Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘Weatherization’ Category

Energy Saver 101: Home Performance Assessment

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Having a qualified and experienced inspector perform a Home Performance Assessment is the first step to determining how to best prioritize efficiency upgrades and ultimately save you money on your energy bills.

You may have heard these referred to as Energy Audits, or some similarly negative phrase that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Instead of looking at this as an anxiety-inducing inspection (thank you, IRS), we find it far more accurate to think of HPAs as a tool for big-picture analysis of your home’s indoor air quality, potential energy-loss areas, evenly-heated rooms, and other issues. Home Performance Assessments are done to better your family’s well-being and safety. We’re on your side!

Your home is likely the biggest investment that you will make; getting a Home Performance Assessment can ensure it operates efficiently, comfortably and safely. A Home Performance Assessment can result in utility bill savings between 20 and 50 percent–with the ever-rising cost of utilities, the potential savings grow each year.

Through utility bill analysis, infiltrometer testing, thermographic imaging, duct leakage and repair, indoor humidity and moisture control, combustion gas analysis, weatherization services and IAQ analysis, a Home Performance Assessment is the best and most comprehensive step for you to take towards saving money and improving your home.

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3 Tips For Cleaner Indoor Air

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Could your family be breathing unhealthy indoor air?


The Environmental Protection Agency says most of us spend over 90% of the time indoors, and that the indoor air is usually over 10 times more polluted than outdoor air. Respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma plague many families.Their suffering is often made worse by the air in their home. While many issues like poisonous carbon monoxide gas are undetectable with our senses, some homes have mysterious black stains, lingering musty odors, or visible mold. Unsightly excessive dust on the furniture is another common concern. In many homes it seems to reappear just a few days after house cleaning.

Here are some proven ways to reduce dust and help your family breathe easier:

Have A Central High-Efficiency Air Filter Installed: Typical throwaway furnace filters do not even adequately protect your equipment from getting fouled up, let alone protect you from the smallest invisible respirable particles. But be careful with retail store “high efficiency” one inch thick filters – we routinely get service calls after people put them in as they quickly get plugged. This chokes the airflow, which greatly reduces comfort and can even damage your equipment. Ask us about new options for installing a new high efficiency – high capacity air cleaner at the equipment. The best are pleated media filters, typically four to six inches thick, that only need to be changed once a year and don’t restrict your airflow. Note however that even the best filter can’t totally eliminate visible dust in the home, simply because visible dust is heavy and often settles on furniture before it gets to the filter.Test For Contaminated Air Infiltration: Where is that dust coming from? Are you breathing good air or bad air? Fresh air coming in through window and door leaks is usually less than 20% of a home’s incoming air. Building scientists have recently discovered that in the typical home, over half the incoming air first passes through the contaminated attached garage, crawlspace, basement or attic.

Air pollutants such as pollen and mold spores, carbon monoxide, automobile exhaust, crystallized rodent urine proteins, radon gas, crawlspace moisture, insulation fibers and volatile organic chemicals can contaminate this incoming air, and negatively affect your family’s health and safety. An Infiltrometer blower door test pinpoints where the bad air leaks are, and provides guidance on how to fix them. Many can be easily repaired by homeowners as weekend projects. Others such as duct leaks are better left to professionals. Finding and fixing the leaks that let in bad air will make your home healthier, less humid in the summer, less dusty, more comfortable, and even pay for itself through lower heating, cooling and repair bills.

When there are duct leaks it’s important to “Seal Your ductwork” to prevent the contaminants including dust, allergens, and pollutants from entering the air stream in the first place. Aeroseal patented technology is the most effective technique available for sealing ducts. If Aeroseal duct sealing isn’t an option, then hand sealing with mastic is better than not sealing at all. In addition to the indoor air quality benefits, duct sealing can save you up to 30% on your energy bills, while increasing your comfort level by reducing temperature differences between floors and hard to heat or cool rooms.

Repair Leaky Recessed Can Lights: One of the worst common leaks are recessed can lights. They inadvertently connect your living space to your attic – which is often the unhealthiest space in a home. Luckily most of these lights can be upgraded to LED inserts at a reasonable cost. During the Infiltrometer test, ask us to inspect your recessed can lights to see if they are an upgrade opportunity. They quickly pay for themselves through lower electric bills, and the savings on heating and cooling.

You don’t have to put up with unhealthy indoor air. Give your home performance trained HVAC contractor a call! You now have lots of options. They will be happy to chat about these and many other new ways you can help your family breathe easier.

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Home Performance Financing 101

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Is all this talk about Energy Upgrades and Home Performance getting you down because you’d love to make improvements to your home, but lack the finances to make it happen?

Believe it or not, we were in  the same boat (even though we both work in the industry). We were aware of the enormous benefits of a weatherized, insulated, and efficiently heated home for years before we finally pulled the trigger. I always just assumed we couldn’t afford it! I was completely in the dark about just how many financing options were available. That’s our home in the photo above, being tested for all things Home Performance related. That very home is now fully sealed/weatherized/efficiently heated/ventilated/basically every upgrade we could think of, for just under $100/month with the financing we received!

What types of financing are available and how to begin?

There are 4 basic types of financing for Energy/Home Performance/Heating upgrades.

  1. Energy Upgrade-Specific Financing: This is probably your best bet if you qualify, and it is the route we went for financing. Check out Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union’s ENERGY SMART loans. PSCCU is a co-op bank geared toward local, environmental, and energy-savings solutions. And, they have fantastic rates! Must be in WA State to work with them, but check with your local financial institutions to see if your state has a similar program.
  2. A traditional Home Improvement Loan. This will likely be a little more expensive, but still a great option, and usually a better rate than a personal loan. Check with your current bank for their home improvement financing options.
  3. Personal Loan. Again, check with the bank you already do business with. A lot of times, you’ll get your best rate there, because they know you and want to keep your business. Personal loans tend to be a little more costly than other types of loans.
  4. Larger HVAC and Home Performance companies oftentimes have banks they work with, and you can receive significant deals, discounts, and lower rates by going through them. If you live in our area (Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, and Snohomish counties), check out Barron’s financing. We make available a 7.5% 10 year loan through a local bank, and a 6 mo. same-as-cash deal (if you qualify) through a nation-wide bank. Check with your local HVAC company to see if they have similar programs.
  5. Your local Human Services Organization (Bonus option!), though this is less about financing and more about low-income options. Some folks can receive free or very low-cost Home Performance/Weatherization work through the Human Services organization in their area. Our local agency is the Opportunity Council.

What’s Your Return On Investment (ROI)?

Here’s the nitty-gritty. If you’re ready to make the leap with financing, you’re probably asking just how long will it take to break even (between what you’re paying each month and what you’re saving in energy bills)? The basic formula goes like this:

Total cost of the project (divided by) your estimated annual savings = ROI

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say your project costs $10,000 and that allows you to save $1,000 per year in energy bills. Your ROI will occur in 10 years.

Where does one get these numbers? Your HVAC or Home Performance expert can give them to you.

What About Rebates?

The three main rebate programs for energy upgrades and home performance in our area are through Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Cascade Natural Gas (CNG), and the Community Energy Challenge (CEC). Here are direct links to the Applications for Homeowners: PSE Rebates , CNG Rebates, and CEC Information.

Beyond Finances:

Although finances are of primary importance for most people, there ARE other significant benefits to consider beyond the money saved.

  1. Peace of Mind: A new heating/cooling system and weatherization can set your mind at ease; allowing your family to relax without having to worry about shut-downs and repair costs.
  2. Health & Safety: There is ample evidence that people’s HVAC equipment and home are making them sick. An out-of-date, improperly-installed, or inefficient system can be very unhealthy, causing or contributing to myriad health-issues and diseases. And safety issues, such as carbon-monoxide leaks can be an immediate danger.
  3. Comfort: Most people want to create a warm, cozy, comfortable space for their friends and family. This is an undeniable benefit of investing in your home!

If this article has piqued your interest, I hope you will take a minute to contact your bank or HVAC contractor to get the ball rolling! You might be surprised by how affordable it is to create a cozy, efficient, healthy space!

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Introduction to AeroSeal and Duct Repair

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Why are finding Air Duct Leaks important?

You can see a water leak, but an air leak is invisible. Duct leaks can be difficult and costly to find with ductwork hidden between the walls, floors, and ceilings of any residential home or commercial building. The older, traditional use of mastic (a messy caulk-like substance) or taping of leaks not only is less effective than Aeroseal, but also can be very labor-intensive and expensive and can only be applied to ducts with physical access. Other substances break down over time, but the Aeroseal sealant does not and even has a 10 year WARRANTY to back it up.

Do-it-yourselfers might attempt their own fixes, but what about those ducts you or your HVAC specialist can’t see or access? Let Aeroseal handle the entire job and you won’t be tearing up your home or worried about incomplete seals. Aeroseal pinpoints and covers leaks, in roughly an hour, from the inside out with a success rate of up to 98%. Aeroseal is the most effective, affordable, and viable method of sealing air duct leaks on the market.

The measured result of a typical Aeroseal air duct sealing process is shown below:

  • Aeroseal can reduce duct leakage by up to 97%, reduce your energy use by up to 45%.
  • Aeroseal has also been shown to dramatically improve comfort and homeowner satisfaction with their heating and cooling systems.
  • Leaky ducts in a residential home contribute to:
  • Loss of cool and warm conditioned air to the outside or unconditioned spaces of your home resulting in high energy bills
  • Even the most energy-efficient heating and cooling systems not performing at its best
  • Forcing your system to work harder and wear out sooner, costing you yet more money
  • Excess humidity levels that can lead to costly home repairs
  • Hard to heat or cool rooms leading to discomfort
  • Musty odors and other indoor air quality (IAQ) issues

What are the benefits?

  • Airtight savings: The money formerly leaking out of your ducts will stay in your pocket longer
  • Airtight comfort: Your hard to heat or cool rooms will have more even temperatures and be more comfortable
  • Improved air quality: You will see a reduction in dust and humidity, along with fumes and other odors
  • Reaches everywhere: Seals leaks nearly impossible to reach using other methods
  • You’ll be a small part of a bigger solution: A reduction of the amount of air pollution created from generating less energySolve your building air flow and ventilation problems

Posted by Wes Diskin

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