Archive for Heating

High Energy Bill Tips

James River Air’s 5 LOW- or NO-COST Things You Can Do Now To Increase HVAC Efficiency And Save Money Later.

More Than Half of Household Energy Use Comes from Heating and Cooling. 

Around this time of year, many of us take a look at our energy bill and ask: Why is it SO high? What can I do to lower my bill and improve home energy efficiency without sacrificing comfort?

Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Winter Fuels Outlook 2021 report, U.S. households that primarily heat with electricity can expect to spend 6% more than they spent last winter, on average.

And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling accounts for nearly HALF of a typical home’s energy usage. With HVAC energy consumption tied to the weather and seasonal fluctuations, it’s no wonder that Central Virginians are seeing sky-high energy bills this time of year.

So what can you do to maximize the efficiency of your home’s HVAC system, especially when temps are dropping and ice and snow are in the forecast? With proper care and maintenance, you can winterize your HVAC and ensure it’s running optimally. James River Air Conditioning has five no- or low-cost tips for saving energy in the winter so you don’t have to pay big bucks later on repairs or replacements.

  1. Make sure your air filter is clean – check it monthly and replace it regularly.
  2. Sub-freezing outside? Don’t crank the thermostat up to compensate; leave it at the same temperature you normally have it set. (The ideal winter thermostat temperature is 68 degrees.)
  3. Prevent HVAC unit damage by keeping snow or ice build-up off of your unit. Keep the unit clear with a soft brush or broom. (Never try to pick ice off with a sharp tool of any kind!)
  4. Check your exterior heating vents – snow or ice buildup can not only block but damage vents.
  5. Schedule annual preventive maintenance to ensure your HVAC system is running smoothly!

If you need help with your home energy bill, relief programs and services are available. Details from Dominion Energy: Energy Assistance | Virginia | Dominion Energy



Protecting Your HVAC System from Snow and Ice

With totals of 4 to 6 inches of snow and some localities receiving more, it is important as homeowners to take care of your HVAC system. Without the proper care and maintenance, winter storms can damage your HVAC system. To help be prepared for the current winter storm, we have tips on HVAC protection to keep you and your home safe and comfortable. Because YOUR comfort matters!

6 Tips to Protect your HVAC System

  1. Check your air filter to make sure your heating unit is in good operating condition.
  2. If you have a furnace, make sure you know where your flue location is and that it is clear of snow. High-efficiency furnaces use PVC exhaust piping which must be kept clear of snow.
  3. Do not let snow or ice build-up on your unit. Keep your HVAC unit clear with a soft broom. Never use any type of steel pick or pick to chisel ice off unit.
  4. An efficient way to get ice off your fan blades is using hot water.
  5. Check your exterior vents – snow or ice buildup can block your exterior heating vents and can be damaging.
  6. Schedule annual preventive maintenance to ensure your HVAC system is ready to keep you and your home warm and comfortable!

With professional service and expert care from our team of licensed technicians here at James River Air, we stand ready to take care of your HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, and Appliance needs. Give us a call if you have any other questions or would like to set up a service call today. 1-800-COMFORT.

Snow & Your Home Heating System

Please remember to make sure snow doesn’t affect your home heating system’s operation!

  • Make sure your gas flue vents are free of snow.  High-efficiency furnaces use PVC exhaust piping which must be kept clear of snow.
  • Brush any ice off your outdoor heat pump units.  Never try to pick ice off with a sharp tool of any kind!

Give us a call if you have any other questions or would like to set up a service call! 1-800-COMFORT.

Cold Weather Tips

Cold weather is here again, so it’s time again for us to give you a few tips on keeping your home safe and warm.


  1. In extreme conditions, leave your faucet dripping to guard against frozen pipes.
  2. Keep cabinet doors open in extreme cold so that warm air can circulate to the pipes.
  3. Turn the light on in the crawl space.
  4. Put a cover over any outdoor water spigots.


  1. Make sure your filter is clean.
  2. Don’t turn the thermostat up because it’s colder outside; leave it at the same temperature you normally have it set on.
  3. Get your unit(s) checked a minimum of once per year for proper, safe operation.
  4. Make sure your unit is clear of snow and ice.  Never try to remove ice from your unit with sharp objects or tools of any kind!

Need more tips?  Give us a call at (804) 358-9333 or send us an e-mail through our Contact Form!

Extreme Cold Weather Tips

With temperatures going below zero, we thought it would be a good time to remind you of a couple important things you should do around your home or business to prepare:

  • Make sure you know where your water cutoff is!  With these extreme temperatures, it’s possible a pipe could burst and you’ll want to be able to cut the water supply off fast.  When we perform our plumbing preventive maintenance checks, we label the cutoff so you can easily find it.
  • If you heat with oil, consider using fuel oil treatment.  If you have any moisture in your oil lines, it could freeze, preventing your furnace or boiler from heating.
  • Make sure the water is cut off to any outside faucets to prevent freezing.
  • You may only discover some leaks after temperatures warm up, when frozen pipes thaw.  As temperatures rise, be on the lookout for any hidden leaks.

Fall / Winter Tip:  Frozen Heat Pumps

Does your heat pump appear to be frozen?  There could be a problem with it, but don’t panic – it could be normal!  Read on to learn how to tell the difference between normal operation and a unit in need of repair.


Normal Heat Pump Operation

Heat pumps use refrigerant to absorb heat from outside air.  During this process, moisture that’s in the air can build up on the outdoor coils.  On very cold days, this buildup of moisture can freeze.  Your heat pump is able to deal with this ice buildup though during its defrost cycle, which lasts approximately 30 minutes.  When it goes into defrost mode, the heat pump basically works in cooling mode and uses heat from the refrigerant to help met the ice.  During this process, the electric strip heat keeps your home warm.


How to Know When There’s a Problem

If your heat pump is frozen and it doesn’t appear to be normal defrost operation, there could be a problem.  Causes of the problem could include airflow issues inside (like a dirty filter) or outside (snow or ice from a storm).


What to Do if There’s a Problem

Ice buildup can be removed from the top of your outdoor unit.  Sometimes a homeowner can remove it with a garden hose, but you never want to use a sharp object or your hands to try to get rid of it.  Sharp objects can damage the unit and hands can get injured!  If in doubt, have a qualified service technician take care of it.


If you experience a frozen heat pump and want to know if you need a service call or not, please give us a call or contact us via e-mail.

Gas Furnace Safety

The importance of a thorough inspection of gas heat exchangers prior to heating season is too often overlooked.  Your system may be heating fine, yet silently contaminating your house or building with carbon monoxide.

Only a professional inspection of your gas heating system from a qualified contractor, like James River Air, will protect you from this possible harm.  Below are some pictures of heat exchangers with cracks / holes that we found just this week!

Make sure you Halloween is a Happy one and not a Scary one!  Click here to schedule an inspection with one of our qualified technicians.

Cold Weather Coming – Helpful Tips

Here’s a helpful article from Southern Living with some tips on getting your home ready for winter.  Call or e-mail us to schedule a maintenance inspection of your home’s heating, plumbing, and electrical systems!

Heating Season is Almost Here!

It’s mid-September, so before you know it, it will be time to turn the heating system on at your home or business.  Now is a great time to contact James River Air to have your systems checked out – before you need them.  Call or e-mail us today to find out more about our maintenance plans!

Also, here’s a link to some great tips from ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) that will help you make sure you’re doing all you can to have your system working properly.

Check Your Systems Regularly!

We found this in the field today.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Have your system checked regularly.  This could easily cause serious damage to your equipment, not to mention higher cost of operation!