All posts by Washington Energy

Can we still boast our iconic Seattle weather? Hot summer trends and 2015 forecast.

Belltown Neighborhood Cherry Blossoms
Cherry blossoms in full force a month before their average bloom date. Photo taken in the Belltown neighborhood, downtown Seattle on March 8th, 2015.

On January 26, we set a new record high temperature of 63 degrees, and have had one of the warmest winters on record. (source) What’s next in the forecast? We live in a place known for its iconic rainy weather. Should we be changing our definition of Seattle? If you look at the trends expected for this summer, it might seem so.

Number of 80 Degree Days per Year

Washington Temperature Chart

The Weather in our area is getting progressively warmer, from 20 days over 80 degrees in 2010 to 45 days over 80 last year. That’s more than double the number of hot 80 degree days!

In 2014, 61 of the 73 days between the first day of summer and Labor Day were above 75. That means 81% of the summer it was over 75 degrees!

Do you remember where you were when it was 105 degrees in 2009? It was unbearably hot, but did you know that we also hit a high of 96 in 2014 and 93 in both of the two years prior. We’re having more peak heat – up near 100, more often.

The National Weather Service predicts another above average temperature summer for us in the Northwest this year. Here’s their forecast. The darker orange in the chart below means above average heat.

Three Month Temperature Chart

While the rest of the country is blasted by cold, our warmer weather is not expected to stop any time soon. No wonder more people are choosing heat pump or air conditioning systems in our area. Washington Energy Services provides energy efficient air conditioners and heat pumps to help keep Seattle cool. For more information or special offers, click or call 800-398-4663.

 

Source: http://www.komonews.com/weather/blogs/scott/Seattle-sets-twin-records-for-warmest-February-winter-on-record-294516031.html

Are there now Federal Energy Tax Credits for 2014?

Yes! It’s true. After telling us that the federal energy tax credit days were over, the government decided in January of 2015 to allow them for some products installed in 2014. No word on 2015.

If you did some energy upgrades like high efficiency heating, cooling, insulation, windows, doors, a boiler or a tankless water heater in 2014, this free money could be for you!

Only the most energy efficient products can quality for federal tax credits. Here’s a short list, and the full details can be found at EnergyStar.gov. Contact your tax preparer or the IRS to determine your complete eligibility.

What is a federal energy tax credit? This is a credit you can take against taxes owed on your 2014 federal income tax form. The IRS previously had a restriction about how many of these credits you can take. We did not see anything published about that this year, so be sure to ask your tax preparer.

What is the amount of the 2014 tax credit? (source: energystar.gov)  

  • Windows/Doors: 10% of material cost up to $500, windows have a max of $200. Excludes installation portion of cost. Must be EnergyStar rated. (All of ours are).
  • Insulation/Sealing: 10% of material cost up to $500, excludes installation cost.

 

HVAC & Water heater system requirements to qualify:
Air Source or Ductless heat pumps $300: HSPF >= 8.5, EER >= 12.5, SEER >= 15
Central Air Conditioning $300: SEER>= 16; EER >= 13
Gas, Propane, or Oil Water Boiler $150: 95% AFUE or higher
Gas, Propane or Oil Furnace: $150: 95% AFUE or higher
Advanced Main Air Circulating Fan* $50: uses 2% or less of furnace’s total energy
Gas, Oil, Propane Water Heater $300: EF >= 0.82 OR a thermal eff. 90%.+
Electric Heat Pump Water Heater $300: EF>=2.0

 

This can be an added bonus on top of the great energy savings and comfort you can expect when you upgrade your heating, cooling, and water heating plus exterior products. If you are a Washington Energy customer, we can provide you with any product information your accountant requires for this tax credit.

*An Advanced Main Air Circulating Fan is an efficient fan, or blower motor which blows the air that your furnace heats up through the duct system. Requirements : Must use no more than 2% of the furnace’s total energy.

Teaching kids to be energy savers too

Sharing a great resource

Save Energy Eco Friendly

Kids can be energy superheroes. It doesn’t only happen in the movies; your little ones can help save a big world challenge one house, backyard, school or community at a time.

When we started to research an article on teaching children about energy saving, we discovered Energy Star Kids (the kids’ website from Energystar.gov, Department of Energy). We were so impressed by this site we thought we’d stop writing and just share the link with you.

It’s an easy-to-use and interactive site, with games, education and ideas for how kids can contribute, along with fun facts that might surprise adults too. There is also a great link for parents and teachers to get lesson plans and activity books. Perfect for Earth Day!

Click the image below to find out more!

energy star kids interactive site

If the link does not work paste this into your browser: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=kids.kids_index

Washington Energy Services provides EnergyStar products and conducts Home Performance with Energy Star home energy audits. Call 800-398-4663 for more information.

Enumclaw Home Gets New Wood Windows: Before & After Photos

Wood Clad Windows

This lovely home is tucked away in the beautiful natural surroundings that Enumclaw offers. The unique steep angles defined by the A-frame home allows the windows to be the star of the show. There are many window materials to choose from (vinyl, fiberglass) but the style and location of this home called for the rich and traditional look of earthy wood windows.
Enumclaw House

Glass Failure and Leaky Windows

See the murky glass in the windows? That’s what happens when the glass fails creating leaky windows -and a leaky bank account come energy-bill time. When windows begin to leak the moisture from outside air gets in. That can give your house a stuffy and stale feeling even when it’s a nice day outside. Advances in glass-making and glass-coating technologies mean that replacing your windows can instantly increase the comfort in your home and save you money. Plus, visually you’ll see the difference new glass can make after upgrading.

wood clad windows

window replacement in enumclaw

Hiring a Contractor

If you’re replacing your windows but also looking to change the function, add more windows, expand the size of a window etc., you can consult a window or replacement professional to get estimates on cost and work involved. Our crews never cut corners just to get windows in faster. A quality window installation is important to us so your windows will stay strong for years to come.

front

During the Project: Side by Side Photo of the Difference

In these photos you can see in real time the side by side comparison that the new windows make. On the left are the new wood glass windows with the old windows on right.

wood windows

enumclaw wood window replacment

 

More Before and After Photos

 

porch

Final After

Wood Window replacement home in enumclaw

For more information about these energy saving projects, please contact us at 800-398-4663 .

Top of Your Wish List for 2015 – What you told us!

Thanks for sharing your home energy saving wish lists with us in our recent survey. We heard from over 300 people and 85% said they had at least one energy saving project on their short list for this year.

Top Ten

And the # 1 energy saving project for 2015 is…Upgraded Windows or Doors, with 13% of you selecting that answer. Closely followed by Water heater upgrade and Efficient heating & cooling.

In order, drumroll please… your top 10 energy saving wish list projects of 2015 are:

1. Upgraded windows or doors

Energy efficient windows and doors with LowE glass do more than save on your utility bills. They enhance overall comfort, protect furniture from harmful UV rays and make the place look great.

wood door replacement

 

2. Water heater upgrade

Water heater efficiency has been steadily increasing but if you are not home, you are still wasting energy keeping water hot in the tank. A tankless water heater can save 15% of your cost to heat water and saves space too.

tankless water heater upgrade

3. Efficient heating & cooling

Twenty years ago a brand new gas furnace was 80% efficient. Today’s gas furnaces are 98% efficient, an 18% savings in energy use. Heat pumps can also dramatically lower heating costs, especially for electrically heated homes.

Bryant Thermostat for Furnace or Heat Pump

4. LED lighting

LED bulbs use 80% less energy and last 25 times longer than a standard bulb, making them the most efficient on the market. EnergyStar says changing out 15 standard bulbs for these will save up $50 per year on your electric bill.

energy efficient seattle home

5. Insulating & sealing

Leaky ducts, air leak spots and low insulation let heat flow out of the house, leaving it drafty, cold and costly to heat. Not as sexy as new windows, this improvement packs an energy saving punch.

insulation installation

6. Home energy audit

We’ve saved our customers an average of 21% on their energy costs by performing a home energy audit and then taking steps to improve their home performance. Plus it’s cool science!

audit with infrared gun

7. Solar panels

Gaining in popularity, even in cloudy Washington State, some estimates say solar can cut electric bills between 50-90%. State rebates and incentives can help payback for the upfront expense.

solar panels on seattle home

8. Rain water collection and use

Save money and energy providing rainwater to your garden. Your plants will like the fact that it’s not chlorinated and you will always have an emergency water supply too.

seattle rainwater collection

9. Water saving plumbing fixtures

Saving water is only going to get more important as the century goes on. When you replace an old high flow toilet with a new low flow one you can reduce water use by 20% and save up to $200 per year.

plumbing fixture in kitchen

10. Native plant landscaping

Native Western Washington plants require less water once they are established than non-native plants reducing water usage. Some Washington native plants:

washington state native plant landscaping

For more information about these energy saving projects, please contact us at 800-398-4663 or visit us at booth 613 at the Seattle Home Show. 

And don’t miss out on this month’s special financing offer for your window, door, water heater, heating & cooling, or insulation project. 

Source: WES Home Wish List Survey, 2015 (responses under “other” were each less than 1%).

Wish List Survey

 

Serving our Community: Washington Energy supports disabled veterans and RallyPoint/6

At Washington Energy, our mission is to enhance the quality of everyday home life for our Puget Sound neighbors.  Naturally, this includes creating more comfortable, energy efficient homes through our primary services, but also giving back to our community through our WESCare program.

Rally Point Six

RallyPoint6 Opening in Lakewood Washington

About a year ago, we got a phone call from RallyPoint/6. They were an organization starting up in Lakewood with a mission to be the largest one-stop resource center for transitioning service members, National Guard and reservists, veterans and military families in Washington State.

Plumbing Services

Volunteer Plumbing Installs

At that time, RallyPoint/6 had a problem that we could solve, so we stepped in. They needed bathrooms plumbed for their new facility and with our commitment to donate our plumbing services to help disabled veterans, this was right up our alley. Our journeyman plumbers volunteered and got the sinks and toilets there piped in, installed and running. See the project. Ever since then, we have enjoyed a great relationship with RallyPoint/6, and appreciate them bringing us opportunities where we can provide our plumbing services to deserving veterans.

Veteran Harold Roberts

Veteran Harold Roberts

One recipient was Harold Roberts. The 92-year-old Purple Heart veteran of WWII and his wife were living in a house that had no hot water for six months.  That’s way too long to be boiling water on the stove. We were glad that RallyPoint/6 found out and gave us a call. We gave him a new water heater and fixed his plumbing. We were proud to put a smile on his face.

 

 

 

We are passionate about supporting our troops and thanking those who have served.  As an extension to our community volunteer work to support veterans, Washington Energy is also actively seeking to hire veterans for various positions including installers and service technicians.  More information on employment opportunities can be found on the Washington Energy website.

At Washington Energy, we look forward to our continued support of RallyPoint/6 and our country’s veterans.

Simple Prep List for “Northwest” Winter

While the rest of the country prepares for big snow storms, here in the Northwest we need to get ready for our version of winter. Rain, wind and ice are on their way. Already this season we’ve seen power outages from downed trees, spin out auto accidents from icy roads and flooding. While those of us who live on flood prone rivers could write the book about flood prepping, even a condo in the city can experience house flooding.

ice trees over downed power lines

Thinking about disaster is never fun, and it often hits the back burner, so if time is limited just start by taking this short list of basics to the store. Stock up yourself or use it to create a great holiday gift for someone you love.

Condition Prep List
Winter Driving Chains & instructions for putting them on*
Snow shovel and ice scraper in the car
with space blanket
Check tire tread. Consider winter radials if you travel over the passes.
Have your insurance card in the car, especially if you have emergency road service coverage.
Winter Sidewalks Rock salt is environmentally safe and melts ice on driveways, sidewalks and front steps.
Flooding
(non-river)
Check gutters to clear debris and ensure they direct water away from the foundation of the house.
Clear drains, a much city flooding comes from clogged drains.
Add weather stripping to doors to prevent water from coming in under them.
Test sump pump to ensure it is working.
Seal walls in basement with waterproofing compounds.
Power Outage Consider getting a gas powered standby generator or another alternate heating source.
Stockpile wood now for fireplace/stove.
Long burning safety candles
Batteries for the flashlight.
Keep car fueled up as power outages disable gas pumps.
Trim or remove trees on your property that could fall on your house or power lines.

Safety first! Never use portable generators or barbeques in the house – they produce lethal carbon monoxide. You can’t smell it and it can kill you.

Learn more about preparing for disasters at www.ready.gov. Washington Energy is here 365 days a year to help you stay warm and dry this winter. For more information on standby generators, or for plumbing and drain cleaning, give us a call at 800-398-4663.

*Note: chains are not recommended for use on some models of all wheel drive vehicles. Consult your auto maker.

Five Stylish ways to Green Up your Holidays

tree

This is that time of year when we provide you with tips for eco-friendly, greener holidays without suggesting that you make ornaments from used fruit rinds and use grocery bags as wrapping paper. We definitely think holiday style can be had while being green. We found some new ones this year, so here are a few of our favorites for a Green Holiday 2014.

1. LED lights and solar powered light strands. If you haven’t switched over to LED holiday lights, they are now readily available and prices have come down. They use 1/10th the energy of regular mini lights and are just as bright. Take the ouch out of your holiday electric bill and switch to LED. Small lights go from $5.99 for basic strands to around $26 for big impact ones. A blah carport could become a cozy manger for your vehicle (see below and turn on your creativity)! For even more savings get solar-powered lights – eliminating your entire electrical requirement for holiday décor. (Note, the solar receiver takes AA batteries).

energy saving lights

Photo from Amazon.com

2. Your gift can be blowing in the Wind. For gift givers who are willing to spend a little more, it’s now possible to give the gift of wind energy with kits that can attach to homes. With a kit you can now mount a windmill on the peak of any home or business and get 1000 to 5000 watt capacity. There are many companies offering this online, however, we are not endorsing or representing them. We do think it’s a cool idea though. We found one company selling horizontal axis wind turbine kits in the $16,000 range.

3. Trade cut flowers for a flowering plant. We’ve mentioned live replantable Christmas trees before in the annual green holiday list, but never addressed flowers. Many people place cut flower bouquets on tables or bring them as hostess gifts. A greener way to go is to bring a flowering plant that can be replanted or kept inside as a house plant (and it’s a bonus if you’re into feng shui). Your local garden center will likely have specials on winter blooming plants and they can dress up plant pots with paper to make them festive (or you can add your own flair).

plant
difficult teen years4. Go for a classic reusable package vs paper boxes. There are many ways to package smaller gifts and baked goods that can reduce the amount of printed paper you use and add an element of style. A great one is the classic holiday tin, which is perfect for your baked goods but can really be used for any gift. These add fun to the presentation and are a gift in themselves. Some are even collectable. Tins are often available second hand at thrift shops, and are available new in stores and online.

 

5. Give reclaimed material gifts a second look. It used to be that you’d find some greeting cards or cutting boards made from “reclaimed” materials like paper, glass and metal. This has greatly expanded. Reclaimed materials are now used in everything from kitchen items, to rugs, to jewelry, even chairs. We loved the recycled gift collection at uncommongoods enough to put their link into our newsletter without them even asking. Photo from uncommongoods.com.

difficult teen years

Washington Energy Hosts Coat Drive November 17th-21st

Washington Energy Hosts Coat Drive November 17th-21st

difficult teen years

Stop in our Lynnwood Showroom to Drop Off Donations

coat drive

Washington Energy is teaming up with Clothes for Kids. Our community depends on generous donations and together we’re here to make it happen. Donations may be dropped off Monday through Friday November 17th-21st from 9am-5pm.
(3909 196th St SW Lynnwood WA)

exceeding expectations

“Washington Energy is dedicated to helping local families stay warm this winter. We appreciate the work that Clothes for Kids does in our community, and look forward to seeing everyone at the coat drive” – Craig V. Olson, VP of Operation, WES

2015 Government Changes to Water Heaters WILL Affect You

2015 Government Changes to Water Heaters WILL Affect You

 

difficult teen years

In 2015, all manufacturers of water heaters that are sold in the US must conform their equipment to new energy efficiency standards. This applies to all residential, gas, propane, and electric water heaters. Why should you care? Because water heaters as we know them won’t look the same. Here’s the who, what, how much it’s going to affect you, and what you can do right now.


Who made the new rulings?

The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) was approved by Congress and is administered by the US Department of Energy (DOE). This is the same organization that oversees the EnergyStar program. That translates to: this is serious business and a real change for all water heaters sold in the US.

What are the new water heater regulations?

Water heaters produced after April 16, 2015 must conform to new energy efficiency standards. These translate to a mandatory increase of 3% – 30% greater efficiency vs. current models. The amount varies by tank size based on formulas (click here for a chart of the 2015 standards). The larger the tank, the more the efficiency is required. The gains in efficiency are small, but given that the vast majority of homes in America have a water heater; small can add up to big savings for the environment. Check out this handy video.

How does this affect me?

If you have a tankless water heater with an efficiency rating above .82, (all that we sell are at this level), good news, your water heater already complies. However if you are in one of the hundreds of thousands of Western Washington homes, condos and apartments with a standard tank water heater – please read on!

 

In order to gain the efficiency, manufacturers will be adding additional insulation to water heater tanks. This will impact you as follows:

1. Fitting it in your house. Unlike the new light bulbs that fit in the same sockets as incandescent ones, the new tanks are not going to be the same size. While the actual dimensions of new models are not available until January, we know that tanks will be taller and wider. We guess about 2 inches wider. If you have a tight closet or a small door, you may have to relocate your water heater, or take off door jambs to bring it in. And sorry, we (or any installer) would have to charge for that if we did it. There will also be new and larger venting required for some gas water heaters.

2. Manufacturer price increase. All of the manufacturers will have to re-tool production lines, and this is expensive. Combine that with increased materials cost from adding more insulation to tanks and we anticipate retail price increases in the range of $100.

3. Custom install solutions needed. To fit some homes and apartments may require creative planning on the part of your installer. For example: If a 50 gallon tank won’t fit, a 40 gallon tank with an added mixing valve may produce the hot water you need. Fortunately our team has the experience to do that.

4. Some larger sized tanks may be discontinued. If you have a large size electric tank (66 or 80 gallon) or 75 gallon gas water heater, some of these are being discontinued. While new products may come along to replace them, the installer community has not yet seen them.

What can I do right now?

Standard water heater tanks last around 8-10 years. If you are thinking it’s time to replace or if you have an older tank located in a tight closet (hello condo & apartment dwellers!), we recommend doing it sooner than later.

Three choices for replacement

1. Upgrade to tank water heaters that already qualify at the new energy efficiency levels, (gas or propane).

2. Replace with your same tank style and size while still available.

3. Consider a move to a tankless water heater.

For gas water heaters, models are available today that meet and actually exceed the new standards. Tankless water heaters are an available option as they run on gas or propane and meet the new energy standards. We also carry super efficient standard tanks, for example, Rheem Power Damper water heaters. They are Energystar rated and exceed the new efficiency standards, saving you even more on your water heating costs. This type of water heater costs a bit more than today’s standard gas water heater, but we expect it to be closer in price to the new gas water heaters in 2015. So you can start saving energy now, at around the price you might pay next year.

Current hot water heater tank styles can still be installed after April 16, 2015 but inventory will eventually run out. Installers and suppliers are stocking the last of the available current style tanks as we know many people will want them.

Whatever the new rules bring, Washington Energy will be able to provide you with water heater choices, custom installation and competitive pricing. For a free all-inclusive quote over the phone, please call us at 800-398-4663. Group discounts are available now for condos and apartment buildings.

Shop Water Heaters

hybrid heat pump water heater