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When thinking about home energy and savings, we often talk about making homes as “tight” as possible to keep warm or cool air from escaping or getting into the home through leaks, cracks, or other energy waste culprits. While paying attention to tightening up the home is extremely important in the world of home performance, it’s also important to keep in mind the freshness of the air inside your home. Sometimes, air can become trapped in the home and feel stuffy or stale, leading to a lack of comfort, and in some cases, health issues.

Especially in newer builds, homes today are constructed to be extremely tight in order to be energy efficient. Because of this, ventilation is more important than ever. In order to maintain a healthy home and a high indoor air quality, fresh air must be able to get in and “stale” air must be able to get out. This air exchange, when done properly, should provide this added comfort without compromising the performance of the home.

Poor ventilation can lead to a number of different problems in the home, from small issues up to significant issues that can cause a great deal of damage to the home. Common initial problems include odor problems. When air is not properly circulating, stale air can cause bad smells inside your home. Unfortunately, if there are bad smells inside your home, there is very likely a larger root problem causing this issue.

Once such problem is mold growth. With poor ventilation, mold can have a chance to grow inside your home. If exposed to mold, or even stale air, for an extended period of time, the potential for health issues can be high. Headaches and fatigue are common problems in homes with poor circulation. If not resolved, long periods of exposure to this air or mold can lead to much more sever health issues. Aside from health issues, poor air quality resulting in mold can also cause significant structural damage to a home.

By taking care of the root of the poor air problem through proper ventilation, all of these issues can be avoided. Sometimes, and obviously in the case of warmer weather outside, using your windows to your advantage is a great and easy way to change the stale air inside with the fresh outdoor air. Keeping windows open when the weather allows is a huge positive for natural ventilation. For colder times of the year or for more serious cases, this air exchange process can be expedited with the use of certain equipment. Bel Red offers a number of different options that help the exchange occur. Some of these options include:

  • Timed fresh air intakes
  • Exhaust fans
  • Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) / Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs)

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of poor ventilation in your home, including bad smells, stale air or mold, it is imperative that you reach out to a qualified contractor such as Bel Red. When we perform a home energy audit, we always take a look at proper ventilation. We can also give you recommendations on upgrades or new equipment that can help allow your home to breathe easy.

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Just because it’s January and the middle of winter doesn’t mean it’s too late to be thinking about ways to save energy and money during the colder months of the year. If you prefer, think of if as getting a great head start on getting the same benefit during the warmer summer months!

There are many different things to keep in mind when it comes to maximizing the efficiency of your home. One of the most important things on this list is the weatherization of the home. Weatherizing a home can cut energy usage and, therefore, energy bills significantly for homeowners. In this blog post series, we’ve outlined a few weatherization practices that can have a huge impact on your energy bottom line.

  • Ensure you have proper insulation throughout your home. Insulation can play a huge part in keeping your home energy efficient. Whether in the walls, ceilings/floors, around ductwork or water heaters, in the basement foundation or the attic, insulation reduces unwanted heat loss or gain inside your home. It’s one of the top factors that keeps your home comfortable, both now during the colder winter months and when your heat has warmed up significantly and has to remain cool during the summer.
  • Insulate and seal can lights (recessed lighting). Speaking of insulation, another big area to pay special attention to other than what we mentioned in the previous tip is around recessed lighting in your home. Recessed lighting, also referred to as can lights, often are big culprits when it comes to conditioned air leaking into unconditioned areas such as the attic. As air escapes, energy is wasted and your heating and cooling system is forced to work much harder than normal in order to keep your home comfortable. Properly sealing these can lights will help stop these leaks. Always remember to use caution when doing work around electric units such as lighting fixtures.
  • Replace old windows and doors. While it may be expensive, replacing old windows and doors with new, more efficient windows is one of the most effective ways to increase the comfort and performance of your home. Old, drafty windows cause a great deal of energy loss regardless of the season. The difference in window performance from old to new can be extremely great. If you aren’t ready to make a big investment and replace your windows, there are some other options. At Bel Red, we offer the very effective alternative to full window replacement—Indow Windows. These window inserts provide many of the benefits of brand new windows at a fraction of the cost of full replacement.

In both the short and long term, weatherization can be one of the most cost-effective methods available to improve the comfort, health and energy efficiency of your home, and we offer a range of smarter solutions to help. As we’ve mentioned in the past, we’d be happy to perform a home energy assessment to get you started on the road to energy savings. Stay tuned for part two of our weatherization tips series coming your way shortly.

While the best approach for homeowners to learn the best first steps to take to weatherize their homes is through a comprehensive home energy audit, we’ve provided you with some thought starters above. We hope you’ve enjoyed these weatherization tips. Thanks for reading!

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Just because it’s January and the middle of winter doesn’t mean it’s too late to be thinking about ways to save energy and money during the colder months of the year. If you prefer, think of if as getting a great head start on getting the same benefit during the warmer summer months!

There are many different things to keep in mind when it comes to maximizing the efficiency of your home. One of the most important things on this list is the weatherization of the home. Weatherizing a home can cut energy usage and, therefore, energy bills significantly for homeowners. In this blog post series, we’ve outlined a few weatherization practices that can have a huge impact on your energy bottom line.

  • Seal all doors and windows in your home. A great deal of energy can escape through cracks or gaps surrounding your doors and windows. During colder months, warm air from your HVAC system or other heat source can escape and cold air can get in through these cracks, causing your heating system to work much harder than it should to keep your house comfortable. The same can occur if you run a cooling system in the summer. Simple sealing with caulk or weatherstripping around doors and windows can fight this energy loss greatly.
  • Seal all ducts properly. If you have a heating system with ducts, as many do, it’s imperative that these ducts are properly sealed. It is estimated that inefficient and improperly sealed ductwork can account for up to 20% of the energy loss in the home. Sealed air ducts will fight against this energy loss and keep your home comfortable. If you are sealing ducts yourself, be sure to use fiber-reinforced mastic, not just standard duct tape, as it is not suitable for this job. At Bel Red, we use cutting edge duct sealing technology called Aeroseal, which seals ducts from the inside, creating an unmatched seal.
  • Install or replace dampers on exhaust ducts. When an oven exhaust fan or clothes dryer is not in use, a common culprit of outside air entering the home is through the ducts leading from these appliances to the exterior of the home. By ensuring the damper on the end of these ducts are new or performing properly, you can be sure this outside air is not entering the home when they are not in use.
  • Protect pipes from corrosion and freezing. Properly taking care of your home’s plumbing can play a big role in the “whole-house” weatherization of your home. While not too common in the Northwest, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared against freezing pipes by using pipe insulation where necessary, especially on pipes in areas in external walls on your house. Running water for a short period of time through rarely used pipes can also help prevent corrosion in pipes and keep your plumbing working efficiently and effectively.

In both the short and long term, weatherization can be one of the most cost-effective methods available to improve the comfort, health and energy efficiency of your home, and we offer a range of smarter solutions to help. As we’ve mentioned in the past, we’d be happy to perform a home energy assessment to get you started on the road to energy savings. Stay tuned for part two of our weatherization tips series coming your way shortly.

While the best approach for homeowners to learn the best first steps to take to weatherize their homes is through a comprehensive home energy audit, we’ve provided you with some thought starters above. We’ll also follow up with another post with a few more weatherization tips shortly. Thanks for reading!

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Posted by on in Heating

As we discussed in our most recent blog post, hydronic, or radiant, heating is an environmentally friendly, energy efficient option for heating the home. It can bring you and your loved ones great comfort and energy cost savings over time as well. Many of you reading this may already be experiencing the benefits of hydronics in your heating system at home.

Like any other home heating system, hydronic systems require regular maintenance to ensure they are working properly and at low risk of failing over time. At Bel Red, we specialize in all types of home heating maintenance, including maintenance on hydronic heating systems.

A Bel Red maintenance visit for hydronic systems includes a number of different checkpoints to assure ongoing performance, safety, energy savings and an extended life of the system. We provide not only a maintenance check, but also a tune-up and safety inspection to key areas of the system.

The Bel Red Difference maintenance visit includes a comprehensive check of the following areas of your hydronic heat system:

  • Combustion – We heck and clean the burner, look for blockage of combustion air openings, check for free flow of air, and examine safety controls.
  • Circulator and zone valve operation – We check for leaks in flanges and stems and proper valve opening/closing for zoned heat delivery.
  • Expansion tank – We check for proper air charge and recharge if needed. We also check the bladder and tank, air vents and air eliminators.
  • Hydronic glycol – We examine fluid pH and if it has become degraded, recharge it.
  • Pressure Relief Valve – We purge the system of stagnant water, clear any debris, check and replace the pressure relief valve if necessary.
  • Shut-off/drain faucets – We fix or replace if the faucet dripping.
  • Wiring – We examine zone control wiring and assure proper performance.
  • Valves – We check the water inlet, shut-off to expansion tank, ISO valves, return line bypass valves, and all zone and loop shut-off valves.
  • Baseboard radiation – We make sure radiators are open, clean, and unobstructed by furniture or debris.

If you have a hyrdonic heat system in your home and it has been a while since a maintenance and safety check and tune-up has been performed, don’t hesitate to give us a call today at Bel Red. These systems should be checked on an annual basis in order to keep things running smoothly, safely and efficiently into the future!

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Posted by on in Heating

As you know if you follow along with the Bel Red Energy blog, you know we discuss many different types of heating options for the home. One form of heating we haven’t touched on much on the blog is an efficient and green option for heating the home called hydronic heating.

Hydronic heating is an energy efficient home heating system that uses tubing to run a hot liquid beneath the floor, along baseboard heaters, or through radiators to heat your home. This type of system has become increasingly popular among families that want added comfort and control in the rooms where they need heat, savings through lower heating bills, and a decrease in their environmental impact by making smart green building choices when installing a new heating system.

You may have heard the term or even experience radiant heating. Radiant heating is a form of hydronic heating. Radiant heating is in-floor hydronic heating – circulating hot water through piping in or under a floor. The energy disperses evenly to comfortably warm your home. The comfort of the home gets an added bonus if radiant heating floors are wood or tile, since you can feel the warmth on these surfaces when you walk on them with bare feet.

Hydronic heating can have many different benefits in terms of energy efficiency, cost and low environmental impact.

Here are a few of the benefits:

  • Very energy efficient, plus these systems use no fossil fuels so pollution is reduced
  • More energy efficient than most forced-air systems to reduce energy costs
  • Uses small tubing which loses less heat than heat sent through air ducts
  • Utilizes a circulating pump with lower power demands than a forced air blower
  • Can be zoned room to room to improve comfort
  • Creates virtually no detectable noise in living areas
  • Versatile enough to be used in new construction and existing homes
  • Compatible with nearly any type of floors or floor covering (tile, concrete, hardwood, carpet, linoleum, marble, etc.)
  • Is not visible – no air ducts to hide, takes up no wall space
  • Great for allergies – no air circulation so dust particles and allergens are not stirred up, and dust mites are greatly reduced
  • No duct cleaning needed

If you’re interested in exploring the installation potential of hydronic heating in your home or are in need of a reliable, efficient heating system for a new build, give us a call today and we’ll put you in touch with one of our qualified staff members to discuss your options. Stay tuned to the blog as well, as we’ll be following up this post with a post about maintenance of a hydronic heating system.

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