created a wonderful space to raise a family in. Years ago, insulation was added to the home, but still things weren’t quite right.  Part of their discomfort was a poor distribution system for heat.  The new heating and hot water system improvements in the home now not only make it more comfortable but also safer.  

At this point, their home may indeed need new windows. This is not something we often recommend first in many houses since there usually are greater opportunities in other areas that are much less expense.  Their windows are 20 years old and starting to fail, but now the whole house has been treated as cost effectively as possible and windows may make sense next.  Treating the crawlspace really brings it together, adding not only energy savings but just as important, comfort.  As Chris and Kristen noted, “We are thrilled with the results already.  It’s certainly a relief having the dangerous furnace issue fixed.  And we’ve already noticed the floors are more comfortable, and the house quieter.  The guys from ABC Cooling did a great job.”

Start with a home assessment, find out what you really need, and do the job right. It’s as simple as that.  Well, OK, some of you might have to get rid of the rat, first.

“Before” photo credits (including that rat in the ductwork!), to David Hales, Building Systems and Energy Specialist, WSU Extension Energy Program.  

Getting a charge out of (and into) electric vehicles in California

July 26, 2011

The times they are a changin’.  And the cars they are a chargin’!

Our sister company, Linc Lighting & Electrical, has installed the first electric vehicle (EV) charging stations of their kind in downtown Laguna Beach, California, as part of City’s wider effort to implement an array of climate protection measures.   The EV charging stations were officially unveiled at a June 21 press event conducted by the Laguna Beach City Council and attended by my colleagues at The Linc Group. 

C

An EV charging station in Laguna Beach--A state-of-the-art Coulomb system installed by Linc Lighting & Electrical

“We are proud to be a part of this sustainability initiative in partnership with the City of Laguna Beach,” said Ken Sapp, vice president of Linc EnergyHub. “The Linc Group is strongly committed to providing superior, sustainable services to all of our clients across all of our service areas, including IT, electrical, lighting, controls and HVAC. We also are pleased to have the opportunity to work once again with Coulomb Technologies to help deliver leading sustainability solutions.” 

LLE is also installing charging stations for Nissan Leaf purchases and supporting business locations. 

I’m particularly excited by the in-home installs.  We have the ability, with our GreenHomes Partner locations in San DiegoFresno, and Hayward to work hand-in- hand with LLE, not just with charging stations, but to look at the whole house and find ways to save energy–offseting the electrical consumption of the car!  That’s a huge deal.  And the Energy Upgrade California incentives help pay for the home improvements.  Less gas, less smog, lower utility bills, and money back!  It’s a quadruple win!

You don’t have to buy an electric vehicle to start saving in your home and taking advantage of the cash back rebates.  And the funny thing is, the improvements make sense even without the rebates.  You wind up with a more comfortable, healthier home with lower utility bills.  Good stuff!

Cheers,
Mike

ABC Cooling & Heating receives the 2010 New Horizon Award

January 24, 2011

Congratulations to GreenHomes partner ABC Cooling & Heating of Fresno, CA who last week won the 2010 New Horizon Award from the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce.  The award was given to the company for “achieving a more efficient and eco-friendly approach to business while anticipating the demands of tomorrow”.  And with the great team they have in place and the way they’ve embrace a home performance approach to helping their customers, I can’t say I’m surprised.  An excellent group of people working under the thoughtful leadership of Jerry Unruh.  Well done!

Thanks,
Mike

ABC Cooling Up and Running

July 30, 2010

After a couple months of intensive GreenHomes training, we’re on the street in Hayward with ABC Cooling.  And it’s good to see exactly the customer response and satisfaction that we’ve expected.   From Lynne R.,

“As a retired lawyer, I enjoyed watching the expert crew conduct my Comprehensive Home Energy Audit.   Within two days, I had my personal report showing the different ways I could save money and improve my home.”

 This is something we’ve come to expect, but it was nonetheless great to see how engaged she was in the process and how much she wanted to learn from the audit.   It’s good to be able to serve folks in Northern California.

Thanks,
Mike

Welcome ABC Cooling and Heating to the GreenHomes Family!

June 11, 2010

GreenHomes America, the premier national provider of home performance contracting (HPC) has signed a franchise agreement with Hayward, CA-based ABC Cooling and Heating Services, Inc. With the addition of ABC’s multiple locations, GreenHomes America will now be able to provide HPC service to even more of California, where homeowner and government demand for energy efficiency and “green” home improvements is a growing trend.

ABC is a respected, 55-year-old heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) enterprise,
with offices in Hayward and Fresno and more than 40 employees. Over the past 10 years they have helped more than 100,000 homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and the Central San Joaquin Valley Region.

Read more.

Thanks,
Mike


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