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It’s a reality that there are a number of things that can go wrong in our homes that can jeopardize our safety and comfort. Fortunately, there are also things we can do to ensure our homes provide us with safe and comfortable environments. At Bel Red, we pride ourselves on identifying and recommending the most important of these steps to all of our customers. To help a bit more, we thought it would be a good idea to write about a few suggestions we have to be proactive about comfort and safety problems in your home.

 

·      Install an electrical surge protector. Electrical surge protectors can ensure your comfort (heating and cooling) system, appliances and other valuable electronics don’t get harmed during a power surge, spike or brownout. Depending on your needs, you can choose from whole-house or in-line surge arrestors. Both are very effective at preventing damage to your home’s precious systems and equipment.

·      Use a programmable thermostat. Near the top of the “comfort essentials” list in any type of home, you’ll likely see programmable thermostats. These devices can make keeping your home at peak comfort level year round a breeze. There are many models available today that meet the needs of any homeowners looking to increase comfort in their homes. As another (huge) bonus, programmable thermostats can save the average homeowner up to 33% in annual heating and cooling costs. That’s comfort for your home and your wallet.

·      Check to see if your appliances have water damage protection devices. Condensing appliances, such as air conditioners or heat pumps, can sometimes cause damage if they develop a leak. Water sensors and automatic shut-off devices on these important appliances and systems can help avoid these problems. Being proactive and having these installed can help minimize damage and keep these home comfort systems running smoothly.

·      Install an automatic earthquake shut-off valve. In the event of an earthquake, homes can realize damage and safety concerns beyond foundation or structural damage or disturbance. Gas leaks and fire damage can also occur. Fortunately, there are automatic earthquake gas shutoff valves that will prevent dangerous gases leaking into your home as a result of an earthquake.

If you’ve ever undertaken a home improvement project, you know things can get messy. Not just in the sense of a few things going wrong from time to time with the actual project, but things can actually get messy around your home. Dust, dirt and debris can come out of seemingly nowhere and cover your house—not just the room in which the improvement is occurring.

 

Many homeowners mistakenly assume that replacing installing a heating or plumbing appliance is simple – like plugging in a refrigerator or toaster. Unfortunately, this is not the case:

  • HVAC and plumbing equipment is part of a system in your home, and rarely is the installation simple.
  • Replacements must be brought up to code, and problems with original construction addressed.
  • Modifications to the space can be required.
  • New installations into existing homes must be done without the benefit of open walls, etc., that existed when the home was originally built and this adds difficulty and creates potential for even more problems.
  • Aside from the temporary mess of home improvement and installations, unforeseen problems and incidental damage are also sometimes realities.

 

Even with the best professional installers, unforeseen problems can arise. As a homeowner, it’s important to know that our team at Bel Red will do their best to mitigate these problems, and resolve them if they do occur. However, we understand it can be frustrating for homeowners when these types of things happen, so we wanted to provide a few notes on how to best prepare for these types of large projects:

  • Contracting with experienced, professional companies such as Bel Red can reduce this stress to a minimum. Make sure any contractor you choose is licensed, bonded, insured, and has required workers compensation insurance for all employees on the job site. Don’t even think about hiring an unlicensed contractor – the risk is too great! Finally, get references, and take time to talk to customers who have done similar work with the company.

Posted by on in Safety

If you’re a regular reader of the Bel Red blogs, you’ve probably seen a lot of mentions of many different aspects of home energy, safety and efficiency. One such topic discussed in many different posts is indoor air quality. While some may have a fantastic understanding of the factors and causes behind good or poor indoor air quality, we wanted to be sure to give a detailed overview of this important topic. Ensuring you have good indoor air quality could not only make your home a more comfortable place to live, it could also keep you and your loved ones healthier and safer. Here are some questions and answers that should give you a great overview on the importance of indoor air quality:

 

What is indoor air quality (IAQ)?

Indoor air quality is the air quality within your home as it relates to the home’s inhabitants’ health and comfort.

 

What causes poor indoor air quality?

Poor indoor air quality is typically caused by a few different factors. First, indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of poor air quality. In addition to these sources, inadequate air ventilation can cause these gases and particles to build up and become even more harmful. Typically, a certain amount of outdoor air needs to be brought into the home to dilute these harmful particles and gases within the home to maintain good indoor air quality. If not enough fresh air is able to circulate, the overall air quality will suffer greatly. High temperature and humidity can also play a huge part in increasing the concentration of these harmful pollutants.

 

What are some pollution sources that can cause poor indoor air quality?

These sources have a wide variety, making it important to have a well-rounded knowledge of potential causes of poor indoor air quality. Very commonly, heating sources including gas, oil, kerosene, coal or wood can all be sources of harmful pollutants if not properly ventilated. These heating sources can emit harmful gases such as carbon monoxide if not properly cared for. Additional sources include dangerous and harmful things such as mold or asbestos within the house. Malfunctioning appliances, specifically stoves or space heaters can also be harmful to your home’s indoor air quality.

Posted by on in General

One of our Core Values at Bel Red Energy Solutions is Delight – Creating memorable experiences. We work hard to empower our staff to create these experiences, and while we know there is always room to improve, we generally think we do a good job with this. A recent experience with Hertz Rent-a-Car reminded me, however, that our perspective is not what matters; it is the customer’s perspective. Despite the following bad experience, some good did come from it—the realization that we can further improve our recognition of touch-points with our customers, and a renewed focus on our Core Value of Delight.

 

I had to fly to Philadelphia from Seattle for the funeral of a loved one. I was a pall bearer at the funeral, and getting to-and-from the funeral, memorial service, and family members’ homes was critical for this brief, but important trip. I rented a car from Hertz, where I am a Gold member, having used Hertz for both business and vacation car rentals for over 12 years and have been happy with their service.

 

My rental car was waiting for me at the lot when I arrived, and I drove to my lodging location without incident. When I went to drive to the funeral service the next morning, the car would not start. There was battery power, but the starter would not engage. I had an hour to get to the funeral (a 30-45 minute drive). I called the company’s roadside assistance and was told it would be an hour before a truck would arrive. I informed them that I could not wait and made arrangements for a ride from a family member.

 

After the funeral, I returned to the car, with a few hours to decompress before I had to go to another service. I called the roadside assistance number again, re-explained the problem, and asked that they send a tow-truck. I was informed it would be up to an hour, and it was all of that until the truck arrived. Unfortunately, a tow-truck was not dispatched. Instead they sent a battery service vehicle. The operator found the battery was fully charged, and the vehicle would not start even with a jump-start. They had not listened to and trusted a “valued” customer.

 

Upon calling again, I was told it would take another hour to get a tow-truck to me, at which point they would tow me back to the airport, exchange the car, and I would then have to drive back. I informed them that this would take several hours, and I just didn’t have the time. Rather then sending someone out to me with a new car (which would have really wowed me – and saved the day) they suggested I call back later when I had the time. Another opportunity lost. I then arranged for a family member to pick me up again for the next service.

 

After a dinner with family, and the service, I returned to my lodgings around 8 pm, and called to have the tow truck sent. I arrived at the airport lot’s car distribution center at 10 pm, where no one was expecting me, and was not sure how they would get me to the airport lot for a new car. Obviously, interdepartmental communication is another issue with which they struggle. The staff there was actually very sympathetic and helpful, and quickly arranged for a ride to the airport lot via a transport van. I was hopeful that my ordeal would soon be over.

 

At the airport lot, I encountered a rental agent who, while trying to be helpful, showed no sympathy or any regard for what had transpired. He informed me that he tried to get me an upgraded car, but none were available, and he actually put me into a car one-level lower than the one I had rented (that smelled of smoke to boot). I told the counter agent that I did not want to pay for the rental, as I did not have use of it. The counter agent told me that he wasn’t authorized to issue any credits, but gave me the number for customer service and assured me that they would be able to help me.

 

I called them the next morning, and spent 15 minutes going through automated phone trees and sitting on hold. When I finally got to talk to a live person, I relayed my story to them. The agent apologized profusely, and seemed genuinely sympathetic, but then told me that she could not do anything to help me until after the vehicle was returned and the rental contract closed out. She told me that the only person who was actually able to do anything to resolve the situation was the location manager, and to talk to them when I returned the car. They clearly do not place emphasis on trust or empowerment of their employees to satisfy customers. Yet another opportunity lost.

Mr. Hoffman recently experienced common problem homeowners with older homes face – original or out-of-date heating systems shutting down or not working properly. Recognizing the need to an upgrade to his system, he called in our Bel Red professionals to take a look.

 

During a full evaluation and assessment of Mr. Hoffman’s home, the Bel Red team found areas for major improvement that could have big impacts on his home’s efficiency and comfort. In addition to the installation of newer equipment in his home and water heating systems, Mr. Hoffman selected to change from electric heating to gas heating. This required running almost 100 feet of new gas pipe to five different locations in his home.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_gas-installation.png

 

To replace the home’s original gas furnace, our team installed a 95% efficient Rheem RGFG furnace with all new venting and condensation drains. This top of the line, two-stage model from Rheem will certainly lead to a huge reduction of energy needs to make Mr. Hoffman’s home comfortable. This Rheem furnace provides exceptional comfort with a modulating gas valve to provide only as much heat as is needed, coupled with a variable speed fan to gently mix and distribute the air throughout the home. To complete the furnace portion of the job, the Bel Red team added three new supply duct runs to allow for proper airflow to the new furnace. A media filter was also installed to increase filtration of the air that was being heated.

 

 

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(original furnace and water heater)

 

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(new furnace and water heater)

 

In addition to the installation of the new furnace system, proper sealing and insulation was also installed in Mr. Hoffman’s attic, which will have a huge impact on his monthly energy bill bottom line all year round. Full weatherization work was performed in his attic, with all penetrations between the house and attic being sealed. This should also help maximize the comfort of his home.

 

Finally, the Bel Red installation professionals helped Mr. Hoffman check the final item off his heating checklist by installing a new Bradford White power-vent hybrid water heater. This hybrid water heater model will provide exceptional hot water delivery to Mr. Hoffman’s home while saving a great deal of energy. All upgrades we recently made to Mr. Hoffman’s home heating systems will have a great impact on his overall energy use and needs. If you’d like to explore how you can save energy and money on your monthly energy bills through home energy improvements, don’t hesitate to reach out today.