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Posted by on in General

The typical home and family requires a lot of hot water for everyday needs. From showers, to laundry to dishwashing, our homes require a lot of hot water on a very regular basis. The amount of hot water needed tends to grow exponentially for families with children living at home. A big chunk of a homeowner’s gas or electric bill is usually attributed to the their water heating needs. According to the Department of Energy, water heating is the second largest energy expense in the average home. It typically accounts for upwards of 18% of a home’s utility bill. So, naturally, people often ask how they can save some money on these bills when it comes to the water heating line item. Here are a few tips that can help accomplish that goal:


1. Use less hot water. While this may seem like common sense, it’s easy to get carried away with the amount of hot water we use in the home. Whether it’s staying in the warm shower for a few extra minutes or leaving the faucet running constantly while washing dishes by hand, it’s easy to add up the gallons of hot water we’re using. Fortunately, we can take actions like installing low-flow faucets and showerheads or repairing leaky faucets to cut down on the amount of hot water used. Believe it or not, a leaky faucet can waste gallons of water in a very short period of time. Consolidating laundry or dishwasher loads and making sure these appliances are completely full each time they are run is another great way to save hot water. These actions will also help save on your home’s overall water bill, if you get water from a public source.


2. Insulate your water heater tank and pipes. Insulating both electric and gas water heaters can help save a lot of money as well. As you likely know, traditional tank water heaters monitor the temperature of the water and kick on if the water drops below a specified temperature. By properly insulating these units, you can maximize the time the water in these tanks stays hot, reducing the overall needed heating time. When insulating, it’s important to remember not to cover the thermostat on electric water heaters. On gas models, be sure to not cover the top or bottom of the unit, the thermostat of the unit, or the burner compartment. It’s also a good idea to properly insulate both the hot and cold water pipes connected to the units. The DOE recommends insulating the first 6 feet of each of these pipes. If you’re unsure of proper water heater insulation techniques, be sure to either consult the manufacturer’s instructions or contact a professional.


3. Turn down the thermostat on your water heater. This is perhaps one of the most overlooked money saving tactics for homeowners’ hot water usage. If your water gets too hot to touch, or even close to it, chances are good your thermostat temperature is set much higher than it needs to be. We mentioned in the last tip that tank water heaters maintain the temperature of hot water for when it’s needed. Even lowering this maintained target temperature a few degrees can have a big impact on the overall energy usage. A temperature of 120 degrees is typically sufficient for the needs of most households.

Posted by on in General

We recently wrote a post over on our Home Energy blog regarding reducing loud noises that make their way from outside your home to inside your living areas. As we mention in that post, these noises can be annoying and even prevent us from being able to get things done around the house. One of those loud external noises that people often hear and experience is loud air conditioning units. Whether these units are our own or belong to a close neighbor, they can sometimes cause a loud motor hum that can creep its way through our home’s walls and windows and go straight to our heads.


There are some common problems that can cause loud air conditioning units. Fortunately, there are also some very viable solutions to limit this noise. First and foremost, proper AC unit maintenance and service is the number one way to get around loud noise from these systems. Especially in older units, just a small performance issue or problem can lead to noise. If you’re experiencing unusually loud noise coming from your air conditioner, it’s best to call in an expert right away. Full AC service by certified professionals can ensure everything is in proper working order.


These professionals can check fan motors, compressors and other moving parts within the unit to make sure everything is in good shape. These professionals will be able to pinpoint to root cause of the noise and provide a solution to the problem. They can also take things a step further when it comes to full air conditioning unit service and inject AC Renew into the refrigerant in the system. This product is a lubricant for the AC unit and helps reduce compressor noise. AC service, repair and maintenance isn’t just good for our ears, it’s also good for our wallets. Having an air conditioner working properly not only minimizes noise coming from the unit, it also maximizes its efficiency—regardless of the make or model.


Another common problem that may be causing a lot of air conditioning unit noise entering your home doesn’t have anything to do with the unit itself. Poor windows can also have a lot to do with external noise getting into your home. As we mentioned in that same recent blog post, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace all of your windows if this is the cause of the loud noise inside. There are some other solutions to the problem of faulty windows.

Posted by on in Safety

Carbon Monoxide should be on everyone’s home safety list. The CO (carbon monoxide) detector is something that all homes with should have to keep them safe from this deadly, colorless and odorless gas.  Despite the fact that it’s fairly common knowledge to have properly working CO detectors in the home, there are some other facts about these devices that many do not know. These facts contradict certain myths regarding CO detectors. We want to make sure you know about them so you can protect yourselves and your loved ones.


As you may know, carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly with high levels of exposure. These types of levels are typically a result of improper ventilation from home heating sources, cooking appliances, 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. More than 20,000 become ill from this harmful gas on an annual basis. Clearly, its dangers cannot be understated, which is why having a properly functional and high quality CO detector is necessary.


Many homeowners think that having a standard CO detector will keep them safe from carbon monoxide poisoning no matter what. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case, especially depending on who lives in your home. Believe it or not, most common and standard CO detectors are built to standards designed to “only protect a healthy young adult.” Furthermore, this definition of “young adult” is said to include a healthy individual between the ages of 18 and 22, which clearly leaves out a majority of individuals within a home.  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.”

There are some big efficiency changes coming to residential water heaters in the coming years. Starting in April of 2015, new efficiency standards for common water heaters will go into effect. In a decision and announcement made in 2010, the Department of Energy (DOE) released these new standards to give manufacturers, consumers and contractors time to prepare for these changes. If you’re thinking about a water heater upgrade in the near future, these decisions could affect you.


According to the DOE, the efficiency standard revisions, once in place, could save consumers up to $10 billion and prevent the release of 164 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. The new efficiency standards will also reduce overall air pollution, prevent the release of extremely harmful nitrogen oxides and mercury and “avoid emissions equivalent to taking 46 million cars of the road for one year.” These are pretty drastic energy and pollution savings if the DOE’s calculations are correct.


These new standards cover both gas and electric water heaters, so they will have an impact on most homeowners and suppliers. Each type of water heating unit will have This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.&YM_MID=1401792&sfvc4enews=42">new specific energy requirements once the regulations go into effect in 2015. The typical standard of measurement for water heaters is called the energy factor (EF), which measures a water heater’s efficiency based on the amount of hot water it can produce for each unit of fuel (gas or electricity) over the course of a regular use day. The EF also indicates how efficiently heat is transferred from the energy source of the water heater to the actual water.


According to then Secretary of the DOE, Steven Chu, the potential energy saved will be crucial to increasing the overall efficiency of homes in this country in the coming years. "These energy-conserving appliance standards are a critical part of the Administration's overall efforts to save energy in homes and businesses nationwide," says Secretary Chu. "By raising the energy efficiency requirements of our everyday appliances, we will save money for American families and companies, reduce carbon pollution, and enhance our energy security for decades to come."

Posted by on in General

If you are thinking about replacing your furnace, we’ve taken steps here at Bel Red to make that as easy and quick as possible. We understand that your time is valuable, and sometimes you may not have any concerns about comfort, efficiency, or indoor air quality – you just need heat, which is why we try to make the process of quotes and estimates for this type of work painless.  We now offer an online estimate tool featuring free Quick Quote technology for fast estimates on basic furnace replacements.


Is the online estimate tool right for you? Well, it depends on the type of work you need done and the situation you find yourself in when considering hiring a contractor for heating and cooling installations, repair or upgrades. The Quick Quote tool is done completely online, making the exploratory portion of this process much easier than it has traditionally been. The tool provides a price estimate only, so it’s perfect for those without any concerns regarding comfort, energy savings, indoor air quality or other topics that could potentially factor into this type of work. If you do have questions in these areas, it is best to schedule in-person evaluation, which is also free. This in-person evaluation provides a customized quote based on specific and individual needs and provides you with answers to your heating and cooling project questions. For the most comprehensive and customized look into the needs of your home, we always offer complete Home Energy Audits, which comprehensively identifies all energy and comfort-related issues, and offers solutions to improve them.


So, how does the online estimate tool work? It’s simple – you fill out the online request form with your project detail and information and we’ll email you an estimate within one business day.  If you decide to purchase based on the estimate, there are a few steps necessary before we can start the project. A brief on-site assessment is necessary to ensure there are no installation issues. This visit also allows us to have you fill out the proper and required paperwork and conveniently schedule the installation. If we do find issues during this visit, our Bel Red professionals will thoroughly review all options you have to move forward. You are under no obligation to proceed with the installation at this point. We always want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible with all information relevant to your home energy and heating and cooling installation needs.