Home Comfort USA Blog

Home Comfort USA Helps to Alleviate Childhood Poverty

August 8th, 2017

Boy and Girl of Compassion InternationalAs member of the Southern California Community, Home Comfort USA is proud of the work done every day in servicing and installing heating and air conditioning systems, but Ken Starr of Home Comfort USA has a wider vision and strives to do something bigger. Leveraging success and goodwill back home, Ken works with ministries and non-profits both locally and internationally to help improve the lives of those who need help the most.

Little Boy of Compassion InternationalThis is seen in the sponsorship of Compassion International in particular. Working with Compassion International, Home Comfort USA has been able to support and help lift multiple children out of poverty. Sponsoring children in Bolivia, Thailand, Colombia, El Salvador, and the Philippines, Ken Starr of Home Comfort USA and his team have provided ongoing support and continue to strive to do more.

During each month, the top performing Home Comfort USA team member is selected to choose a child they will sponsor. Home Comfort makes that sponsorship for one year, proud to involve the entire team in such good work.

About Compassion International

Boy and Girl of Compassion InternationalCompassion International was founded more than 60 years ago when Reve. Everett Swanson grew concerned over the number of orphans he saw living in the streets of Seoul following the Korean War. From his first efforts in starting a Korean Orphanage to creation of the program that would allow people back west to sponsor and support individual children with education, food, shelter, clothing and medical care, he created what is today Compassion International.

Today the team at Compassion International offer programs to the poorest children with the greatest need, devoted to those of all faiths, backgrounds, cultures, and races to ensure they can be lifted out of poverty. Partnering with individuals and businesses, Compassion International connects individual children across the globe who are in the greatest need, and is an organization Home Comfort USA is proud to be associated with.

Changing the World for the Better

By working with Compassion International, as well as other ministries and non-profits like The Sheepfold locally and Awaken, Home Comfort USA has been able to give back in ways that Ken and his team have long dreamed of. It allows them to show just how much they care about the community and those beyond their community alike, and won’t stop with just one child helped or just one charity drive. It’s a lifelong effort with a wide vision for betterment in the lives of others.

Learn more about how Ken Starr and Home Comfort USA works with the community in the southern California area, as well as internationally to help support those who are most in need.

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Working with Awaken to Stop Commercial Sexual Exploitation

August 7th, 2017

Awaken LogoOne of the most important things Ken Starr and the team of Home Comfort USA strive for is to be an active member of the community, both in Southern California and outside of it. Proud of their dedication to excellence in providing heating and air conditioning installation and service in the region, they strive to do more and give back in as many ways as possible.

This has become evident in the myriad ways that Ken Starr has led his Home Comfort USA team to support the community, including ongoing support and sponsorship of Awaken – an organization focused on eradicating commercial sexual exploitation.

In addition to several other organizations with which Ken and Home Comfort USA have worked over the last several years, Awaken represents an opportunity to give back and make the lives of those less fortunate better. With 257 girls helped to date through the efforts of Home Comfort USA, lives have been bettered.

About Awaken

Help Awaken End Child ExploitationAwaken works to transform the community with the goal of eradicating commercial sexual exploitation. By uniting communities against sex trafficking, Awaken helps the victims of this exploitation to be restored to their fullest potential and live lives that are as fulfilling as they can be. Founded by Melissa Holland and Jen Robinson, Awaken has been helping women to escape commercial sexual exploitation and counselling them to regain their lives since 2011.

Help AwakenToday, Awaken works toward their goals in a number of ways. By providing direct services to women and girls eager to escape CSE, they are able to provide transitional housing and transportation, financial aid, legal and medical assistance, counselling and mentorship. Their drop in center, opened in January 2016 provides an easy access point to these services, and ongoing prevention and education programs in local schools helps to ensure students understand the realities of sex trafficking and how to prevent it from happening.

Working to Improve the Lives of Our Community

Ken Starr and Home Comfort USA are dedicated to making the community a better place for everyone in it, and to helping the women and girls who find themselves in a life they do not want to lead. By supporting Awaken, along with other local and international efforts to support the poorest and neediest among us, Home Comfort USA hopes to give back and make the world a better place.

Learn more about Home Comfort USA and their efforts locally with the Sheepfold, and internationally with Compass International and other ministries and non-profits.

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The Benefits of Upgrading Your Entire HVAC System at Once

July 13th, 2017

Ducted Air Cycling in HomeThere are many different layouts and permutations for HVAC systems. Whether you have a traditional air conditioner combined with a gas or electric heating system, or a hybrid heat pump or individual heating and cooling units, most people think of heating and cooling separately. The maintenance is different separately, and the upgrades and repairs are often done separately.

But there are many benefits to combining your HVAC system maintenance and eventual upgrades into a single action, from cost reduction to greater overall efficiency.

Accurate Sizing for Your System

Benefits of Upgrading Your Entire HVAC SystemIf the time has come to replace your air conditioner or heating system, you likely need a professional to come to your home and size the system to ensure it accurately matches the square footage of your home. By having everything sized at the same time, you can ensure accuracy for both systems, especially if your other system was improperly sized and has been inefficient for some time.

While most heating systems last for upwards of 20 years or longer, the average air conditioner should be replaced after 10-15 years. As such, even if your system is not quite ready for replacement, it may be close, and if it’s also become inefficient, it’s worth considering replacement.

Purchasing a Matched System

By purchasing matching air conditioning and heating systems, you can benefit substantially from greater efficiency ratings. Matched systems will use the same air handler, which will allow you to reduce overall equipment and energy costs, and they are designed to work together, meaning less wear and tear on the parts needed for both systems, and greater overall performance year round.

Replacing a single unit in your overall HVAC system means that the remaining units may become less efficient because they are not designed by the manufacturer specifically to work together. While the difference is not often substantial, it can add up over time and if you are close to a replacement anyways, it’s worth considering the dual upgrade. Warranties may work together in a matched system as well, another important cost saving factor.

Reduced Installation Costs

Save Energy Costs With Combined HVAC SystemThe third area in which you can save money is the actual installation process. Because of the complexity of installing a new HVAC system, you can save a lot of money by having both systems installed simultaneously. Access to core HVAC components, upgrades to ductwork and air handlers, and other changes can all be done together instead of duplicating effort in a few short years.

While it doesn’t always make sense to upgrade both your heating and air conditioning systems at the same time, there are many situations when it does. If both systems are close to their natural lifespan, the efficiency just isn’t there anymore, or if one or both was improperly sized and installed when initially purchased, consider the cost and energy savings of purchasing a matched system that will work together for decades to come.

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Tips for Staying Cool on the 4th of July

July 3rd, 2017

Tips for Staying Cool on the 4th of JulyThe 4th of July and the vacation days ahead are among the highlights of the summer. It’s a chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy the company of friends and family on a hot summer day. But, being home more and having people over can mean a lot more work for your HVAC system this time of year as well.

So, how do you keep everyone cool and comfortable without spending a fortune on your cooling bill? Here are several things you can do this summer to say cool and enjoy your holiday festivities.

Use Fans and Blinds
Use Fans and Blinds to Help Stay CoolOne of the most effective ways to reduce the impact of the sun on your cooling system is to block it out. Installing awnings or shades at the start of summer is a great start, but if you haven’t done that this year, closing the blinds or pulling the curtains is the next best step. Blocking sunlight has a huge impact on how much solar radiation can enter your home and in turn how much heat your cooling system has to remove.

At the same time, portable fans are a great way to keep air moving and take the edge off of the summer sun without blasting your air conditioner down to 69 degrees. With most of your guests spending the majority of their time outside, consider turning your air conditioner up to 76 degrees and using portable fans to help take the edge off and move air around the house.

Stay Hydrated
Hydration is a big must, especially with long hours spent outside enjoying the sun and heat. Dehydration can ruin an old fashioned barbecue in no time so make sure everyone has access to cold, non-caffeinated beverages. 1-2 glasses of water every hour or two or a sports drink with electrolytes will keep people cool and hydrated. It can also take the edge off of the heat and ensure no one is uncomfortable inside if you have your cooling system turned down a bit.

Cook Outdoors to Avoid Heating Up the Inside of the HouseUse the Grill for Everything
If you’re having a barbecue, why not use it for everything? The oven or stove can introduce a lot of heat in your home that the air conditioner will be forced to work against. By cooking your vegetables and side dishes on the grill along with the meat, you can keep from turning on the stove or oven, stay outside for longer, and create a memorable dish all at the same time.

If you have dishes that just don’t work outside, consider revising your menu. It’s a holiday after all! Corn on the cob, burgers, chips, grilled vegetables, and sandwiches – all ready to serve or grill-ready and much easier to cook outside without cranking up the heat indoors.

Stay Cool and Enjoy the 4th!

It may be hot outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend more for your cooling system for the holidays. Prepare for your guests with outdoor friendly food and drinks, block the sun inside, and you can make the most out of your holiday bash.

And if you’re concerned that your air conditioner isn’t up to the task and may need a tune up or repairs for the busy months head, give us a call. We can take a look and ensure it’s running at peak efficiency, keeping guests cool and your bills low.

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Development for a Bangladesh Community Center

June 30th, 2017

One of the most rewarding parts of business is being able to build on previous success and help others. Ken did just that at the beginning of 2017, visiting Bangladesh. After seeing the need in the communities he visited, Ken felt a burning desire to do something more and partnered with a local pastor to help mothers and their children living in poverty.

Bangladesh Children Studying in Classroom

The goal was to provide daily support and autonomy to women and their children who struggled daily and were often pushed into lives they did not control. Ken and Home Comfort USA could fully fund and build a community center within this community – a brothel area in Bangladesh.

The Goal of the Bangladesh Community Center

The new community center was designed to support education and daily activity for the children in this community. Providing daily school and devotionals, the community center has become an important part of the region.

Home Comfort USA is proud to have fully funded the teachers’ salary, daily meals, shoes and clothing for the children in the area, many of whom had none of these things previously. By partnering and working with local pastors, we were able to identify the core needs of the community and provide support in the way that could help most.

Our Brothel Children in Bangdalesh

 

The Needs are Still Many

While the community center is complete and there has been some relief for those living here, there are still many needs with several additional projects pending.

Beyond support in daily life, our goal is to bring self-dependency to the women here who currently work in prostitution to support their families. To do this, three acres of land are needed, on which they can farm goats, cattle, fish, and chickens. By providing a space to earn a living and a source of new livelihood, the goal is to support these women in being with their children and living independent lives.

In addition to the land and means to support themselves, basic services such as a free medical camp are needed in the region as well. This medical camp would serve more than 400 women and children with 4 MBBS Doctors, Dentists, Women’s Specialists, Nurses, and Pharmacists. While volunteers have already stepped forward, funds are needed to support the camp expenses and ensure the resources are in place to provide for the community center expansion.

Our Brothel Children With Their Class Teacher

The Future for a Community Looking Forward

Ken was touched by his time spent in Bangladesh, and Home Comfort USA has been able to provide something in the lives of a community of women that struggles to make ends meet, resorting to prostitution just to care for their children. It’s heartening to see children in this community have a place to attend school and pursue a future, and we hope and pray for the support needed to take the next step in providing more resources to this community.

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3 Household Improvements that Improve Cooling Efficiency

June 28th, 2017

It’s the heart of the summer and that means hefty electricity bills as your air conditioner works hard to keep your home cool and comfortable.

And while air conditioning is an absolute necessity in Southern California in July, there are several things you can do around the house that will help to improve the efficiency of your cooling system and reduce those costs.

Attic Insulation and Venting

Install Window Shades to Reduce Sun ExposureWhile whole house insulation has less of an impact on cooling costs than it does on heating costs, your attic is another story. Attic temperatures in the heart of the summer can reach 150 degrees or higher without proper venting, and that heat can seep into your home and force your air conditioner to work even harder.

The typical attic has an existing 4-inch batt of insulation in the attic floor, which provides an R-value of R-13. Southern California is in Climate Zone 3 and it is recommended that your attic have an insulation value of R30-R60 to ensure optimal performance in all weather conditions. Blown insulation to reach these recommendations can cost less than $1,000 and greatly improve performance for your home.

In addition to attic insulation, which is important for both summer and winter weather, an attic fan that vents warm air can help to equalize attic temperatures to match outside, ensuring it never gets above the high temperature.

Reduce Sun Exposure

Attic Insulation Improves Home Energy EfficiencyYour home absorbs surprisingly little heat, especially with any amount of insulation, so the most important thing you can do to reduce the workload of your air conditioner is to reduce the amount of sunlight exposure in your home.

Cover or eliminate south facing windows, install shades and awnings to block direct sunlight – something you can do only for the hottest summer months – and plant trees that provide ample shade. These simple tasks can greatly reduce sun exposure, increasing air conditioner efficiency throughout the hotter months of the year.

Maintain and Replace Your Air Conditioner on Time

While upgrades and sunlight management in your home can greatly reduce the external load put on your air conditioner, it won’t do much if your air conditioner is overdue for maintenance or ready for a replacement.

Modern air conditioners offer efficiency ratings as much as 2-3x systems that are 10 or more years old. That means a substantial upgrade that can pay for itself in just a few years. At the same, improperly cleaned and maintained air conditioners in need of air filter replacement, line cleaning or replacement, or general maintenance can see efficiency drops of 30% or more.

A simple annual tune-up for your full HVAC system will ensure it is in top condition when the hottest months arrive. And if your system is ready for a complete replacement, you can give us a call and ask to speak with one of our cooling specialists about the options currently available.

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Reducing Energy Consumption With a New HVAC System

June 23rd, 2017

Reduce Energy Costs With New HVAC SystemWe’re now entering the hottest time of the year and that means many of you are starting to receive those first inflated electricity bills. Energy consumption and expenses associated with managing your HVAC system can be a real concern, and there are far too many options for handling them.

While many people research more advanced systems such as solar to improve overall energy efficiency for their homes, one of the most effective things you can do is to upgrade your HVAC system. Modern systems are more efficient, less prone to repairs and extra maintenance, and generally friendlier on your wallet, saving up to 45% on your energy costs.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your HVAC System for Energy Efficiency

Older HVAC systems, even if still in good working order are generally less efficient than modern systems with Energy Star ratings. If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, it’s likely that it uses far more energy to cool your house than a newer system would.

Just how much of a difference can you expect when upgrading your system, though?

Older HVAC systems can have many issues. Yours may be improperly sized for your home, poorly installed, or improperly maintained by the prior owners. It may simply be an older model that didn’t utilize the same technologies as today’s most efficient systems.

An upgrade to one of the more efficient systems on the model can improve the energy consumption rate for your home by between 20-45%. That’s a huge difference for a system that is on for months at a time each year.

Choosing the Right HVAC Replacement

There are several factors to consider when choosing an HVAC replacement. Some of the most important include:

  • Efficiency Rating – If your system is old enough, even the most basic models will be more efficient. But for top rated Energy Star models, the savings can be substantially higher. A top of the line HVAC system can be as much as 15% more efficient than standard models.
  • System Sizing – The size of your system is equally important. A common mistake is to choose a system that is bigger than your home needs. This leads to frequent cycling as the system turns off and on, resulting in excess energy use, condensation in the home, and possible issues like mold growth. Professional installers can size a system for your home that is a perfect fit for your square footage and usage.
  • Proper Installation – Improper installation can result in as much as a 30% decrease in efficiency in your system. Work with a licensed professional to ensure it is properly installed for optimal performance.

Keeping Your New System Efficient

Energy StarOnce you’ve installed a new HVAC system, the energy savings will be substantial, on par or beyond what you would get from other major upgrades in your home.

But it’s important to keep your system operating at peak efficiency to avoid a drop off in that consumption rate over time. Routine maintenance to keep every part of your system in top condition, regular inspection throughout the year by yourself, and prompt repairs if a problem does occur will all help to keep your HVAC system running smoothly.

If you are tired of your excessive energy bills from cooling and would like to learn more about how a top of the line Energy Star rated HVAC system can help to reduce your costs, we can help.

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5 Indoor Air Quality Tips for a Long Summer

May 27th, 2017

Fresh Air Home COmfort USAWith windows sealed tight for the long summer ahead, it’s a good time to think about indoor air quality and what it can mean for the health of you and your family.

While most people think only of pollution as an outdoor problem – a cloud lingering near the highway – the truth is that indoor air can be just as polluted (if not more so). Potentially dangerous pollutants like lead, formaldehyde, radon, and chemicals from cleaners and fragrances are all possible threats. It doesn’t take an old home or dangerous mix to bring them out either. New furniture, paint, or cleaning chemicals all carry particles you don’t want to breathe if you can help it.

And that’s not to mention common household contaminants like dust mites, mold and pet dander. People with allergies or asthma can be directly affected by poor indoor air quality, but so too can otherwise healthy adults if you don’t take the steps necessary to keep the air inside clean. Here are five tips to do just that and ensure you remain cool and healthy all summer.

Floor Cleanliness

The most common source of outdoor contamination is your feet (and your pets). So frequent vacuuming with a HEPA filter equipped vacuum cleaner, mopping to remove dust and dirt that your vacuum misses, and prevention can all be helpful.

welsome mat Home Comfort USAA good mat outside the doors of your home will ensure people bring in as few outside pesticides and pollutants as possible while removing shoes and outdoor clothing at the door will keep what is left from spreading when they come inside.

Humidity Control

Humidity isn’t a major problem in Southern California, but if it does increase above 50% and you don’t have a system in place to effectively manage it, dust mites and mold can thrive. Ideal indoor humidity levels should be between 30% and 50% to reduce the risk of these contaminants from spreading.

Your air conditioning will handle dehumidification on hot days when it is on, but for cooler, rainy days, a dehumidifier installed with your air filter and HVAC system can continue removing moisture from the air without overcooling your house and racking up a large bill.

Other possible sources of humidity to watch for include lack of exhaust in the kitchen or bathroom, overwatered plants indoors, leaky plumbing and air conditioners and humidifiers that are not properly drained.

Reduce Chemical Use for Cleaning

There’s a good chance you grew up in a home with a particular scent – a lemony fresh zing that accompanied the early evening after counters had been wiped or floors mopped.

We now know, however, that these cleaners and the fragrances that they are treated with are full of chemicals. The gasses, chemicals and particles released by these cleaners can be hidden as well, rarely shown on the labels. Dozens of VOCs have been found in even common air fresheners, some of which may even be considered toxic.

To avoid the potential risk of contamination from these chemicals, look for fragrance-free laundry and cleaning products, find cleaning products without fragrances at all, and don’t use any form of aerosol sprays if you can avoid them.

Opening windows when cleaning can also reduce the risk of potentially hazardous chemicals lingering in the air, and you can switch to fresh scents from lemons, baking soda, and plants to freshen your home instead of a canned fragrance.

Improving Air Quality for a Better Home

There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of pollutants that might be toxic to your family and pets. By checking labels, cleaning carefully, and controlling humidity you can reduce these risks significantly.

In addition, consider installation of a HEPA rated air quality control system for your HVAC system. Air filtration attached to your air conditioner and heating system can actively remove these particles from the air and improve air quality in your home year round.

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Charity Drive for the Sheepfold is a Huge Success

May 19th, 2017

Since founding Home Comfort USA in 2013, Ken Starr, has always strived to be different. To provide a service that goes above and beyond expectations, and that brings people together. So, it was no surprise that, this last year, Ken and the employees of Home Comfort USA gathered together to support the efforts of the Sheepfold, a charity organization focused on supporting homeless, abused, and forsaken women with children.

Ken Starr and Home Comfort USA Stuff a Truck Event For Sheepfold

The Stuff a Comfort Van campaign took place throughout the Christmas season and was a huge success, gathering a van full of toys, household goods and toys for families in the sheepfold for the holidays.

Stuff a Comfort Van Charity Drive

The women in the sheepfold are part of a multi-month program that helps them pick up the pieces of a shattered life, providing the resources needed to regain independence and ensure they are never again tempted to return to the abusive relationships from which they recently escaped just to put food on the table or clothing on their children.

For this reason, it’s incredibly important that there are ample resources available, and Home Comfort USA founder, Ken Starr wanted to do what he could to give back and help support this effort. To do so, he gathered the employees of the company and volunteered to fill a comfort van with goodies needed by these families during the holiday season. Some of the things gathered for the campaign included:

  • Ken Starr and Home Comofrt USA Stuff a Truck EventGift cards to local department stores, grocery stores, and others for necessary staples
  • Toddler and infant clothing for both boys and girls
  • Toys and games for children for the holidays
  • Basic personal care products, including personal hygiene products and blankets
  • Children’s scooters and bicycles

The result was a huge success – a filled van with donations that would go to women and their children in need throughout the Orange County area.

About the Sheepfold

Founded in 1979, the Sheepfold has been a champion for abused and forsaken women for nearly 40 years, helping them to find shelter, start new lives, and maintain independence. It’s not just about providing resources to survive, but to ensure that, during the course of a six-month program, they have what they need to regain independence and take care of themselves and their children.

But for the Sheepfold to succeed, help from the community is a must. These families need a lot of resources – from personal care items to clothing, blankets, coats, and groceries. They rely a lot on the efforts of their volunteers and donations from community members to fulfill their mission.

It’s for this reason that Home Comfort USA was so proud to gather and help during the Christmas season, gathering goods that would be used to help these families restart their lives and enjoy the holidays.

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Five Ways to Boost Energy Savings from Your HVAC System this Summer

May 19th, 2017

With summer just around the corner and temperatures rising in Southern California, your HVAC system is about to be put through its paces, and that means higher energy bills for at least the next three months. But there are things you can do to keep that from happening – ways you can boost your energy savings and reduce the load on your air conditioning. Let’s take a closer look at five such ways and how you can implement them before the hottest parts of the year arrive.

Careful Maintenance and Preparation

The easiest way to ensure your HVAC system operates only as much as is needed is to have routine maintenance performed every year. Whatever type of system you have, Orange County residents put a lot of wear and tear on their air conditioners, meaning annual maintenance for a standalone system, or semi-annual maintenance for a full HVAC system.

Preventive maintenance with a service provider will ensure your system is clean and ready for the heaviest load of mid-summer, replacing parts before they fail, and checking for potential leaks or component problems.

Take Care of Drafts

One of the easiest ways to generate significant energy savings from your HVAC system is to have your home thoroughly inspected for drafts and old or ineffective insulation. You can hire an energy auditor to visit your home and perform the necessary calculations to determine if your insulation is efficient for the size and type of home you are cooling.

At the same time, common issues like drafty windows and doors can increase your annual energy costs by a fortune if you’re not careful. Keep all doors and windows sealed when operating your HVAC system, have weather seals installed on windows, and check for any old windows or doors that may need to be replaced.

Manage Your Thermostat

wifi thermostatWant to use less energy cooling your home? Then turn down your system. Thermostat control is a huge factor in the energy consumption of your HVAC system, but it can be difficult. Thermostats turned up too high at night or left on during the day when the home is empty can be costly mistakes, even more so if your home has multiple thermostats that you don’t always control.

Turning up your thermostat to 74 instead of 70 for a few hours a day can be a huge help, but so too can having a programmable thermostat installed that will do this for the entire house automatically every day. Automatic thermostats can be set for weekdays versus weekends, overnight hours, and hours out of the house, as well as vacations.

Go Low Tech

Air conditioning so easy. Just flip a switch and it’s on – cooling the house in just a few minutes. But for days when the temperature isn’t out of control, there are low tech ways to cool things off that can save a lot of money.

Using curtains and blinds to block the sun on south-facing windows during the day, using fans or opening windows to let a breeze through the house – these are all good ways to tackle the temperature, especially early in the day before it gets too hot without cranking up the AC.

Operate at Optimal Efficiency

Your air conditioner has ideal conditions in which it is meant to operate. This relates to the load of the system, the frequency at which it turns on and off, and the air filtration you have installed. Make sure you are setting your HVAC system to the right settings, not cranking it way down when it’s hot out and forcing the system to work extra hard, but also not setting it so the system turns on and off frequently throughout the day, something that not only uses extra energy but puts real wear and tear on the system.

Smart HVAC Use Means Real Energy Savings

If you are tired of your exorbitant Orange County or Los Angeles energy bills and want to do something about it, now is the time to address the issues above that can have a huge impact. Even a few hours preparing for the summer each year can provide significant savings over the course of several months.

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