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Posted by on in General

There are a number of great resources out there to research and learn about ways to conserve energy or make your home more energy efficient through better habits, products and technologies. The best defense against energy waste in your home is being an informed homeowner.


In this blog series, we’ll try to help with that energy efficiency education process by listing some facts you may or may not know about energy efficiency. Enjoy!


Overall duct efficiency in the US can be drastically improved. According to residential energy efficiency research experts, overall efficiency of duct heating and cooling systems sits somewhere between 50 to 70 percent, on average, in America. That’s a lot of room for improvement.


A majority of Americans use natural gas for heating. About 56% of Americans currently use natural gas for heating purposes. Natural gas has become a go-to option for both utility companies and homeowners for heating residences.


Replacing old appliances is a great way to boost efficiency. One of the best ways to increase the overall efficiency of your home is to replace old appliances. Efficiency of appliances with newer technologies, especially in recent years, greatly reduces the amount of energy required to operate everyday appliances in your home. If you can afford to do so, replacing appliances with newer models can instantly help save energy in your home.


Energy efficiency is increasing at a lower rate than the overall US population. Thanks to advances in the energy efficiency of appliances and general technologies in homes, the overall rate of increase of population is outpacing the rate of increase in energy consumption.


When it comes to cooling buildings, light colored roofs are best. Believe it or not, the color of your roof can mean a great deal in energy expenditures. On average, buildings and homes with light-colored roofs use about 40% less energy for cooling the building than do those with darker roofs.


Incandescent light bulbs are extremely inefficient. When it comes to efficiency, our light bulbs matter. Incandescent bulbs tend to convert only about 10% of their energy into light. The rest is converted to wasted heat coming form the bulb. If you’re replacing your bulbs, consider using Energy Star rated CFLs or, better yet, LED light bubs.


We’ll be following up this post with some more general facts on energy efficiency in the home. Please stay tuned and if you have direct questions about these facts or any others, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today!

Posted by on in Heating

In our most recent post, we discussed some benefits of gas fireplace inserts. These advantages can bring heat, comfort and efficiency to your home during the cold winter months. Good news—there are even more benefits to installing these units in your home for a heat source! Read a few more benefits below:


Gas fireplace inserts are safe. Direct vent gas fireplaces are extremely safe when installed by professionals. Wood-burning fireplaces have been linked to carbon monoxide problems due to open burning inside the home. Vented gas inserts pull fresh air directly form outside, then flow gases and smoke directly back outside.


Placement and design of gas fireplaces are flexible. While many models, specifically those that retrofit to an existing fireplace, are designed to utilize the current chimney, other direct-vent models can be placed in other areas. This gives design flexibility when thinking about the installation of a gas fireplace. Some models vent directly out to a sidewall in the home, eliminating the need for a chimney. Gas fireplaces and fireplace inserts also come in a variety of designs and sizes, making each unique to the home and homeowner’s preference.


Maintenance is a breeze. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, you know maintaining it properly can be a fairly large burden. Regular cleaning of the chimney is crucial to avoid potential chimney fires and to maximize performance. Ashes and soot need to be removed from inside the fireplace on a very regular basis to maintain safety and to make sure logs can breathe properly to stay lit. With a gas fireplace insert, maintenance is much easier and requires much less work and attention. Regular inspection is still important, but beyond that maintenance is simple.


No need for huge gas tanks. Because gas fireplaces and inserts typically run on natural gas, there’s no need to invest in a large gas tank to sit outside your home. In most cases, the natural gas needed to use the fireplace can be received directly from your home’s regular gas line provided by your energy company. Your energy company meters usage as well. More good news? Burning natural gas in a fireplace insert is very efficient, so you’ll likely see savings on your energy bill compared to other heating sources.


As a reminder, Bel Red offers installation of many different types and models of gas fireplace inserts. If you’re looking to benefits from one of the advantages listed above (or in the next post), contact us today!

Posted by on in Heating

Homeowners have many options for heating their homes. Many homes have wood-burning fireplaces that, for many years, homeowners have relied upon for either their main or complementary heating sources. Wood-burning fireplaces can come with their own set of maintenance, operation and energy challenges.


Gas fireplace inserts have become increasingly popular as a major heating source for homeowners all over. These safe, efficient units have a number of benefits. In this blog series, we’ll be outlining their benefits to help you decide if a gas fireplace insert is right for you and your home. We kick off the benefits below:


  • Gas fireplace inserts are sealed for efficiency. One major issue with wood-burning fireplaces is the loss of efficiency when warm air from the home escapes through the flue. This can occur either through faulty sealing or, most commonly, when someone forgets to close the flue when the fireplace is not in use. This can also allow cold air drafts to enter the home. Both problems obviously contribute to lower efficiency and poor comfort levels for your home during cold months. When installed correctly, gas fireplace inserts all but eliminate air leaks and heat loss—even when installed in existing fireplaces!


  • Fireplace inserts are extremely convenient. Let’s face it—hauling wood for traditional fireplaces is a pain. Even if someone else is doing the chopping, you still have to get that wood to the fireplace log by log. Starting fires can be a challenge depending on the type and quality of wood you’re burning, as well. This can be frustrating when all you want is a quick, hot fire to warm your home. Gas fireplace inserts light with the flip of a switch—literally! You can have fast heat and fast comfort with no work at all.


  • Temperature management is easy. With gas fireplace inserts, you have control over the temperature, much like other non-fireplace heating systems. With wood-burning fireplaces, the fire is either burning or not, so temperature management is often difficult. Many gas fireplace inserts come with thermostat management so you can set your desired temperature and be done.


  • Gas fireplace inserts pump out heat. Many remember the early days of gas fireplace inserts, which were typically more for decoration than for actual home heating. Those days have passed and fireplace inserts are now powerful heat sources that can efficiently heat a large portion of your home.


  • They provide heat when the power goes out. Unlike many other sources of heat, gas fireplace inserts can be used when the power is out, which is especially useful during times like these when we’re experiencing high wind storms.


Bel Red offers installation of many different types and models of gas fireplace inserts. If you’re looking to benefits from one of the advantages listed above (or in the next post), contact us today!


As mentioned in our previous post, Fall is upon us and the cold winter months are just around the corner. That means now is the perfect time to prepare your house for the change in seasons to ensure your home performs to its highest level.


Plumbing is no exception to this reminder and rule. Making sure your home’s plumbing is well maintained and in top shape can save you from large, expensive repairs in the future. Now is the perfect time of year to inspect and make small fixes to any problems or potential issues with your faucets, pipes and other plumbing areas. Here are a few more tips to round out this blog series:


  • Take care of outside plumbing as necessary. If water hoses and other outside faucets aren’t properly disconnected or closed up (often closed on the interior), there could be issues with that uncommon (but very possible) hard freeze. If this isn’t dealt with before the winter season, you run the risk of not only damaging these faucets and hoses, but cracked or burst pipes that can cause major water problems inside your home as well.
  • Test your sump pump and make sure its pit is clear. Knowing your sump pump is properly working can help you rest a bit easier when it comes to plumbing mishaps. These units help protect against flooding damage in your home and even reduce the threat of mold and mildew. Making sure yours is working properly and efficiently is key during this time of year.
  • Dispose of your spooky pumpkins properly. Lastly, and for a bit of seasonal fun, it’s important that pumpkins used to decorate your home during this season are disposed of properly. It is highly recommended that pumpkin seeds and pulp are not put down the sink drain or even the disposal. Pumpkins can cause havoc for your disposal and drain because of its tough, stringy nature. Pumpkin seeds (if not made into a tasty snack) and pulp are best for either your compost or the trash.
  • When in doubt, call an expert. Plumbing is an area of home maintenance and improvement that must be taken extremely seriously. If you don’t have experience plumbing, with either small or large jobs, it’s best to have someone come in to help. A small leak or dripping faucet may be the sign of a more serious (or potential for a serious) issue. Knowledgeable experts, like the plumbing staff at Bel Red can help you inspect, maintain and repair your home’s plumbing, regardless of the time of year.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this fall plumbing blog series. Again, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all. We’re here to help.

Fall is upon us and the cold winter months are just around the corner. As you know if you’re visiting the Bel Red site and reading this blog, there are many things that homeowners need to do during this time of year to prepare for the changing temperatures and conditions ahead.


One area that needs special attention is your home’s plumbing. Changing seasons and temperatures, as mentioned above, can be great reminders to make sure your plumbing systems are working properly and efficiently. Preparing your pipes, faucets and other plumbing areas for the colder weather can help save some big headaches and frigid repairs in the future. Here are some fall checklist tips for your home’s plumbing:


  • Check faucets for signs of leaks. Leaky faucets can cause a great deal of water (and sometimes heat) waste. Even a faucet that drips extremely slowly can cause water waste of a gallon or more per day. If it’s hot water that is slowly leaking, this can also cause an unnecessary amount of hot water usage in your home, adding an extra cost to your monthly heating bills.
  • Flush sediment from your water heater. You probably already know water heaters are big contributors to your energy costs. What you may not know, however, is that sediment buildup in your water heater can be a drain on its efficiency. Heat that should be solely heating water can instead work to heat up the sediment, wasting valuable energy. Draining this sediment, or having it done professionally, can potentially save you big.
  • Prepare for cold spells. Though it’s not normal for our area here in the Pacific Northwest to experience long periods of temperatures below freezing, it’s very possible. Ensuring you take precautionary measures to prevent freezing pipes is a good idea during this time of year. Add insulation to necessary pipes. Fix all noticeable leaks now, as these leaks can cause pipes to burst under freezing temperatures. If you know you’re going away when the days and nights get cold, ensure your heat stays on at a reasonable temperature to combat pipe freezing. Paying attention to these and other preventative measures can save you from big headaches and repair costs.
  • Test your water pressure in all faucets. Checking the pressure of your faucets and showerheads can alert you to potential plumbing problems. Low pressure may be caused by sediment buildup or problems with the water line that need to be addressed. Again, doing this now while it’s still warm can help you avoid doing it in the freezing cold when a larger problem presents itself.


We’ll be following up with a few more helpful plumbing tips in part 2 of this series shortly, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can contact Bel Red for all of your plumbing needs and advice.