Nearly every homeowner in the Central Valley has the same question: “How can I save money on my monthly energy bills?” The journey to better energy-efficiency and savings starts with a home energy audit, conducted by the BPI-certified experts here at Allbritten. Not only will we help identify places where you can save energy in the home, but we’ll also help you address problems and put your home on the path to greater energy savings for years to come.

IAQ: Here’s what you should know about improving your indoor air quality

Indoor air quality is a major concern here in the United States—especially as more of us start spending a majority of our time indoors at home. Poor IAQ can have a significant impact on our health and happiness in the home or office. In this article, we’ll review what indoor air quality is, why it’s such an issue here in Fresno, and what you can do to clear the air in your home and start breathing easier.

At Allbritten, we’re Fresno’s indoor air quality experts. Our team is standing by and ready to help improve the air in your home. To get started, call us today.

Is IAQ really that big of a problem?

What do you picture when you hear the words “air quality?” Maybe a smoggy Central Valley, or a congested freeway? A TV weatherman warning you about high levels of airborne particulate matter, ozone, or haze? Either way, chances are that you think of outdoor air first. Most people associate air quality with the outside world, and view the air they breathe inside as being clean or pure.

Unfortunately, this is actually a major misconception. While it’s true that outdoor air quality issues do plague Fresno and the Central Valley—in 2019, we were ranked as the nation’s worst city for air pollution—the inside of your home or office is no refuge. In fact, there’s a good chance that the air you breathe inside is just as polluted as the air you breathe outside. Considering the amount of time we all spend inside (especially lately!), that means your exposure to poor indoor air quality (or “IAQ”) could have a pronounced effect on your health and happiness.

Why is our indoor air quality so poor?

One of the reasons our indoor air quality is so poor is because today’s homes are built to better retain cooling and heating, which reduces airflow and drafts. While this is great news for your home’s efficiency and a key part of efficiency upgrades, it also means that pollutants and allergens can become trapped in your home without adequate ventilation to bring in fresh air or filtration to remove particulate matter.

In the warmer months of the year, we open our doors and windows less, which exacerbates ventilation and IAQ problems.

In the warmer months of the year, we open our doors and windows less, which exacerbates ventilation and IAQ problems.

One way to deal with some IAQ problems is through adequate ventilation: allowing outdoor air inside your home to refresh the air supply. Of course, this is nothing new: when someone says “it feels stuffy in here,” they reach for the window or door. Unfortunately, this strategy is often a seasonal one: during the hot summer months, no one wants outdoor air getting into their home. So, we close up our windows and doors, rarely allowing outdoor and indoor air to circulate.

Here’s what could be in your home’s air

Here are some of the potential pollutants that might be found in your home’s air:

  • Allergens: Whether produced by trees and plants (pollen), caused by dust mites, or a byproduct of your home’s companions (dog and cat hair and dander), the impact of allergens can be more pronounced in an enclosed space.
  • VOCs: Volatile organic compounds are a significant contributor to poor indoor air quality. These are produced by household cleaning products, pesticides, and wood paint. In sufficient quantities, VOCs can have negative health impacts for most people.
  • Viruses & Bacteria: Airborne viruses and bacteria could be present in your home’s air, endlessly recirculating every time you turn on the air conditioner.
  • Mold Particles: Mold can grow anywhere there is sufficient moisture and humidity. Airborne mold particles can make members of your household sick.
  • Other: There are many other potential pollutants, including asbestos (found in older homes or furniture), carbon monoxide (make sure you have a CO sensor in your home), secondhand smoke, radon, lead, and more.

How does this impact me?

Honestly, this depends. Different people have different levels of sensitivity to different indoor air pollutants. Generally speaking, young children and the elderly are more susceptible to the negative health effects of degraded indoor air quality. However, a large enough air quality problem will eventually impact everyone in the health to some degree.

The experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency divide the health effects of poor indoor air quality into two categories: immediate effects and long-term effects. Immediate effects include allergic reactions and symptoms like eye irritation, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches, fatigue, or a scratchy throat. Again, these symptoms are generally going to be more prevalent and pronounced in those with pre-existing health or breathing conditions, such as asthma. There’s even science to support the idea that poor air quality impacts our sleep!

It’s more difficult to draw a clear connection between poor indoor air quality and long-term health conditions, but scientists have identified some IAQ pollutants as a contributor to forms of cancer, respiratory disease, or heart disease. Context is important here: while common allergens are unlikely to contribute to severe long-term effects, prolonged and repeated exposure to VOCs, asbestos, or secondhand smoke almost certainly will. You need to know what you’re dealing with. This is why an indoor air quality test is so important.

What can I do about poor indoor air?

The first step is scheduling an indoor air quality test with an IAQ expert or trusted HVAC company in your area. A professional IAQ test captures samples of your home’s air in different rooms and spaces, and then has those samples lab-tested to determine what pollutants or contaminants are present in what quantities. This helps determine what needs to be done first to improve the air quality in the home.

Next, an IAQ expert will want to deal with the source of any critical issues. After all, before we worry about filtering out mold particles from your home’s air, we’re going to want to help you find the source of the mold in your home and clean it. The same thing goes for radon, carbon monoxide, and VOCs.

What is the difference between air filters and air purifiers?

Air filters work like this: they use a fan to draw in air, which is then forced through a physical filter. Particulates in the air get caught in this filter, and the air that is forced out the other side of the air filter is generally free of physical contaminants. This is the same principle that your HVAC air filter operates on: capturing physical particulate matter. You then clean or replace the filter at a later point.

However, this approach has an important limitation: anything too small to be caught in the filter—which includes most viruses, bacteria, and mold particles—will generally not be caught in an air filter. An air purifier is a better approach for this class of air contaminants. UV filters, for instance, use ultraviolet light to kill or deactivate viruses, bacteria, and mold, rendering them harmless.

An Allbritten technician drives one of our iconic service vehicles out to an IAQ services call here in Fresno, CA.Is there a better way forward?

For a best-of-both-worlds approach, we recommend a system that can handle both air purification and air filtration. Here at Allbritten, we install the APCO Whole-House Purifier. It uses UVC light with activated carbon cells to kill airborne contaminants while also filtering out particulate matter from your home’s air. Installed inside of your air ducts, it runs silently, protecting your home while staying out-of-sight and out-of-mind. The great thing about the APCO Whole-House Purifier is that it doesn’t create ozone as a byproduct of air purification. Considering that ozone itself is an IAQ contaminant, it’s a device with the right approach to air quality improvement.

What should I do next?

If you live in Fresno or the Central Valley, you need to call our team here at Allbritten. We offer a number of indoor air quality improvement services, including:

  • Humidifier / Dehumidifier Installation
  • Whole-Home Air Purification
  • Air Filter Replacement

Our friendly team of experts can put your home or commercial building on the path to better air quality, better breathing, and a happier life indoors.

Here’s how you can lower your heating costs this winter

Heating costs in the winter are enough to make anyone cringe. If you’re like most homeowners, you’re probably looking for ways to cut back on energy costs for the rest of the season. Here are a few simple things you can do to lower your heating costs this winter.

For a comprehensive view of how you can reduce energy waste and start saving, contact us to schedule a home energy audit. Our energy experts will evaluate how efficient your home is and make recommendations for improvements.

Clean your vents and radiators

Over time, dust and debris build up in vents, radiators, and duct systems. In addition to being horrible for your health, this buildup can also block air flow through your HVAC system.

When airflow is blocked, your system has to work harder to bring the home to the temperature on the thermostat. This can cause your heating costs to skyrocket.

To make things easier on your HVAC system and energy budget, clean your vents regularly. You can do this with a vacuum cleaner. You should also schedule duct cleaning at least once per year to maximize air flow and make sure your indoor air is as clean as possible.

Lower your thermostat setting

There’s no reason to keep your home blistering hot during the winter. To save energy, opt for a cool and comfortable 68⁰ F. You can lower the temperature even further while you’re sleeping. This action alone could save you up to 3% of your heating costs over a 24-hour period.

Upgrade your windows

Old windows are typically not very energy-efficient. If you live in an older home with thin, single-pane windows, it’s time for an upgrade. Switch to energy-efficient, double-pane windows and you’ll notice a decrease in your monthly energy costs.

Change your furnace filter frequently

Did you know your furnace filter should be changed once every 3-4 months? If you have pets or suffer from allergies, you may want to change your filter even more frequently than that. If you fail to change your filter as recommended, you could be dealing with more than just dirty air.

Furnace filters can easily become clogged because they’re constantly filtering airborne pollutants out of the air. If they get too clogged, they’ll force your furnace to work harder than it should. This can not only result in higher energy costs, but a decreased furnace lifespan as well.

Changing your filter isn’t hard. Just make sure you get the right type of replacement filter and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for changing it. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, call an HVAC company like Allbritten to change it for you.

Schedule a home energy audit and lower your heating costs this winter and in coming winters.

Schedule a home energy audit and lower your heating costs this winter and in coming winters.

Add more insulation where needed

If you haven’t done so yet, you should figure out if your home’s insulation meets standards in your area. Older homes often have insufficient insulation, which can allow hot air to escape.

You can add more insulation to your attic, walls, and even your garage. The cost of such a project can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on how much insulation you need to add.

Get regular furnace tune-ups

One of the best ways to lower your heating bill is to get a furnace tune-up. Just as cars tend to run better when they are maintained, HVAC systems tend to work better when they get regular tune-ups. Call Allbritten today if your furnace needs maintenance. You can also at your convenience.

Here are 4 reasons you should upgrade to a smart thermostat

Are you on the hunt for ways to make your home more energy efficient this summer? One of the best places to start is with our 26-point home energy audit. A common post-audit recommendation our team often has for the homeowners we work with is to look into installing a smart thermostat. While not as impactful as upgrading an older air conditioner or having our team add insulation, these new thermostats can help Fresno homeowners save money and boost their indoor comfort.

In this article, we’ll review what smart thermostats are, the benefits of switching, and why you should contact Allbritten for professional thermostat installation here in Fresno.

Have Allbritten install a new smart thermostat like this model in your home.

Smart thermostats allow you to have greater control over your comfort, while helping to save you money every month.

What are smart thermostats?

Smart thermostats do more than just manually control the temperature of your home. At a baseline, all of the devices of this type on the market allow homeowners to schedule the comfort level of their home ahead of time, accounting for when they’re regularly away (such as an 8-hour workday) or on vacation. However, many have even more advanced features, which we’ll get into in the sections below.

With an older, manual-entry thermostat, you’d have to remember to turn the air conditioning off when you left the house and back on when you arrived back home. As it turns out, people with busy lives are not very good at remembering to do minor, repetitive tasks. A lot of household energy waste occurs when a homeowner with a standard thermostat forgets to raise the temperature setting when leaving the house. The AC unit works hard to cool an empty home, resulting in both wasted electricity and more overall wear-and-tear on the unit.

A smart thermostat removes this responsibility from your brain and automates it. Over time, this will save you money.

Why upgrade to a smart thermostat?

There are many reasons to upgrade to a smart thermostat. Here are just a few of the primary benefits of doing so:

Energy savings

A smart thermostat can save you hundreds on your cooling and heating bills over the lifespan of the thermostat. That may not seem like a lot of money, but considering the relatively low installation price (more on this below) and the added convenience and comfort factors, it means that this investment will eventually pay for itself through your reduced energy bills. If you want to cut your summer electric bills here in Fresno, we recommend taking a look into what smart thermostats can do for your home.

The very best smart thermostats have learning technology that allows them to analyze your energy use and then find ways to make your home’s cooling and heating even more efficient.

Convenience

Many smart thermostats are internet-connected devices with corresponding apps and software. This means that you can control the temperature of your home from anywhere. Forget to turn off the AC while you’re away on vacation this summer? You can adjust the temperature setting from your smartphone. Many of these thermostats can be linked to voice-activated devices, which means you can adjust your thermostat while cooking dinner or spending time with your family in another room.

Comfort

This type of thermostat can be set to cool down your home 30 minutes before you arrive, ensuring that you don’t open your front door to a blast furnace of hot, stuffy air. You can customize your thermostat’s schedule to your exact comfort needs. Like to sleep in the cold? Set your thermostat to start cooling down your home a bit more at 9 p.m., but then turn off at midnight once you’re asleep. The potential to build your thermostat’s schedule around your life is endless.

Cost

A smart thermostat is actually one of the less expensive energy-efficiency upgrades you can make in your home. For example, if Pacific Gas & Electric is your utility company here in Fresno, you should check out their smart thermostat rebate program. By joining their energy incentive program, they will give you up to $100 back on your purchase. Considering that many of these thermostats retail at $150-$300, this rebate could cover a significant portion of the purchase.

Call Allbritten for professional installation

Not all thermostats—smart or standard—are compatible with all HVAC systems or pre-existing thermostat wiring. The team at Allbritten can provide you with more information about what thermostats will work in your home. We provide professional installation if you’d like us to expertly install your new thermostat for you and ensure that it’s working in sync with your air conditioner and furnace.

To schedule service here in Fresno and the Central Valley, contact us today!

A home maintenance budget and plan can help protect your cooling and heating systems

Save money this summer with a spring energy audit

Even homeowners who think their home is generally efficient are often surprised to learn just how much more efficient their home could be. Here’s the bottom line: your home is probably wasting a lot of your home every single month. With a spring energy audit from the BPI-certified experts here at Allbritten, you can put your home (and your wallet) on the road to significant summer energy savings.

To book your home energy audit here in Fresno, contact our team. We’ll go through the details of our test and how the process works.

Why schedule a spring energy audit?

Call Allbritten to schedule your spring energy audit

Call Allbritten to schedule your spring energy audit, and you can plan on saving energy throughout the entire year!

#1. Identify areas where you can save money

Every homeowner wants to find ways to put a little more back into their wallet each month. A home energy audit is a great way to identify the “low-hanging fruit” that can yield immediate, permanent savings. For example, the audit might point out that cooled air is escaping through cracks around the window frame. About 20 cents of caulk later, and you’re on the road to summer savings. Here’s the bottom line: an audit is worth the upfront cost because it yields monthly savings for years to come.

#2. Boost your home’s value

A home energy audit can help you lift your home’s efficiency, which in itself is a great boost to your value. However, the audit may also identify other places where you can make high return-on-investment moves. For example, more and more homeowners are switching out their older manual thermostats for smart, programmable ones. These help you save money and stay comfortable! Similarly, a home energy audit can identify which of your older appliances are energy hogs, and which ones you should target to replace first.

#3. Take advantage of rebates and incentives

Both the federal government, the state of California, and many utilities here in Fresno offer rebates and incentives to homeowners who make their homes more energy-efficient. Be sure to check out the Energy Upgrade California program offered by Pacific Gas & Electric. You may find that making your home energy-efficient costs a lot less than you initially thought!

#4. Get more out of your air conditioner

By reducing the amount of cooling your home needs to be comfortable, a home energy audit can also reduce the cooling burden on your air conditioner over the summer. That means lower energy bills, a reduced risk of a breakdown, and a longer system lifespan. Pair those benefits with those of our seasonal AC tune-up service, and you and your air conditioner will be set for a perfect summer.

Call Allbritten to schedule your spring energy audit

Contact the BPI-certified professionals at Allbritten to schedule your spring energy audit. Our thorough experts will conduct a detailed test to discover places where you can make your home more energy-efficient and save money. We can also help complete the work in the event that you want to get your home ready for the summer ahead!

Here are three reasons to schedule an energy audit

You can save money, have a more comfortable home, and help your air conditioner last longer. It all starts when you schedule an energy audit with the pros at Allbritten.

In this blog, we’ll talk about home energy audits and what makes them such a smart investment for homeowners.

What is an energy audit?

Allbritten is a Home Performance company with BPI-certified technicians. Our 26-point home energy audit helps Fresno homeowners find points of inefficiency in their home, which we then help them address.

From a whole-home pressure test to an evaluation of your attic and attics with an infrared camera, we thoroughly and completely evaluate your home.

Here are the three reasons to schedule an energy audit

Knowledge is power. By knowing where your home is losing energy, you can take action. Let’s review just some of the reasons you should schedule an energy audit.

#1. Lower your energy bills

A professional energy audit from the BPI-certified professionals at Allbritten can help you identify areas where your home is losing energy—and you’re losing money.

From a poorly insulated attic to inefficient systems, an energy audit points you in the direction of savings. Our tech will present you with a detailed report explaining places for improvement.

#2. Make your home more comfortable

Energy loss and energy inefficiency isn’t just about your monthly bills. It can make your home feel uncomfortable and drafty. Efficiency and comfort go hand-in-hand, which is why an energy audit from Allbritten can find ways to improve your home’s comfort.

#3. Reduce wear-and-tear on your air conditioner

The more your air conditioner runs in the summer, the more wear-and-tear it endures. This continual running can result in the need for AC repair more often, and—ultimately—decrease the lifespan of your system.

A home energy audit can help you determine where (and how) your home is losing energy. By addressing these issues, you can relieve pressure on your air conditioner, which doesn’t have to run as long to cool your home in the summers here in Fresno.

Paired with an AC tune-up from our experienced techs here at Allbritten, your air conditioner will be in better shape, run more efficiently, and be less likely to break down.

Schedule an energy audit with Allbritten

If you’re ready to make your home more energy-efficient and comfortable, it’s time to contact Allbritten and schedule an energy audit. Give us a call at (559) 292-4919 to get started.

What to look for in a whole home energy audit

No matter how much you conserve and even try to go without turning on your AC or gas, your monthly energy bills are out of control. If you feel like your home is leaking money, it might very well be. An energy inefficient home could have ineffective or deficient insulation, poor ducts, or even leaks that are sapping away your heating and cooling. The best way to identify and address these issues is through a comprehensive whole home energy audit.

HVAC FREE Home Energy Evaluation

What is an energy audit?

Many homes have energy inefficiencies for a variety of reasons, whether it’s just the age of the house, or previous contractors didn’t fix things right. Even seemingly minor issues, however, could be putting tremendous strain on your AC unit or furnace to keep up, costing you money every month and putting considerable wear-and-tear on your residence’s HVAC system.

What should I look for in a good home energy audit?

A good home energy audit is different from an AC or heating system tune-up. Rather, it inspects the entire system to make sure everything is functioning like it should. Here are some of the specific things that a home energy audit from Allbritten contains:

  • An analysis of how your entire home interacts: A good home energy audit will test air flow in accordance with building science and what you have in your home. This full, detailed assessment will help the technician identify and pinpoint issues.
  • A detailed inspection of your system: Allbritten, for instance, uses a 26-point inspection system, to make sure nothing gets left out of the picture. When our industry-trained technicians look over your home, they don’t want to leave any stone unturned.
  • A roadmap for moving forward: We’ll sit down with you after the inspection to let you know what we’ve found, and how we’d like to address it. This will include upfront pricing, as well as what we project your energy savings might be with the fix.
  • Options: Home improvements to increase energy efficiency can range from the quick and inexpensive to more significant renovations. Unlike most companies that perform home energy audits, Allbritten will help you try to find government grants or utility company incentives to offset the cost of the repairs.
  • One company: Some companies farm out the work for renovations and repairs to other contractors. Not so with Allbritten. From start-to-finish, we do all of our work in-company, which saves you money, as well as the time and the hassle of having multiple contacts.

What are some other reasons to choose Allbritten?

One of our strongest values as a company is that we treat our employees with the respect and integrity they deserve, so that they do the same for you—the customer. Our technicians are trained to meet industry-leading standards, and undergo evaluation regularly. We pride ourselves on keeping up with the latest methods and information available in the HVAC industry.

If you’re ready to see how much you can save with a home energy audit, schedule your whole home energy audit with us. Or, give us a call at (559) 823-5146. We look forward to helping you!