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Staying warm is imperative during these colder winter months. Luckily, there are many different ways to heat your home. Furnaces are perhaps the most popular way homeowners keep their homes heated and comfortable. While there are many different sizes, shapes, models and types of furnaces, all of them have to be cleaned and maintained in order to maximize their efficiency and overall performance.

 

We’ve put together some things to keep in mind when it comes to maintaining your residential furnace in this blog series. Below, you’ll find the first few tips:

 

1.   If you notice your furnace turning on and off very regularly, the thermostat may be to blame. Faulty thermostats sending “mixed messages” to furnaces can cause big problems when it comes to the efficiency of your furnace. It can also cause major issues for your home’s comfort when it is cold. If your thermostat is not functioning properly, it could be causing your furnace to kick on and off far too regularly, leading to wasted energy and temperature fluctuation in your home. If you notice your furnace is kicking on and off in short, irregular intervals, you may have a problem with the thermostat. Fixing or replacing may be a cost effective fix for your heating woes.

 

2.     Your furnace unit should be serviced once per year. Despite being one of the most used home systems and appliances during much of the year, furnaces are often ignored when it comes to inspections and maintenance. Even changing the filter seems like it’s an ignored task on a regular basis with far too many homeowners. Perhaps it is because furnaces are usually hidden in the basement and forgotten about for many. Unfortunately, furnace service and maintenance are crucial to ensuring efficiency and longevity for your heating system. Calling a professional in to have your furnace serviced once per year may cost a small amount of money, but that amount doesn’t even come close to the cost of unfortunate repairs or replacements necessary to fix problems with furnaces that have been left unmaintained and ignored for too long.

 

3.    Think about furnace service at an unpopular time. Speaking of furnace service and maintenance… most people understandably inspect and service their furnaces in the fall or early winter leading up to colder days. While this makes sense in terms of preparation, it’s not necessary that furnace service occurs during this time. Thinking about calling in a professional during the spring months, just after winter, is fine as well. Many contractors and professionals run specials and manufacturers offer rebates and incentives during this furnace “offseason,” potentially saving you some money when you make sure your furnace is in tip-top shape.

 

Stay tuned for more furnace maintenance tips and reminders coming to the blog shortly. You can always contact Bel Red to speak in more detail about getting some help with these (and many more) furnace inspection and maintenance steps.

Posted by on in Products

Hybrid water heaters are often not first thought of when thinking or talking about water heaters for the home, but perhaps they should be. ”Hybrid” is most often related to cars in the eyes of the consumer and that same concept for isn’t far off when it comes to water heaters. While the “hybrid” methods used in these water heaters don’t use gas and electric combinations like the vehicles do, they can provide big savings and other benefits for their owners.

 

A hybrid water heater provides the best traits of a tankless water heater without most of their drawbacks. Like a large tank water heater, hybrids have a large supply of hot water ready to be used at any time, but aren’t energy hogs like their counterparts. Homeowners who have recently had hybrid models installed in their homes see a big difference in their monthly gas or electric bills as compared to their old regular tank water heaters. Remember, water heaters can account for a larger percentage of energy usage in your home than you’d think, so upgrading to efficient equipment can be hugely beneficial.

 

So, what about comparison to a tankless water heater? Perhaps most importantly to a homeowner seeking convenience, the hybrid models do not require additional wait time for hot water like tankless water heaters require. Also unlike tankless water heaters, hybrids work in power outages. Hybrid models can also be used with recirculation pumps for even faster hot water response times. These hybrid systems usually don’t need expensive gas piping, venting, gas meter or supply line upgrades to work properly, like many tankless systems do upon installation. Perhaps what’s best when it comes to installing and retrofitting a hybrid water heater system—they fit the same footprint as most traditional 40-gallon water heaters.

 

Similar to the traditional tank-type water heaters, hybrid water heaters maintain heat and water pressure in a tank (though this tank is much smaller than the traditional tanks). And, like the tankless water heaters on the market today, these systems offer high output of hot water in an energy-efficient manner. The tank on the average hybrid water heater system can be ½ the size or less of a normal hot water tank. These small tanks allow hybrids to temper incoming cold water. Therefore, they only have to increase water temperature from warm to hot as opposed to tankless which has to raise completely cold water to hot.

 

While comparisons of tankless vs. tank water heaters have seen mixed reviews from some organizations, it’s quite apparent that hybrid water heaters are undoubtedly more efficient systems. In fact, overall efficiency for these systems averages around 86% - as compared to 80% and 60% efficiency averages for tankless and tank water heaters, respectively.

 

For more general information on the efficiency and benefits of a hybrid water heater, head over to the Bel Red page dedicated to these systems. For product specifics and more detailed information, check out our fact sheet or data sheet on our hybrid water heaters. If you’re interested in exploring the installation of a hybrid water heater, you can contact us today.

Posted by on in Safety

The CO (carbon monoxide) detector is something that all homes require in order to keep them safe from this dangerous and odorless gas. While it’s common knowledge to have properly working CO detectors in the home, there are some other facts about these devices that you may not know. Not all carbon monoxide detectors are the same… or as effective.

 

As you probably know, carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can be extremely dangerous through high levels of exposure. These types of levels are typically a result of improper ventilation from home heating sources or garages. Most homes properly expel this gas, but under certain circumstances this gas can build up and result in serious illness or even death from CO poisoning. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 600 Americans die due to accidental acute carbon monoxide poisoning each year, with more than 20,000 people getting sick from this dangerous gas.

 

Many homeowners think having any standard CO detector is enough to keep their home safe. However, the standards set for bottom line detectors are extremely low. For example, many of these monitors have standards designed to only protect a healthy young adult, with the definition of “young adult” said to include only a healthy individual between the ages of 18 and 22. Seems a little shocking, doesn’t it?  Essentially, this means lower levels of carbon monoxide in your homes air will not set off visual or audible warnings, which could pose dangerous threats to the health of those not deemed “healthy young individuals,” including young children or older adults.

 

Fortunately, there are low level carbon monoxide detectors on the market today that detect even the smallest amounts of this potentially deadly gas. These higher quality detectors also take samples of the air much more frequently—some as many as once every ten seconds. These types of monitors alert a home’s inhabitants well before the levels of CO become harmful, so they can get out of the house immediately and call professional help to take care of the problem. That’s much more reliable safety.

 

Regardless of the model or quality of CO detector you’re using in your home, it’s essential to make sure it is in proper working order and replaced regularly. It’s best to have your CO detector replaced every 2 – 5 years (depending on the quality of the detector). Low-level CO detectors typically have a lifespan much longer than standard models. Bel Red offers these high quality, low-level carbon monoxide detectors because we know how great their benefits can be. Contact us today if you’re interested in having them installed in your home.

Are you in the process of the wonderful world of home purchasing? If so, you probably spend countless hours scouring real estate sites, checking out furniture and home design stores, and of course, watching home improvement shows on HGTV. When you’ve finally found the home of your dreams, it’s important to know it inside and out (literally) before you sign on the dotted line. Buying a home is likely the largest financial decision people go through in their lifetimes. That said, it’s sometimes easy to let the excitement of buying a new home get in the way of making sure every base is covered when it comes to buyer protection and knowing what they are getting when making the purchase.

 

The initial investment on a home can obviously be huge, but the hidden follow up costs on repairs, upgrades or new installations to replace old equipment can be “budget breakers” just the same. So how do you protect yourself and get all the answers you need when it comes to ensuring your potential new home is going to be a sound energy purchase? Simple – have a home energy audit done before you buy. There are many things that can be uncovered by having a comprehensive home energy audit completed.

 

Home inspections are required in most areas before a sale can go through, but sometimes these can be done very quickly and may only check for the most blatant of problems or issues. And, even if your new prospective house doesn’t have something major wrong with it, you may want to know about possible energy upgrades and improvements that can be made for financial consideration or including those in your mortgage amount and negotiations.

 

Having a full home energy audit done professionally can be a small price to pay to ensure you are maximizing the value of your large investment. If problems are uncovered, you also have new buying power to negotiate fixes into the contract or drop the purchase price to cover them. This can save you a lot of money right away. It can also point out problems that should be addressed that, when taken care of, can increase the value of your home immensely over time. Having the home energy audit can also help you make decisions and avoid some unnecessary “upgrade” purchases and improvements.

 

All in all, having the peace of mind of knowing you are making a sound financial and emotional investment in your new home is certainly reason enough to have a comprehensive home energy audit completed before purchase. Knowing you are going to be walking into a comfortable and efficient new house will go a long way towards a happy new home. If you’re in the home buying process, call us today to schedule this valuable service!

Posted by on in Efficiency

In the final post of this energy savings facts series, we’ve outlined a few more items that you may or may not already know about saving energy in your home. Even if you did already know these facts, they can serve as great reminders.

 

Enjoy these facts below and have fun saving energy!

 

Sealing your house can save you up to 10% a year in energy costs. Properly sealing your home can be one of the biggest ways to save energy and money each year. Most homes, especially if older, are not sealed. Doing manual checks or, better yet, having a home energy audit done in your home can pinpoint areas that aren’t sealed so you can get them taken care of immediately. Don’t let wasted energy and money leak out your doors and windows.

 

Leaky faucets can add up. A faucet that leaks one drop per second can result in almost 165 gallons of wasted water per month! That amount is equivalent to adding on the water the average person consumes every two weeks. That’s a lot of wasted H2O! Make sure your faucets are sealed to save that water and the heat wasted in the process.

 

Phantom power is a real issue. It’s been reported that up to 70% of the power used by consumer electronics is used when that unit is turned off. By unplugging your electronics and appliances that don’t require to be plugged in at all times, you can cut your electricity and overall energy bill by a lot.

 

Microwaves are extremely efficient (in general). A typical Energy Star microwave uses about 1/3 the energy of a conventional oven to produce the same amount of heat. If you have the option of heating food up with one or the other, a microwave is a better option than the oven. Not only more efficient, but more convenient!

 

The United States is home to just 5% of the world’s population, but it consumes more than 20% of the world’s energy. We can all do our parts to live a more energy efficient life—regardless of where we live. Again, being informed is the best place to start. At Bel Red, we’re always happy to discuss how these facts (plus many, many more) can affect you and your loved ones. Everyone’s needs are different, but we take pride in bringing the highest level of energy efficiency to all of our customers. Thanks for reading!