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Posted by on in Safety

If you’re a regular reader of the Bel Red blogs, you’ve probably seen a lot of mentions of many different aspects of home energy, safety and efficiency. One such topic discussed in many different posts is indoor air quality. While some may have a fantastic understanding of the factors and causes behind good or poor indoor air quality, we wanted to be sure to give a detailed overview of this important topic. Ensuring you have good indoor air quality could not only make your home a more comfortable place to live, it could also keep you and your loved ones healthier and safer. Here are some questions and answers that should give you a great overview on the importance of indoor air quality:

 

What is indoor air quality (IAQ)?

Indoor air quality is the air quality within your home as it relates to the home’s inhabitants’ health and comfort.

 

What causes poor indoor air quality?

Poor indoor air quality is typically caused by a few different factors. First, indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of poor air quality. In addition to these sources, inadequate air ventilation can cause these gases and particles to build up and become even more harmful. Typically, a certain amount of outdoor air needs to be brought into the home to dilute these harmful particles and gases within the home to maintain good indoor air quality. If not enough fresh air is able to circulate, the overall air quality will suffer greatly. High temperature and humidity can also play a huge part in increasing the concentration of these harmful pollutants.

 

What are some pollution sources that can cause poor indoor air quality?

These sources have a wide variety, making it important to have a well-rounded knowledge of potential causes of poor indoor air quality. Very commonly, heating sources including gas, oil, kerosene, coal or wood can all be sources of harmful pollutants if not properly ventilated. These heating sources can emit harmful gases such as carbon monoxide if not properly cared for. Additional sources include dangerous and harmful things such as mold or asbestos within the house. Malfunctioning appliances, specifically stoves or space heaters can also be harmful to your home’s indoor air quality.

Posted by on in General

One of our Core Values at Bel Red Energy Solutions is Delight – Creating memorable experiences. We work hard to empower our staff to create these experiences, and while we know there is always room to improve, we generally think we do a good job with this. A recent experience with Hertz Rent-a-Car reminded me, however, that our perspective is not what matters; it is the customer’s perspective. Despite the following bad experience, some good did come from it—the realization that we can further improve our recognition of touch-points with our customers, and a renewed focus on our Core Value of Delight.

 

I had to fly to Philadelphia from Seattle for the funeral of a loved one. I was a pall bearer at the funeral, and getting to-and-from the funeral, memorial service, and family members’ homes was critical for this brief, but important trip. I rented a car from Hertz, where I am a Gold member, having used Hertz for both business and vacation car rentals for over 12 years and have been happy with their service.

 

My rental car was waiting for me at the lot when I arrived, and I drove to my lodging location without incident. When I went to drive to the funeral service the next morning, the car would not start. There was battery power, but the starter would not engage. I had an hour to get to the funeral (a 30-45 minute drive). I called the company’s roadside assistance and was told it would be an hour before a truck would arrive. I informed them that I could not wait and made arrangements for a ride from a family member.

 

After the funeral, I returned to the car, with a few hours to decompress before I had to go to another service. I called the roadside assistance number again, re-explained the problem, and asked that they send a tow-truck. I was informed it would be up to an hour, and it was all of that until the truck arrived. Unfortunately, a tow-truck was not dispatched. Instead they sent a battery service vehicle. The operator found the battery was fully charged, and the vehicle would not start even with a jump-start. They had not listened to and trusted a “valued” customer.

 

Upon calling again, I was told it would take another hour to get a tow-truck to me, at which point they would tow me back to the airport, exchange the car, and I would then have to drive back. I informed them that this would take several hours, and I just didn’t have the time. Rather then sending someone out to me with a new car (which would have really wowed me – and saved the day) they suggested I call back later when I had the time. Another opportunity lost. I then arranged for a family member to pick me up again for the next service.

 

After a dinner with family, and the service, I returned to my lodgings around 8 pm, and called to have the tow truck sent. I arrived at the airport lot’s car distribution center at 10 pm, where no one was expecting me, and was not sure how they would get me to the airport lot for a new car. Obviously, interdepartmental communication is another issue with which they struggle. The staff there was actually very sympathetic and helpful, and quickly arranged for a ride to the airport lot via a transport van. I was hopeful that my ordeal would soon be over.

 

At the airport lot, I encountered a rental agent who, while trying to be helpful, showed no sympathy or any regard for what had transpired. He informed me that he tried to get me an upgraded car, but none were available, and he actually put me into a car one-level lower than the one I had rented (that smelled of smoke to boot). I told the counter agent that I did not want to pay for the rental, as I did not have use of it. The counter agent told me that he wasn’t authorized to issue any credits, but gave me the number for customer service and assured me that they would be able to help me.

 

I called them the next morning, and spent 15 minutes going through automated phone trees and sitting on hold. When I finally got to talk to a live person, I relayed my story to them. The agent apologized profusely, and seemed genuinely sympathetic, but then told me that she could not do anything to help me until after the vehicle was returned and the rental contract closed out. She told me that the only person who was actually able to do anything to resolve the situation was the location manager, and to talk to them when I returned the car. They clearly do not place emphasis on trust or empowerment of their employees to satisfy customers. Yet another opportunity lost.

Mr. Hoffman recently experienced common problem homeowners with older homes face – original or out-of-date heating systems shutting down or not working properly. Recognizing the need to an upgrade to his system, he called in our Bel Red professionals to take a look.

 

During a full evaluation and assessment of Mr. Hoffman’s home, the Bel Red team found areas for major improvement that could have big impacts on his home’s efficiency and comfort. In addition to the installation of newer equipment in his home and water heating systems, Mr. Hoffman selected to change from electric heating to gas heating. This required running almost 100 feet of new gas pipe to five different locations in his home.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_gas-installation.png

 

To replace the home’s original gas furnace, our team installed a 95% efficient Rheem RGFG furnace with all new venting and condensation drains. This top of the line, two-stage model from Rheem will certainly lead to a huge reduction of energy needs to make Mr. Hoffman’s home comfortable. This Rheem furnace provides exceptional comfort with a modulating gas valve to provide only as much heat as is needed, coupled with a variable speed fan to gently mix and distribute the air throughout the home. To complete the furnace portion of the job, the Bel Red team added three new supply duct runs to allow for proper airflow to the new furnace. A media filter was also installed to increase filtration of the air that was being heated.

 

 

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(original furnace and water heater)

 

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(new furnace and water heater)

 

In addition to the installation of the new furnace system, proper sealing and insulation was also installed in Mr. Hoffman’s attic, which will have a huge impact on his monthly energy bill bottom line all year round. Full weatherization work was performed in his attic, with all penetrations between the house and attic being sealed. This should also help maximize the comfort of his home.

 

Finally, the Bel Red installation professionals helped Mr. Hoffman check the final item off his heating checklist by installing a new Bradford White power-vent hybrid water heater. This hybrid water heater model will provide exceptional hot water delivery to Mr. Hoffman’s home while saving a great deal of energy. All upgrades we recently made to Mr. Hoffman’s home heating systems will have a great impact on his overall energy use and needs. If you’d like to explore how you can save energy and money on your monthly energy bills through home energy improvements, don’t hesitate to reach out today.

Posted by on in General

Before diving into this post, you may have first read the title and thought “What is home performance?” Essentially, home performance is taking a look at your house as a whole and making it work to the best of its ability and provide the most quality and efficiency to the owners and residents. All round, a home that maximizes performance means a home that is a great place to live. Just like the human body acts best when all of the different systems within it are working properly, a home’s systems combine to make it perform. If one system fails, the whole house suffers.

 

There are four essential aspects to examine when looking at home performance. Below, we’ll give an overview of each and let you know how they can all lead to a better home for you.

 

1.     Comfort - It’s no secret—living in a comfortable home makes our lives much better. Constantly breathing in clean air and being surrounded by the perfect temperature in our homes leads to maximum comfort and happiness. High comfort comes from heating or cooling a home to the right temperature, then maintaining that temperature for an extended period of time. This means home features such as good insulation and air sealing are just as important as having functional furnaces or air conditioning systems. The inability to reach and maintain a suitable temperature in the home will lead to discomfort. A home performance audit and assessment can determine how your home’s overall comfort can be improved.

 

2.     Health and Safety – It’s a common misconception that being outside is more harmful when it comes to dust, pollen and allergens than being inside.In fact, the opposite can hold true if the air in our home isn’t clean. These particles can easily get trapped and keep cycling around inside our homes without proper ventilation and filtration, which can lead to harm to our health and safety. If you or another resident of the home has allergies and they appear to be worse inside the house than outside (and if the allergies aren’t pet related), you probably have poor indoor air quality. Fortunately, there are many solutions to improving the air quality inside your home. Energy audits and home performance assessments can also check for safety issues with your home, such as risks for combustion or harmful gas in your home.

Posted by on in Products

According to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies, levels for air pollutants may be up to five times higher indoors than outdoors. Poor indoor air quality can be extremely bothersome, make us uncomfortable when inside the home, and can even lead to health issues. Dust, pollen and other airborne particles can be annoyances and health hazards if we’re constantly breathing them in during the days and nights spent inside.

 

Fortunately, there are also a number of remedies that can lead to improved air quality within the home. While we always recommend fixing underlying issues in the home causing these problems, you should also consider whole-house air filtration, which can improve and maintain high indoor air quality within your home.

 

In terms of whole-house filtration products, there are two main options that can help get the job done. The first, and perhaps most effective, is a powered air cleaner. These filtration systems deliver superior performance and provide excellent value with permanent, cleanable media, eliminating the need to purchase filters. At Bel Red, one of the great products we offer is the Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner. The CleanEffects is the world’s most effective whole-house air filtration system. This filtration system clears the air of 99.98% of allergens and has an industry-leading clean air delivery rate, which means your house will have a constant supply of clean air if this product is installed. Perhaps the best features for homeowners are the low operating cost of this product and the fact that there is no need to buy and replace filters for the unit. The CleanEffects product has undergone extensive tests to back its claims. It has been performance-tested by LMS Technologies and Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. (EH&E), with the results verified by professors from the Harvard School of Public Health. Another option in terms of powered air cleaners is the electronic air cleaner. At Bel Red, we offer a wide range of electronic filtration models to provide superior filtration that will fit most existing systems.