Archive for the ‘Boilers’ Category

Don’t eat your Boots

March 24, 2014

For those in the eastern part of the country, experiencing record breaking cold temperatures and another round of storms, you may be wondering if the continent has shifted north to the arctic, or if winter will ever go away. To cheer myself up, I’ve been reading a book called “The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage” by Anthony Brandt. Winter doesn’t seem so bad anymore, nor does Spring.

Wintering over in the arctic at -30F with your ship frozen in the ice just so you can go further North when it thaws seems… kind of crazy. It’s not for me, but what I did find fascinating with this history, was the ingenuity that came from these voyages over two centuries ago and how little it transferred to home.

One explorer, Captain Parry spent some time with a stove maker to design a better system that not only kept the ship warm and melted ice for the crew, but also handled condensation build up in their makeshift home for the winter. Below zero outside and 70 degrees inside must have felt pretty good. It was not simply a better stove. It was a system. Insulation was added, heat was distributed and in addition to comfort, they burned less fuel. Just like your home should be!

Brand writes: “Mr. Sylvester and Captain Parry had invented a remarkably efficient form of central heating. It’s a shame the system was not applied to British housing, which remained heated entirely by coal fireplaces into quite recent times.

Past explorations led to eating leather boots to survive and worse, and Captain Parry learned a thing or two. Don’t eat your boots to survive at home. Consider making your ship more bearable for the rest of this season and for the next! I’m guessing the good Captain made himself comfortable at home too.

Spring is coming!

 

Thanks,

Jason

image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AIcebergs.jpg

 

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Bird’s Nests and Broken Flues

December 6, 2013

We are well into the heating season for many areas of the country.  And recently we talked about

bird nesta clean and tune; the annual servicing of your heating equipment.    This can be done at any point in the year but some of us wait to the last minute to do it.  Some sign on with a service agreement so they don’t have to think about it.

Efficiency is a big part of getting your furnace or boiler running in top shape, but it’s important to check equipment attached to flues or chimneys to ensure that they are actually drafting properly.  The bird nest built over the summer in this home in Allentown Pa  caused a lot of problems for the residents, in particular potentially lethal levels of Carbon Monoxide.

Consider a BPI certified contractor capable of doing testing needed to ensure the worst case doesn’t happen.   Make nesting for the winter comfortable and safe!

Thanks,

Jason

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seggerde_Storchennest.JPG

Helping out the Orphans?

November 12, 2013

I’m not talking about the Oliver Twists of the world, but the orphans I’m referring may be in your home, in closets, basements and garages.

orphans

 

What I’m referring to is something our advisors come across in an energy audit on a regular basis, an orphaned appliance; usually it’s a naturally drafting water heater.   It means that the small flue that comes off of the orphaned appliance runs to a larger chimney that used to share another combustion appliance with.  Without the larger one to help, the orphaned appliance can struggle to draw properly.

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In fact it may not draw at all, which means the unhealthy combustion gasses will enter your home instead of exit it, that can be dangerous.

This is why it is so important to have a professional test the health and safety of equipment in your home as well as test the home itself and how it can influence the equipment.   Not every heating technician does this on a regular seasonal tune up.  Our energy advisors check for carbon monoxide in the equipment and throughout the home.  We check how fans and doors in the home interact with the area combustion appliances live. We keep an eye out for orphans every day do every day as BPI certified auditors.  There’s much more to a comprehensive energy audit than energy!

Help these orphans and help make your home a safer one!

Thanks,

Jason

 

Orphan flyer picture:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOrphan_train_flyer.jpg

Better late than later! It’s time again to think about a furnace tune-up!

October 22, 2013

You should get your furnace (or boiler) checked at least once a year (more if you burn oil) to make sure that it is operating safely and efficiently.

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An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say.  Preventive maintenance can help ensure that your furnace runs when it needs to.  You would be surprised how many service calls we get in the northeast on the first cold days of the year.  There is a spike in calls when we experience a deep cold snap too. This of course is not the time you want your furnace to go down!

By the end of September in the northern US, many contractors start getting backed up with service calls as you may have discovered if you tried to schedule one in the last few months.  As you head south, that shifts from October to even December (OK, Palm Springs doesn’t get backed up in heating season, which is why I for one, hope to visit!).

Get that furnace tuned-up BEFORE heating season kicks in and if it has in your neck of the woods, before it really gets cold!

Thanks,

Jason

 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASnowflakesWilsonBentley.jpg

Equipment: Reach for the stars!

September 18, 2013

I’ve been talking about the demonstration home at one of our locations lately, and ASI installed some great upgrades including a high efficiency water heater and HVAC system, Energy star appliances, and LED lighting.  We’ve discussed many of these things in the past because they make sense, especially when electric rates can be high.

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It’s a great idea to reduce the wattage of lights but who wants to read in the dark?  Lighting is like comfort, you don’t need to compromise in order to be more efficient.  When it comes to lighting, Lower wattage CFL’s and LED’s allow us the best of both worlds just like high efficiency equipment.  As an added bonus, the LED lighting that we install has a life of over 50,000 hours. That’s a lifetime for most people.

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They say HVAC is the heart of home performance and good equipment goes hand and hand with good buildings, these are stars that are both within your reach.

Thanks,

Jason

 

Welcome Gundlach’s! New to GreenHomes but 100 years in Business!

January 23, 2013

 

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It is an honor and a pleasure to welcome our latest partner Gundlach’s Plumbing & Sheet Metal to the GreenHomes America network where we can truly help fulfill their statement, “today’s technology with good old fashioned integrity.”  It is great to see our network grow in Southern California, with this new location in Bakersfield.

Gundlach’s is a plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning service provider, originating in 1900 as a plumbing repair shop.  They also provide remodeling services for bathrooms and kitchens; becoming a GreenHomes America partner, they will now include home energy retrofits, allowing homeowners to dramatically improve their home’s energy efficiency and comfort levels.

Ken Wonderly, Owner of Gundlach’s says “We feel that the home energy retrofit market is going to grow substantially over the next few years and we are very excited to be part of it”.  Too true, I can see it growing already.  Welcome aboard!

Find out more http://www.gundlachsservice.com/.

Thanks,

Jason

 

 

Energy Tax Credits for 2013: Available again!

January 9, 2013

greenhomes evergy infographic

One good result from the end of the year fiscal cliff hanger is an extension of the residential energy tax credit.

If you haven’t used it in the past, all the way back to 2006, there is a $500 tax credit for material costs of certain energy efficiency measures done to your home.

The American Taxpayer Relief Act extended the tax credit through 2013, making it retroactive from January 1, 2012. This means last year counts as well.

10% of the cost of materials, such as insulation, exterior windows, and doors that meet Energy Star requirements, can be used. Credits for window expenses are limited, as are AC units and furnaces, so a combination of improvements will help maximize what you can get, just perfect for home performance work on your home.

Check out http://www.irs.gov/ for more information. Or see the entire American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 here. Ask us we can help!

Thanks,
Jason

Have a Heart

November 26, 2012

Maybe you have a great HVAC company that services your equipment.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do, and kudos if you’ve found a good one.   With a good provider I like service agreements because you know your equipment is taken care of and in a cost effective way.  But a good HVAC contractor should consider the whole house when thinking of heating and cooling systems not just the box in the basement or the attic.

 

From the Building Performance Institute

 

As we go into fall and colder weather, it’s time for tune ups, and service calls, but what about the rest of your home as well.  Who is paying attention to that?  A heart works well when we take care of the rest of our body.  We eat well, exercise and get good sleep, but also protect ourselves from the cold.  Put on a cap, coat and boots before going outside or you’ll get sick right?

Is your HVAC company’s solution to comfort a bigger “heart”, more ducts, more baseboard,  more cooling, or does it consider a better house so that heart “fits” well and works as it should?  Keep in mind that the heart is a very important part, but it is part of the whole.  Taking care of the whole house can really make a difference, as they say, “Home is where the Heart is!”

Thanks,

Jason

Fall Clean Up!

November 16, 2012

In New England it is easy to see the seasons change. It’s a time of harvest and preparation for our comfort through the coldest part of the year.   There’s plenty to do outside the home never mind on the inside. 

 For one thing it is time to tune up the furnace or boiler before the heating season begins.    Preventative maintenance is a good thing and worth the minor expense to ward of a major one in the middle of the heating season.  With a contractor you trust, that clean and tune may be part of a service agreement and can save you even more.

Your heating system is not the only thing that should get a tune up though.  For many of us, it’s the home too!   Even with the cleanest running furnace or boiler in your home, it is important to consider how well the building is insulated, resists air leakage, deals with moisture and provides indoor air quality.   

Since heating systems and buildings interact with each other, it’s a great idea to consider treating them together.  Seek out certified and experienced heating and cooling technicians, and the same for your home.  Consider a BPI accredited contractor that will look at your home as a system and help you prepare for the coming season making it healthier, safer and more energy efficient.

Thanks,

Jason

Miracle material, modern curse: Pipe Wrapping Worries?

March 27, 2012

Boy that’s just ugly.

Older homes, especially ones that had steam systems, often had pipe insulation like this;  it looks a bit like white corrugated cardboard.  I suspect it was as much to protect people’s foreheads from being scalded as they walked through their basement as it was to deliver the heat where it needed to go!

Fairly effective as an insulator—with the pockets of air and resistance to high heat—Aircell type pipe insulation starts to be a concern in the home as it deteriorates.

Materials containing asbestos are troublesome if they can become “friable”.  This means something that was once considered solid can disintegrate quite easily.  Asbestos found in vermiculite is a problem because it may already be dust.  Pipe insulation made with asbestos breaks down over time and turns powdery when it is bumped.

Keep in mind that not all white pipe insulation contains asbestos, other materials are now used.  Asbestos was banned in the late ‘70s and should have been out of circulation by the early ‘80s.  The best course of action is to leave it alone if you’re not sure.  Leave it to the experts if it needs to be removed, they know what to do.  A healthy, energy efficient home is in reach; knowledge is half the battle.

Thanks,

Jason

Image used with permission by Asbestorama on Flickr.


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