Posts Tagged ‘boiler’

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

Energy Efficient Tax Credits For 2011 and 2012

March 20, 2012

It’s that time of year again, and although we have written about Energy Efficiency tax credits for 2011 before, if you had work done this past year, it might be time to review.  You can also go to our learning center for solutions to common problems we fix in homes just like yours, as well as links to our franchise locations; they can provide details about incentives available in their area.

Many of the federal tax credits ended in 2011, but not all of them.  What will continue for 2012, are credits for some renewable energy systems.  Solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, small wind systems, and geothermal heat pumps, are all eligible measures through 2016.  If you are thinking of alternatives, consider our interactive online home to get a better sense of whether or not these types of improvements are really what you need this year.

Alternative energy systems can be expensive, and it often makes the most sense to install them in homes that are very efficient from the start.  You might be surprised by what some simple measures can save you money.  Tax credit or not, insulation, air sealing and efficient heating and hot water systems can pay for themselves in short order.  Simple measures that cost less and save you more!

Thanks,

Jason

New York State Hurricane Relief Appliance Rebate Program

September 24, 2011

New York residents eligible for cash rebates to replace essential appliances damaged by Hurricanes Irene or Lee –

Parts of upstate New York were devasted by Hurricanes Irene and Lee which significant damage to many residents’ homes and properties – including their necessary appliances and equipment. Effective this week (Monday, September 19, 2011), Governor Andrew Cuomo launched an $8 million appliance rebate program to help those who sustained damages to their appliances and household equipment. This program is one of the many in place to help those affected by the storms recover as quickly as possible.

“Thanks to this program, homeowners in NY can make some good of a bad situation,” said Anthony Johnson, owner of A. Johnson Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, a Saratoga Springs-based company and GreenHomes America partner specializing in home energy assessments and upgrades. “These generous rebates not only save you money now, but with more energy-efficient appliances you’ll continue to save for the life of the appliance.”

New York Hurricane Appliance Rebate - Furnace, Boiler, Water Heater, RefrigeratorCandidates qualify by being a New York state resident and purchasing eligible ENERGY STAR® or high efficiency appliances to replace those damaged by the natural disasters.  Eligible products include refrigerators, clothes washers and dryers, dehumidifiers, furnaces, broilers and some water heaters. Rebates are substantial and range from $100 for a dehumidifier to $2,500 for a boiler. Purchases must be made on or after August 29, 2011 for those impacted by Irene and September 9, 2011 for those impacted by Lee. The U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program (SEP) provided the funds to be used for the program and rebates are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until they are exhausted.

“Many new appliances, like those with an ENERGY STAR® rating, are around 30 percent more efficient than older models,” adds Johnson. “If you replace three or four appliances with these more efficient models, that’s like eliminating an entire appliance from your energy bill.”

Those who wish to apply for the rebate can do so in one of two ways, either by filling out an application form on the rebate program website or calling the program hotline to fill out necessary information over the phone. One rebate per appliance is allowed and purchases must be made before applying.

For more information on this rebate program, please visit http://www.nysappliancerebates.com/ or call the program hotline at 1-877-NY-SMART.  Contact us in Central New York or the Saratoga-Capital District area to see how this might be leveraged as part of a broader home improvement to increase comfort and save energy.  (Doubly important for those who has with oil as oil prices remain very high.)

Heating Oil Prices Higher—Insulate Yourself from High Heating Bills.

September 21, 2011

Nights are getting cooler.  Heating season is on the way.  And folks across the Northeast and Upper Midwest who heat their homes with oil are facing significantly—painfully—higher prices this winter.

For example, according to NYSERDA prices for fuel oil in the state average $3.83 per gallon, a 33% increase over last year.  In Maine, we see comparable prices.   And the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts the national average to rise further in October.

An 80 cent per gallon increase translates to an additional $800 dollars in heating costs for a home that burns 1,000 gallons per year.  That’s a real dent in the family finances.

EIA Factors that Affect Oil PricesThis highlights the risk in play home heating oil roulette.  There’s huge volatility and uncertainty from unrest in the Middle East, natural disasters like hurricanes, market forces in India and China, or many more factors.  

Homeowners are not helpless, though.  You can make choices.  You can’t control world energy prices.  But you can make your home more efficient so that the price hikes don’t hobble you.

You know how.  Start with a good assessment.  Seal the leaks in your home and ducts.  Improve your insulation.  And look at more efficient equipment, windows, lighting, etc.  We can help you figure out what makes the most sense for you and your home and tailor your project to take advantage of state and utility rebate and incentive programs.  But you’ve got to pick up the phone and start the ball rolling.  Or pick up your checkbook and send another payment to your fuel company or utility for the money you’re wasting.

Cooling with Mini-Split A/C

July 25, 2011

With the monster heat wave we’ve been having, a question that has come up several times this week—how can I add central air if I have a hot water heating system (and thus don’t have ducts to move the air)?

Mitsubishi Minisplit A/C

Minisplit air-conditioning is recognizable by it's slimmer--and quieter--outdoor condensing unit.

The good news is that there is a great answer—ductless minisplits. And mini-splits have some big advantages going for them.

    • Mini-splits are some of the most efficient systems available, and you know we’re a fan of efficiency.
    • Mini-splits come in smaller sizes, better matching cooling “loads” in the house.  And as you’ve heard me say, when it comes to A/C, bigger is NOT better.
    • Not only do they come in smaller sized, but they can also modulate the amount of heating or cooling by varying the refrigerant flow to dial is the amount of cooler you need now, not just what you need on the worst day (see bigger is not better, above).
    • With no ducts, there is no duct leakage.
    • They are really quiet!
Mitisubishi Mr. Slim Indoor A/C Unit

The indoor units, while different than a simple grill, can usually be unobtrusively tucked away, like in this hallway, for instance.

    Mini-split systems have a different design aesthetic, and some people don’t look the way the look.  However, it’s often possible to tuck them in an unobtrusive location where they’re barely noticed.  And there are options like a “ceiling cassette” with is mounted above the ceiling with just a grill visible.  Ducted mini-splits are another option.  The allow you to hide the unit, in a soffit for example, and use short ducts for the return and supply air.  With the ducted systems, you can allow feed multiple rooms from a hallway, for example.

A mini-split system is often more expensive than bolting on A/C to an existing warm air furnace and duct system.  But it is usually less expensive than adding A/C and ductwork if you have a hot water system already.  And because of the smaller sizes available, mini-splits are often a better choice for a more efficient home—one where we’ve air-sealed, insulated, swapped out lighting and appliances for more efficient models, and upgraded windows.

So, if you’ve got hot water heating, whether it’s baseboard, radiators, and in-floor radiant, don’t sweat it.  Ask us if a mini-split might be a great cooling solution for you.

Cheers,
Mike

Spring Cleaning

April 8, 2011

 For most of us the signs of spring have arrived. The days are longer, and we throw open windows until the late day coolness sets in reminding us it’s not quite over. Being closed up for so long, our homes collect a bit of dust, and April showers add to the mess spurring some of us into a cleaning frenzy. The heat gets turned down and forgotten until next year.

Often in haste we scramble to schedule a service call before we fire up the heating system again in the fall—or after it breaks down. Maybe we count our blessings this spring that this was one more year for the old clunker in the basement. It must be ok since it survived one more season, right? Or for some this is just a rest before we switch to cooling our homes, the few months where we can catch up on the bills and leave the system off for a bit.

Why not take spring cleaning a bit deeper this year. Even if your furnace is off for months until the weather cools down again it won’t hurt to have it looked at now. For sure it’s a good time of year to have a heating system cleaned and serviced, and if there is something that needs to be fixed what better time to do it than when the system is shut down for the summer. Not every heating and cooling technician is the same though. Some have a deeper understanding of not only the heating system, but how it really is a part of a larger system we call the home.

Sometimes even when the boiler or furnace chugs along happy as can be, we might have a room that doesn’t ever feel quite right, one that seems to be much colder than the thermostat says, or is drafty from somewhere you can never put your finger on. Maybe it’s the one that gets real hot come summertime. A good technician might still clean and service a system that runs fine, but more heat or cooling to those troublesome spots isn’t always the answer. A bad one sees how close a screw looks to a nail everywhere because all they have is a hammer. How do you find a technician that understands? You don’t need one that has all the answers, but one that knows who to ask.

A heating technician should be good at heating systems. And having a deeper understanding of how your house operates—and a BPI certification—is preferred. It’s a home run when they spot trouble and can lead you to the right person to help fix it. At GreenHomes America our technicians keep an eye out for trouble. If all you need is a tune up that’s what you get. If you weren’t comfortable this winter or the season has taken its toll on your home, they might suggest a more in-depth “service and tune-up” on the house itself with one of our energy Advisors. Spring cleaning is not just a feather duster and a mop anymore. Do right by yourself and your immediate environment; consider a spring tune up from someone who isn’t afraid to go and get a screwdriver.

photo credit http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:LC-de

Home Heating Options

January 7, 2011

It is usually around this time of year that people start to realize that they need to do something about their home heating system. You have probably already received your first major heating bill of the year, and are no doubt conscious of the fact that things are only going to get worse in the months to come. So what are your options?

Many people are surprised to find that a well-qualified and equipped HVAC contractor can successfully complete work on your house in the dead of winter. If your wallet is already feeling the strain of the heating season the first thing to do is to have a home energy audit.   And contractors who use IR technology to complete energy efficiency audits are actually happy to do this in winter because the high contrast in in-door to out-door temperature (generally) leads to high quality IR images.

In many cases increasing insulation in your attic and walls, and sealing cracks and gaps that allow hot air to escape and cold air to enter, will have the most bang for your buck, and can lower your bills more than replacing the heating system in your house.  There are some cases, however, when forking out the dough for a new heating system is the best bet.

Choosing a heating system is not nearly as easy as it sounds—especially since many homes have systems that weren’t properly spec-ed, sized, or installed. The local climate, the architecture and existing infrastructure of your house, the cost of the system, and the cost and availability of different fuels will all come into play in your decision. The many choices available and the long-term nature of your decision is why it is important to have a professional guiding you through the process.

Even if you are a competent handy-person and have done your research in order to choose the best system for your house, it is advisable to have a professional install the unit, or at the very least do a comprehensive check of your work to ensure the safety of your home. Carbon Monoxide in the home is extremely dangerous and not something worth risking.

If you need a new heating system for your home you might be a bit baffled by all options available to you. In the next few week I’ll explain some of the more common heating systems available to you.

Summary of 2011 Home Energy Improvement Tax Credit Now Available

January 5, 2011

As noted earlier, the federal energy efficiency tax credit has been extended through 2011, but the federal government has significantly changed the credit limits and eligibility requirements.  And we’ve been getting a lot of questions about this.  So let’s try to clarify things.  Here’s how it looks in 2011.

For measures installed between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, the credit is generally 10% of costs on qualifying energy efficiency improvement measures, up to a maximum of $500.  However, special limits have been put on certain qualifying equipment and measures.  For example:

  • 10% up to $500 for insulation, roofs, and doors
  • High efficiency furnaces and boilers – $150
  • Air-Conditioners and  heat pumps – $300
  • Main air circulating fans – $50
  • ENERGY STAR Windows – 10% capped at $200
  • Energy efficient water heaters – $300

The $500 cap will apply to anyone who received the credit from Jan. 1, 2005 to present. Thus, if you’ve claimAsk your GreenHomes Advisor for information of the 2011 Tax Creditsed a cumulative credit of $500 or more since Jan. 1, 2005, you won’t be eligible for the 2011 extension.  If you’ve claimed less than $500 cumulatively, you are eligible for the difference with qualifying measures.  Check out our more complete summary of the 2011 credits and FAQ for further details.

Certain renewable energy tax credits for solar PV, solar hot water, and geothermal, for example, remain in place at 30% of cost, with no cap.

[Note: 2009-2010 tax filers, the 2010 tax credit information is still available—don’t forget to claim any credits you’re eligible for when you file your 2010 tax return.]

Thanks,
Mike


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