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“Going green” has become much more than a trendy buzzword when it comes to energy consumption and awareness in this region and country. The movement has certainly made it into the homes and minds of many individuals looking to not only do their part to help our planet, but also wanting to reduce their energy costs in a practical, sustainable way.

In this blog post series, we’re going to take a look at some simple ways that you can green up your home. See the first tips below:

  • Clean your appliances regularly. Cleaning appliances and home heating and cooling systems can drastically increase their efficiency over the long-term. Dirty or clogged appliances can cause energy usage to skyrocket. Unless these units and systems are maintained and kept clean, they will have to work extra hard to perform, meaning you’re going to be using way more energy to keep your home and way of living in order.
  • Upgrade your light bulbs. This is a small and rather inexpensive change that can have a major impact. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with eco-friendly and high performing CFL bulbs can make a huge (and positive) dent in your monthly energy use and bill. This option is not only good for your wallet, it’s good for the environment.
  • Rely on natural light. While we discussed the impact the installation of CFL light bulbs can have on your overall energy consumption, nothing can beat turning off your lights completely and using natural light whenever possible. Make sure windows aren’t blocked so as much outside light can enter your home. If you’re in a position to install new windows (or are building a new home), place the windows strategically so you’ll maximize the amount of sunlight getting into the home.
  • Adjust your heating and cooling. One of the biggest culprits of high and sometimes unnecessary energy use comes with not properly adjusting the temperature settings in your home. Many people don’t take advantage to helpful tools and practices like scheduling your thermostat to allow for lower energy usage when nobody is home. Even if you are home, can you adjust the temperature a degree or two and still be comfortable? Even a slight change like that can add up to big energy savings over time.

There are many other tips to greening your home and way of life within the household. We’ll be following up shortly with more tips. Stay tuned!

As always, the best way to REALLY have a large impact on cutting your energy consumption is to give us a call at Bel Red for a comprehensive home performance assessment so we can help you determine the best ways you can save.

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Posted by on in Efficiency

We talk a lot on this blog about the power of knowledge when it comes to personal energy consumption in the home. This knowledge is not only important for ways to potentially save energy, but also knowing how much energy you’re using in general. There are some tools that can be used to help you get a basic idea of this amount, as well as help you compare your energy usage month-to-month to track your habits over the course of the year. One such tool, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), is called the Home Energy Saver.

While not the most accurate of energy measurement tools, the Home Energy Saver is a good option when it comes to general level online insights into energy consumption in one’s home. This tool brings “advanced building simulation software” to users to help them identify ways to maximize their home energy efficiency. Much of this information is based on home factors such as size, age and geographic location. The LBNL has made updates to the tool since it was introduced a few years ago as well to help with accuracy.

An example of the information this online tool provides consumers would be determining approximately how much money a homeowner could save by having new insulation installed in his or her attic. The software also tells consumers the energy use, bills, or energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for that area's typical house, and a comparable energy-efficient house. This gives a consumer a directional idea of the impact efficiency upgrades can make in overall consumption in the home.

Home Energy Saver breaks out the set of improvements by the home's major energy-using systems: space heating and cooling, water heating, lighting, major appliances, and other 'miscellaneous' appliances that are an increasingly important factor in residential energy bills.

While this is certainly a convenient way for consumers to start getting an idea of upgrades and general energy improvements they can make to their homes, it’s important to note again that results from the tool shouldn’t necessarily be used in the final decision making process for a homeowner contemplating efficiency work. It’s important to speak with qualified and trained professionals, like the ones at Bel Red, to execute a home energy audit and improvement recommendation that is very specific to that particular home. However, tools like these provide consumers with a “first look” into energy efficiency shortfalls they may be experiencing in their home.

If you’d like a more in-depth look at your energy consumption, contact our team today.

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Posted by on in Heating

Colder weather is on our doorstep, which means it’s a perfect time to think about making sure your home heating systems are working properly and are at low risk of failing you when you need it most in the months ahead.

Our trained staff at Bel Red can help make your home heating maintenance checklist a breeze.  We offer a comprehensive, detailed service list that will help ensure not only optimal functionality, but also efficiency of your home heating systems and equipment.

Here’s a list of services we provide when you purchase one of our Peace of Mind Heating Maintenance plans:

  • Replace Standard Air Filter
  • Test Thermostat Operation
  • Test & Inspect Unit Safety Switch
  • Clean & Tighten Electrical Connections As Needed
  • Test Flame Sensor (mA)
  • Test Capacitor #1
  • Measure & Record AMP Draw To Blower Motor / Nameplate (FLA)
  • Blower Motor Volts
  • Inspect Fan Bearings, Fan Blade and Blower Wheel
  • Inspect Blower Wheel counter balance & rotation
  • Record Total System Static Pressure
  • Test Inducer Fan Motor & Blower Assembly
  • Test Condensate Pump
  • Inspect Burner & Flue For Water, Corrosion & Blockage
  • Test Main Burner Ignition / Element Ohm and Amp Draw
  • Clean Burners As Needed
  • Inspect Heat Exchanger For Corrosion, Structural Problems & Erratic Flame
  • Inspect & Record OHM Reading On Hot Surface Igniter
  • Test & Inspect Inducer Fan Motor & Blower Assembly
  • Combustion Analysis Test
  • Inspect Visible Fuel Connections

Aside from heating maintenance, we also offer comprehensive Peace of Mind Maintenance Plans, including Cooling Maintenance Plans, Plumbing Maintenance Plans, Energy Star Recommended Maintenance Plans, and more!

Contact us today using this link to schedule your appointment and let the home maintenance begin!

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Posted by on in Heating

As we’ve discussed many times before on the Bel Red Energy Solutions blog, it’s extremely important to know what different appliances, systems and areas of your home require and use the most energy. This knowledge can allow a savvy homeowner to make smart upgrades to their home that save energy and money and make things much more comfortable in their home.

It’s no secret that furnaces can be one of the biggest energy users in the home. In this blog, we take a look at a few ways having to do to with furnace fans that can be a big factor in much of this high energy usage.

Furnace fans circulate air from the furnace or heat pump to different rooms in a home through that home’s duct system. In the winter months, this fan is on for a large percent of the day and night, pumping necessary warm air throughout the house. In homes with central air, cool air is pushed through the house using the same system, which means many homeowners require their furnace fan to be on for most of the year. Unfortunately, the furnace fan is the portion of the furnace that needs the most energy to run, requiring about 12 percent of the average home’s electricity. For homes with central air, heating and cooling costs and energy requirements for the furnace fan are about the same.

Of course, the easiest way to ensure you aren’t wasting a lot of energy being consumed by your furnace fan, aside from changes in behavior, is installing a new furnace with a variable speed (ECM - Electronically Commutated Motor) fan. Newer, energy-efficient furnaces have fans that require much less energy to run. In typically older furnaces, as much as 20-30% of the energy produced can be wasted due to inefficiencies with the unit. At the top of the list of inefficiencies is the furnace fan. Variable speed fans (with brushless magnetic motors) are quieter, use substantially less energy, and can provide better comfort than traditional furnace fans. These fans, also known as “smart fans” adjust their energy usage based on varying heating or cooling needs in the home, resulting in less wasted energy.

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until you can afford to purchase a whole new furnace in order to get the most efficiency out of your furnace fan. Evergreen motors, called ECM motors, can be installed directly onto existing furnaces, making the energy savings process much faster, easier and more cost efficient than full furnace replacements. The efficient motors replace the need for older PSC heating and cooling motors. With just a simple fan upgrade by a professional like Bel Red, many existing furnaces can realize an electricity savings of 30-50%!

If you’re interested in finding out if your furnace fan is hogging a lot of electricity and adding to your home energy bills, call us today for a free consultation. We can also provide a comprehensive home performance assessment to help identify other areas of cost-efficient improvement for your home.

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We know upgrading home performance is at the top of many homeowners’ lists and especially strong on their minds this time of year. We also know that it’s sometimes difficult to make big decisions, upgrade equipment like heating and cooling systems, replace windows or appliances, or even make efficiency upgrades like add additional insulation or weatherstripping. These all come with a cost, and those costs can add up quickly.

Fortunately, there are some great incentive programs in the state of Washington and specifically in our local area that can help ease the cost of some of these key home energy and performance upgrades.

While you can see a complete list of current incentives for the State of Washington here, we’ve pulled out one in particular offered by Seattle City Light that covers a wide range of efficiency upgrades for our readers, which we’ve highlighted below:

Seattle City Light - Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate ProgramA financial incentive rebate program set up to encourage the purchase and installation of Energy Star appliances and other energy efficiency upgrades. Some sample rebate amounts include:

  • Refrigerator: $50
  • Refrigerator/Freezer Recycling:
  • $30 (Cannot be combined with Refrigerator Rebate)
  • Clothes Washer: $100
  • Heat Pump Water Heater: $500
  • Ductless Heat Pump: $1,200

The incentive program can rebate up to a maximum of $2,000 for weatherization upgrades and up to a total of $4,500 for projects including replacement of windows, installation of heating and cooling systems, and other larger projects.

Seattle City Light also provides rebates for home performance assessments, which can be the best place to start. More information regarding program requirements and incentive amounts are available on the program web site. We’re also always very happy to help find the right rebate program to match your home performance improvement project. Just call us today to get started.

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