The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has prepared a paper on the ways that utilities, rental property owners and lessees can combine their efforts to reduce the energy used in these structures. They have done this together with CNT Energy, a group that focuses on energy research and solutions to reduce energy usage in communities. The report identifies a major factor in the barrier to improving energy efficiency in this market - the “Split Incentive”.
Energy efficiency improvements to buildings definitely help those tenants that pay their own utility bills - but what about the situation where the rent includes utilities? The building owner may see no profit in making efficiency improvements in the first case. Why spend money to seal up the building envelope and install more efficient appliances when the tenant will see all the benefits? In the second case it may make more sense for the owner to improve efficiency but some have been known to make a profit by raising rent by 10% to pay for higher energy costs when energy expense has only gone up by 5%.
Avoiding the split incentive has been accomplished in some areas by designing rebate programs that encourage owners in both cases to buildings with more efficient appliances and HVAC equipment. The equipment becomes less expensive to use than the less efficient existing products because of the rebates and incentives.
In Lorain County there are some single family homes that have been remodeled into multifamily dwellings. These homes and other apartment buildings can reap many benefits when reducing the amount of energy used by tenants. Our experienced HVAC techs we can analyze these buildings and use our knowledge of incentive programs and state of the art HVAC and plumbing equipment to cut costs for owners and tenants alike.
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At This Old House, they have written quite a few articles that are about improving the bathroom. From knocking out walls in order to find leaky pipes to adding wainscoting as final touch to your bathroom remodeling job, they are the go-to-guys for home improvement advice. Recently a different type of bathroom article appeared and it bears reading. We all know how much time we spend in this part of the house, especially when a cold or the flu strikes.
Two of the problems mentioned were asbestos and lead in paint and old plumbing fixtures with solder on them. These toxic substances are practically an afterthought these days but in the case of lead it was still around in the late seventies so you need to be on the lookout. There are lead testing services that an owner of an older home might want to look into. A passing grade after a lead inspection may lead to an improved price for homeowners insurance so it could be well worth the minor inconvenience.
As we talked about in an earlier post, germs are passed by attaching themselves to you after a sick person touched a counter or your water taps so cleaning them is a must. Mold, mildew and the leaky pipes that cause them fall right in the wheelhouse of our experienced Lorain County plumbing and heating technicians. If you see mold that keeps reappearing after cleaning contact us immediately, a leaky pipe could be on its way to ruining a floor or wall. We can also help reduce chlorine vapors in the shower by installing a shower filtration system.
Visit our website and schedule an appointment today for any one of these services and receive a $15.00 discount. We can help you get healthy and stay healthy by removing old solder caked, leaky pipes; installing new faucets and shower heads and connecting them to filter systems for additional protection.
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When you are expanding your home with an addition you will of course need to have the new or enlarged room heated and air conditioned. Many contractors will install flex duct for this purpose. There are concerns about the use of flex duct though - and not just in building additions.
Sometimes when a heating system is replaced or central air conditioning is added to a home the contractor will install flex duct to make the job go faster - but at what cost after they leave. The duct work can be a detriment to efficiency if not installed properly.
There was even an article on the subject of banning flex duct all together a while back at the Green Building Advisor website. The author of that article, Allison Bailes III, has backed off of that stance and does have some tips on what to look for when it comes to properly installed flex duct.
If you have this type of duct work you can inspect it and you should look for these warning signs.
- Is the inner liner pulled tight? Is it fastened with plastic tie wrap or a metal clamp? If it isn’t the energy efficiency of the system can be greatly compromised.
- Are there any severe angles around bends? It should be at an angle no more that the diameter of the duct. Basically you can check this way - If a piece of the duct can fit inside the angle of the bend you are okay.
- Check for sagging. The ducts should be held by straps at least 1.5 inches wide and at four foot intervals.
Our experienced Lorain County HVAC contractors can inspect any ductwork, flex or hard, and make improvements that may save you money. Let us inspect this important part of your comfort system for leaks and other potential problems - it will reduce your utility bill while keeping you comfortable at the same time.
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The Federal Government has extended the tax deductions that commercial building owners may apply for if they have improved their buildings’ energy efficiency. If a commercial building owner has installed more efficient lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation equipment, hot water heaters or made improvements to the building envelope they may qualify for a tax deduction. These deductions have been available since 2005 and were just extended through the end of 2013 in January.
There are two different deductions that may be qualified for but there are some parameters that have to be met. If you have a new building just constructed or older building that has been retrofitted to make it more efficient you can check this link for more information. There is a certain amount of energy efficiency that a building must attain and the IRS has software that must be used to calculate the energy savings.
The building in question must exceed the minimum ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001 for total energy and power cost by 50% to get the owner a $1.80 per square foot deduction. A building owner that has made improvements that reach a certain level, which will make it possible to reach the 50% guideline with some additional work may qualify for a $.60 tax deduction for the work completed.
Our experienced HVAC contractors have many highly efficient systems available that will make achieving these goals possible and a heater or air conditioning performance check can be a great place to start. A comfort system performance check will improve the current unit’s efficiency and our inspection report can supply data that you can use to compare it with a new Energy Star rated HVAC system we have available. If you schedule an appointment online you can save $15.00 on the cost of this valuable service and begin saving money on your heating and cooling bill today.
The ventilation of the average home was simple enough before the oil crisis of the seventies. You need some fresh air to breathe but letting in that fresh air has started to get expensive. The seventies saw the beginning of the battle that still goes on today - improving the building envelope as best you can and keeping windows and doors closed tight. Insulation, caulk and weather stripping are the weapons of choice in this battle, but when it comes to ventilation these tools have some drawbacks.
The Green Building Advisor looked at super insulated homes recently and examined the need for better ventilation. The experts there revealed a few practical findings we’d like to share.
First, if you want the most effective way to both ventilate your home and lose as little heat as possible you will want an HRV (heat recovery ventilator). These systems take air in that it is heated by the warmer air the ventilator is sending out. An ERV (energy recovery ventilator) can do this plus exchange cooler air in the summer.
The coldest areas of the country tend to see the most savings for such systems and Lorain County would certainly be on that list. The savings in heating fuel costs can be reduced though by the extra electricity that the fan in the unit requires.
In some areas it could take as many as twenty years of accumulated savings in heating costs to offset the additional electricity cost and to see a return on your initial investment of an HRV. Still many customers like the idea of getting fresher air and not seeing the heat or AC sent out by an exhaust only ventilation system and going to waste.
Wondering if one of these systems might be able to save you money or make your home more comfortable? Visit our website and schedule an appointment with one of our Lorain County HVAC technicians to discuss your air quality options today. An HRV, ERV or ventilation system could all make your home more comfortable and our HVAC experts can help you pick the best one for your unique home situation.
Now that the winter months are (almost!) gone, your thoughts should be turning toward the spring and summer. Many of your neighbors, however, may not because their utility bill is telling them that they need to do something about their heating bill right now before they get the same bad news this time next year.
Time to Schedule an Energy Audit
This is usually the time of year that energy audits get scheduled because the earlier winter months are too hectic with the holidays and January and February are the coldest months. First Energy of Ohio still has energy audit information available and there are still rebates available for installing more efficient heaters and air conditioners available. If an audit shows that your current units are getting a little too long in the tooth you could be able to save quite a bit of money by upgrading to a new heater or air conditioner.
The energy audit looks at more than heating and air conditioning. Hot water heaters, thermostats, windows, doors, insulation and lighting all are reviewed and the comprehensive analysis can lead to affordable suggestions that will save you money for years.
As highlighted in an earlier post you may want to investigate the blower door test. This test will check your insulation and the possible air leakages that are robbing you of the savings you were expecting after purchasing a more efficient comfort system or other energy efficient appliances. The government has extended some tax incentives for all of these improvements and an energy audit is still the best place to start when you want to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency.
Visit our website today and schedule a heating and air conditioning performance check to go along with your energy audit. Our Lorain County HVAC experts can upgrade your system’s performance with this check-up and give you a report on its efficiency and ways to improve it.
The blower door test is becoming more common as part of an energy audit. They also are conducted by an insulation contractor to test how much sealing still needs to be done to close off leaks in the building envelope.
The blower door depressurizes your home to show where air leakages may occur in the building envelope. It is basically a door with a large fan in it and it is placed in your doorway leading to the outside. It has adjustments that will make it airtight and then a fan pulls air through the home and a nanometer collects data on the air pressure.
The blower door can reveal some interesting air leakage in places that may surprise you. Take a look at this in a video on the Green Building Advisor, which shows a great deal of air leakage by a light switch. This switch has a gasket behind it to stop leaks but judging by the video it does a pretty poor job.
As a matter of fact, they believe the gasket approach does little in stopping these air leaks. Switches and receptacles are a pathway to non-insulated, drafty areas that allow too much leakage for a gasket to handle. There are receptacles and switches that seal these areas and if you choose these over gaskets you could save a lot more money on your heating bill.
If you re-insulate your home and pass the blower door test a new heater with a better efficiency rating will complete the job of getting the most value out of your heating fuel. Visit our website today and review all of our Carrier furnaces and their energy efficiency ratings. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our HVAC technicians who can help you decide which is Energy Star rated furnace is best for your home.
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When the World Plumbing Council started its annual celebration of World Plumbing Day a few years ago they had a simple goal. They wanted to bring awareness to the civilized world of exactly what plumbing has done for the human race.
Clean drinking water and sanitation has empowered the world to reach great heights but their availability is not something that many developing nations can boast about having in abundance, if at all. The Council has made this day both a celebration of the industry and a reminder that there are still many miles of pipe that need to be put into service all over the world. Visit the WPC website for more information on what the future may hold, even for the nations like The US andUK.
The Council held a $1,000 poster contest that children from any school can participate in. There was also a video on the site from a Professor in the British Isles that mentions that even in the UK drinking water could soon be at a premium. When you think of Britain, rainy weather usually enters your mind so we aren’t talking about a drought stricken area here. In the US, we also have signs of water stress so while your kids are working on a poster for the contest you might want to look into some “think globally, act locally” actions.
Actions You Can Take
There are easy ways that you can conserve water at home - installing low flow showerheads and fixtures and performing annual plumbing maintenance checks can all have a positive impact. Even replacing washers can help ease the stress on our water system and keep you from sending money down the drain.
If you have a bigger plumbing problem that needs attention reach out to our experienced Lorain County plumbing professionals for help. Our plumbing experts can repair any fixture or install new ones that can help you save money and help conserve our most precious natural resource.
The World Plumbing Council has designated March 11 as World Plumbing Day. That day was used to make the world mindful of the contributions that the plumbing industry has made to the health and well-being of people and the need to improve much of the world’s water delivery systems. There are many days of work left to be done improving this infrastructure, which could very well be the most valuable and necessary system in the entire world.
The World Plumbing Council states that the availability of clean drinking water and sanitation is important to each and every one of us because it leads to a better, healthier and therefore safer world. Sadly sanitation seems almost like a luxury in many places as the Council believes that over a billion people do not even have access to the drinking water they need to survive. In their announcement about the March 11 designation, the Council mentions the 2010 earthquake inHaiti and 2011 Tsunami inJapan as reminders of what can happen when these necessities are taken from us.
The effects of hurricane Sandy can bring this home to us as well. Unfortunately the flooding has led to raw sewage and other contaminates invading the water supply in those hard hit areas. In the United States we have the means to closely monitor this potentially dangerous situation to protect residents but governments in other countries may not.
We here at Raymond Plumbing and Heating are naturally interested in this event but exploring the World Council Website may pique the interest of non-professionals as well. If you suspect that you have a plumbing problem or are looking for a way to conserve water please visit our website and schedule an appointment with our experienced plumbers today. Our Lorain County plumbing experts have the skills and knowledge to make sure your water is clean and constantly available and have the tools available to help you save money and conserve water.
The winter drive that ends with opening the garage door and getting out in relative warmth is a great convenience to a Lorain County resident. Your garage can be a place that does cost you money though if it isn’t properly insulated.
Sealing up of this part of the house has another benefit as well - you can keep carbon monoxide fumes (along with that gasoline and oil smell) from getting into the house. A blog on the Energy Vanguard website brings this point home along with some advice on how to accomplish sealing up this drafty space.
One item of particular interest when you see the picture of the garage ceiling is that there is some exposed ductwork that is most likely being used to warm an upstairs bedroom. First things first - the duct should be checked for leaks. In this case, since it is flex duct, the connections should be looked at carefully. Flex duct should be held in place by straps that do not interfere with air flow and there should be no crimps in it. Some builders like the versatility of flex duct but shoehorn it into some areas, bending it needlessly, which can hurt the efficiency of your heating system.
The solution to this insulation task was to blow foam insulation into that area holding the flex duct to seal it tight. Insulation could be placed below this area and drywall placed below that using the joists to hold drywall in place and thereby sealing the entire area off.
Building envelope improvements always work to help reduce energy costs. Another simple way to reduce costs would be to improve the unit that pushes the air through those ducts. Visit our website today and schedule an appointment for a heater performance check. We are currently offering $15.00 off the cost of this valuable service and our HVAC experts can inspect your ductwork while in your home to ensure everything is properly sealed and secured.