Bel Red Energy Blog
Autumn is a time of year when leaves start to change and fall off and temperatures begin to steadily cool. There are many things to keep in mind for staying warm indoors. We recently wrote a post that briefly discussed the importance of preparing your home, appliances and heating systems for the winter months ahead. There are a number of items that must be inspected and measures taken to make sure you and your loved ones will experience a comfortable winter. We highly recommend using our Home Maintenance Handbook as a checklist that can be revisited around this time each year to make sure your equipment and home are performing to their highest possible potential. Here are a few items for specific attention:
· Inspect your fireplace and chimney each year. While some may think that chimneys and fireplaces don’t need regular care or inspection, many fireplaces can be dangerous when left alone. This is especially true in older homes with fireplaces and chimneys that are decades (or more) old as flammable creosote can build up over time, and mortar can fail Whether you have a wood burning fireplace, or a gas fireplace insert, chimney and fireplace inspection is a must, and autumn is a great time to do it. If you inspect your chimney and find cracks or need cleaning, it’s best to contact a professional to repair, as this can be dangerous if not done properly.
· Inspect and clean your furnace. We recently wrote on the blog in detail about furnace care and maintenance, but this topic can’t be overstated. Having your furnace regularly inspected and cleaned not only can make your home’s heating system safe, it can also save a ton of money if you experience a cold winter. The more efficient a furnace and HVAC system is, the less energy it will require to run. This is especially true when it’s bitter cold and the furnace has to work extra hard to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Again, ensure that the air filters are properly changed based on the recommended timeframe. Be sure to check your thermostat setting on your furnace to find a good balance between energy efficiency and heating needs.
· Check all window and door seals. Many homeowners all but throw away money by not inspected and fixing cracks and other air leaks around their doors and windows. Even the slightest leak can cause a great deal of energy and warm air to escape from inside the home. Be sure this isn’t happening to you. While there are some great visual tests you can do yourself, it’s often best and most thorough to contact a professional, such as Bel Red, to perform an energy audit using specialized tools to alert you to any problems that may have escaped the untrained eye. Remember – a little bit of weatherstripping or caulking can go a long way toward saving you money this winter. Now is the time to make sure it’s in place.
Today and tomorrow (October 1st and 2nd), I will be in Austin, Texas attending the 2013 ACCA Building Performance Forum. I am also honored to share that I will be a featured presenter at this year’s show along with many of the industry’s brightest and most knowledgeable individuals.
The ACCA Building Performance brings together some of the top minds from the HVAC and building performance fields for comprehensive industry discussions and presentations. The conference includes detailed educational sessions on a wide array of topics – from understanding airflow measurements to tips on changing from an HVAC contractor to a building performance contractor. The overall goal of the conference is to allow attendees to learn the best ways to collectively maximize the true potential of the HVAC industry. The conference includes general sessions and presentations as well as continuing education units, during which attendees can gain NATE and BPI certification credits.
This morning, I was fortunate enough to take the stage as a featured presenter during the conference’s first day. My presentation – Mining for Gold - How to Develop Home Performance Leads from HVAC Customers – covered a number of different lead generation tips and topics as they pertain to our industry. As contractors, we often realize that getting leads can sometimes be a somewhat difficult thing. But, many times the leads are right under our noses – we just have to recognize and develop them. Even in a market with historically week home performance incentives, such as ours, much of the business we get doesn’t come from government or utility based programs. We have to build most of our business and customer relationships from the ground up.
We’re thrilled to share on the blog that Bel Red Energy Solutions was recently recognized with an award for outstanding service and customer satisfaction. The Bothell/Kenmore Reporter included Bel Red in its selection for “Best of Northshore 2013” businesses. As a follow up to the award, the American Registry added Bel Red Energy Solutions to the "Registry of Business Excellence(TM)"
We are very proud and grateful to be selected for this award and recognition. We strive for business excellence here at Bel Red and recognitions such as these confirm these efforts are extremely worthwhile.
Our continued commitment to high quality customer service continues to be one of our strongest business practices here at Bel Red. Regardless of the project or team executing the work, we want to make sure all customers are satisfied when the job is complete. We take customer feedback, both positive and negative, extremely seriously and are constantly looking for ways to get even better at what we do.
It’s for these reasons of commitment and customer satisfaction that we guarantee and stand behind everything we sell and do. Most of all, we’re about great people dedicated to serving customers like you. We truly walk the talk every day. When we hire new Bel Red team members, we hire not only highly qualified and knowledgeable staff, but we also make sure we’re hiring caring people who are able to carry the Bel Red promise into their work, day in and day out. We understand that a majority of our work is done in a home that you own and care for, which is why we treat all service and installation projects as if they were in our own homes. We bring kindness and respect to all of our customers and strive to ensure that every individual we serve is comfortable when our staff is present.
We’d be honored to add you to our growing list of satisfied customers. Again, we’re honored to receive these awards and recognitions – none of it would be possible without our great clients and customers.
Bel Red strives to be at the forefront of the home energy industry when it comes to overall knowledge and trends. We commit a great deal of effort and resources to training all members of our staff and providing them with the best educational opportunities available. We also take pride our employees’ abilities to pass along this information not only to our valued customers, but also to other individuals and organizations within the industry.
One of our great employees and Service Manager here at Bel Red, Darrick Philp, will get the chance to do just that this year. Darrick has been selected to represent the residential heating and air conditioning industry on Honeywell's 2013 Residential Contractor Council. This council provides input to Honeywell on new products, industry trends, and technical issues. Honeywell is the largest manufacturer of controls and thermostats, as well as indoor air quality equipment, in the United States.
“We’re honored to be selected by Honeywell as part of this Council for the second time since 2010. We know that Darrick will be a real asset to them, given his technical background and expertise, as well as his understanding of the HVAC marketplace, and the needs of contractors and our customers”, said Don Millard, President of Bel Red Energy Solutions. “Changes in our industry are occurring constantly with technical advancements in HVAC systems, Federal and State governments driving energy efficiency, and the rapid development of smart-grid technology. Honeywell is working in the middle of all of these developments, and we're looking forward to helping them to meet these challenges and to make these technological changes accessible to our customers.”
It may be sad, but it’s a reality that the summer months are now drawing to a close. This means it’s that time of year – time to start thinking about preparing your home for the cold months ahead. Starting this preparation now can help you avoid many last-minute headaches that come along with heating system problems, troubleshooting and maintenance. Certainly one of the items to check off the winter preparation list is making sure your furnace is in proper working order and ready to maximize its own efficiency and performance.
Regular maintenance of your furnace, even in months when it is not in heavy use, can help ensure longevity of the system. This can save homeowners big in the long run – in terms of money, stress and time. It’s true that it’s very easy to ignore your furnace when it is working properly. Many times homeowners don’t pay any attention to the heating system until something goes wrong, which can be a stressful and potential dangerous situation. By properly caring for and preparing your furnace for the winter months ahead, you’ll avoid a troublesome, horribly timed mishap during a cold winter day or night.
So, what are the proper steps to maintaining and preparing your furnace?
1. First, it’s imperative that you make sure the air filter is changed regularly. Energy Star recommends changing your filter at least every 3 months. There are some filters that don’t require replacement as often, but be sure to know the recommendation for your particular brand and type of filters. Regularly changing the filters will help keep your system running cleanly and efficiently.
2. Next, it’s a great idea to check all connections and “moving parts” on the furnace. Just because the furnace sits still in one place in your basement doesn’t mean connections and parts can’t loosen or even come undone. Checking all connections – electrical, gas or air/vent related will let you know whether or not you have to repair any problems. Pay specific and careful attention to any gas lines or connections. Faulty gas connections can be a health hazard to those in your home and can potentially be extremely dangerous. It’s often a good idea to have regular inspections done by a contractor or your gas provider to ensure maximum safety.
3. It’s also a great idea to check the thermostat setting on your furnace. In order to stay comfortable, many homeowners tend to change the thermostat setting during different times of the year. Finding the “sweet spot” between comfort and energy savings prior to each season is highly recommended.