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With the deadline for Regional Standards making installation of standard efficiency furnaces illegal in northern states fast approaching, we received breaking news from ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) informing us that the Department of Energy (DOE), in a settlement filed last Friday afternoon, has withdrawn these proposed energy conservation standards.


This settlement is the result of a United States Court of Appeals case brought about by the American Public Gas Association (APGA), in partnership with ACCA, which challenged these standards. The settlement states that the initial plan to set the minimum AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) standards for residential indoor and mobile home gas furnaces at 90% in the Northern region is vacated, along with the pending May 1, 2013 compliance date.


The court still has to approve and accept this settlement. Another point addressed in the settlement states that the DOE also agrees to give stakeholders the opportunity to comment on such matters before similar standards are set forth in the future, which was a huge catalyst to this challenge being brought forth in the first place.


While Bel Red Energy Solutions, like APGA and ACCA, is a long-standing supporter of energy efficiency, we too had significant concerns about this new rule. We saw that it would have inadvertently deterred consumers from purchasing new gas furnaces, which are more cost-efficient than older gas furnaces or electric furnaces. As we outlined in our recent blog post, practical issues such as higher up-front equipment costs, as well as venting and drain requirements, increase the cost of high efficiency furnace options. Consequently, consumers would be incented to repair older furnaces, or to buy electric appliances that are initially cheaper to install, but are ultimately more costly in the long term.

Like hybrid vehicles that combine the best of both gas and electric engines, and provide real benefits to their owners, hybrid water heaters can offer real benefits to their users as well. 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. This includes:

  • Huge supply of hot water
  • Great energy efficiency


In fact, unlike tankless water heaters, hybrid water heaters:

  • Work in a power outage (except power vent models)
  • Have no additional wait time for hot water
  • Do not have issues with flow rate
  • Can be used with recirculation pumps for even faster response time
  • Usually don’t require expensive gas piping, venting, or gas meter/supply line upgrades
  • Fit the same footprint as most 40-gallon traditional tanks

As you may have seen in a post earlier this month on the Bel Red Home Energy blog, the City of Seattle has implemented an energy savings program called the Seattle City Light Community Power Works Program. This program is an energy savings initiative designed to deliver energy efficiency solutions to Seattle’s residential and business communities, while working to create economic growth in the city through these savings and improvements. Bel Red is proud to be an approved contractor for the CPW program.


There are a number of different aspects to the energy savings program implemented by the city, many of which have to do with heating usage and savings. In some cases, a replacement or upgrade of a heating system could result in thousands of dollars of savings if executed through this program. In fact, the average savings for overall utility rebates through Seattle City Light is $900. It also covers many different types of home heating systems – rebates for many of which are only available to Community Power Works participants.  The savings from this program will also go far beyond the initial costs of installations or upgrades, as heating and cooling savings will stretch over the lifetime of the new system.

Posted by on in General


We'd like to take a moment to wish all of our staff, customers and community a very happy holiday. We're very grateful for all of the support that helps make Bel Red successful. We truly hope you all enjoy your time with your friends and family this holiday season. If you are traveling, please do so safely.


As always, our on-call staff will be available around the clock to assist with any emergencies that may arise. Please feel free to reach out in the case of an emergency.


Happy Holidays!

Posted by on in Safety

A new Washington State carbon monoxide (CO) detector code takes effect January 1st, 2013.  This new code requires carbon monoxide alarms be installed on each floor of a home and outside each bedroom or sleeping area of the home. 


For new construction, the code will take effect in conjunction with the new build. For existing homes and dwellings, these carbon monoxide detectors will have to be installed when major alterations, repairs or additions requiring a permit occur. This includes most HVAC or plumbing work that is done to existing homes. For now, exterior surface work such as roof or siding replacement or the addition of replacement windows or does not fall under these guidelines. This addition to the 2011 law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in new builds also extends that requirement to all existing residences, including apartments, condos, hotels, dormitories and residential institutions.


This is also something to be thinking about if you are in the process of buying or selling a new home. Some appraisers are looking for the carbon monoxide alarms and calling for them to be installed before closing on the house.  If you’re buying a home, make sure the seller is aware that this is best done prior to the appraisal.  Should the appraiser have to return for another inspection, the buyer may have to pay for the additional inspection just because of the initial lack of these detectors.