All posts by Washington Energy

The Difficult Teen Years

difficult teen years

The Teen Years Can
Be Difficult

-For Your Home!

There’s nothing like being a teen, one minute
it’s a wonderful life and you are discovering
who you are, and the next day everything
seems to go wrong.

It may sound strange but the same growing pains happen to your home when it’s between 12-18 years old. While teen angst should pass, your home’s whining and stomping will only get louder. Don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do. Here’s what’s going on in your home between about 12-18 years of age and what you can do about it.

Equipment Doesn’t Last Forever

Heating, water heating, dishwashing, laundry appliances and other home components do not last forever, and they lose energy efficiency as they age. As few exceptions are: ductless heat pumps, and tankless water heaters which are expected to last 20 or more years. For the rest…

• Heating and cooling equipment including gas furnaces, natural gas fireplaces, (ducted) heat pumps and air conditioners typically last 12-15 years depending on wear and tear. All brands of heating equipment can wear through parts during this time. You may start experiencing some new noises and/or burnt smells from your gas furnace when it kicks on, and this is its way of asking for a service call.

What to do: ‘Tuning up’ heating and cooling equipment with annual professional maintenance removes build up on working parts and can prolong the life of equipment. The other thing that helps both you and your equipment breathe easier is changing your furnace filter per manufacturer recommendation. Most furnaces are on a quarterly or 6 month cycle. Eventually your equipment will become less efficient, so you may find an unexpected benefit in lower utility costs from replacing it with new high efficiency products.

• Appliances: Gas ranges and washing machines have a life expectancy of 11-15 years, and refrigerators 14-17 years, but the average lifespan of a dishwasher is only 10-13 years. (Source National Association of Realtors). Cleaning and flushing the dishwasher can prolong its life, however, there is one part of the dishwasher which may not even make it to the teen years – the hose. Dishwasher hose failure is one of the most common causes of house flooding and insurance claims. This is the water line that connects the dishwasher to the plumbing.

What to do: Replace rubber hoses on dishwashers and laundry appliances every five years or as recommended by the manufacturer. Spend a little extra for stainless steel. It’s worth it and will have a longer life. Another recommendation for older but working water appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines is to put a water leak protection device in and a leak detector pad under the equipment. This way, if these items leak, it can minimize damage (if for example you are not home) by shutting off your main water line.

htp everlast

• Water Heater: If your tank water heater makes it to the teen years, you’re ahead of the curve. Most standard tank water heaters last 8-12 years, depending on maintenance. Unless you are doing the flush maintenance religiously, sediment is building up inside your tank. As this happens, the tank produces less and less hot water in of each tankful. In addition, the heating rods inside start to rust and decay from being submerged in hot water for years. Eventually, standard tanks will start to leak. A sudden cold snap outside can push an old tank that is weak to burst from the heating demands on it.

The maintenance needed for a standard tank is a flush which homeowners can easily do themselves. If you have an older tank but it’s still working great, a water leak protection device (mentioned above) can protect the home from sudden flooding. There are now tanks which are made from stainless steel and have a limited lifetime warranty. They cost about the same as one and a half tanks. This can be a great deal if you plan to be in your house for a long time.

• Fire Extinguisher: Some sources say 10-12 years but visually inspect because it could be a lot sooner. Look for cracks on the hose or nozzle. Or take it to your local firehouse where they can check it out.

• Exterior Products: Every house is different and you may never have a problem with windows or siding, but to be safe, always keep warranty paperwork and/or ask for it when buying a house. Many warranties are transferable to new owners, which can benefit you. If you see leaky windows or cracks in siding in the teen years, it may be covered. For example, the windows we sell have either a lifetime or 20 year warranty depending on the brand.

Washington Energy can help you keep your heating and water heating equipment in top form. Call 800-398-4663 and ask for maintenance services.

Winter is Coming

With winter drawing near in the Northwest many Washington residents are preparing their homes to prevent costly damage caused by the cold, save energy and keep their home’s systems running properly. Learn how you can prepare your home for this winter and many to come!

Be prepared this year with service coupons to prepare your home for winter.
winter is coming

Prep your home for winter coupons.

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Selecting a HVAC Contractor



If you’ve decided on a new comfort system, do your research before making the investment. Your home’s comfort, safety, energy efficiency and air quality heavily depends on it. When a furnace, heat pump or air conditioner is properly installed by the right people, you reduce the risk of issues down the road.

Avoid costly mistakes and headaches by running through this checklist when interviewing a contractor.

paint siding in summer

Selecting a HVAC Contractor – An infographic by the Green Team at Washington Energy

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Home Performance – What is it and why does it matter?



The concept of Home Performance has been going mainstream as more people become aware of green building and look to retrofit their homes for greater energy efficiency and comfort.


When we say home performance, we are talking about looking at the home as a system of interconnected airflows, structures and equipment that make up a whole. This sounds more complicated than it is. So to explain it in an easier way than we ever could on paper, we’ve got a short video series for you. We did a whole home remodel in Edmonds, WA this fall, using home performance as the basis for the decisions. In this brief 5 part series you will see the basics of home performance and see a home energy audit in action. (Don’t worry, it’s entertaining and not overly technical). After Video 1, look for Videos 2-5 to see the audit and how the house turned out!





As you saw in the video, the way to learn about your home’s performance is through a home energy audit. A home energy audit, as distinguished from a visual inspection, uses technology, such as a blower door pressure test and infra-red camera, to test the home. Your home is then compared to regional and national standards for air leakage, air quality, safety, energy efficiency and utility costs, and we model the home’s relative “performance”. The auditor provides a detailed report with a prioritized list of ways you can save energy and make your home more comfy. Washington Energy is proud to provide comprehensive home energy audits. Our BPI certified auditors have the best training in the industry and are ready to do an audit at your home. Contact us at 800-398-4663 to set up your home energy audit today. Special pricing is available now of $199 (regular $399).

5 Home Projects To Only Do During Warm Summer Weather

It’s still summer and a great time for tips on home improvements that are best to do in warm weather.

paint siding in summer

1. Paint the outside of your house. 

House painters tell us that painting is optimally done during a prolonged period of dry weather and in temps between 40 and 85 degrees. Dry wood absorbs paint better. But it’s a balancing act, if it’s too hot the paint can dry too fast and leave brush marks or the consistency of the paint can change. Same goes for the inside of your house. If you have an older home without wall insulation, you may find that in the winter, exterior walls conduct the cold and damp from the outside. This can impact your paint drying and color. So open the windows and roll now.











2. Caulking windows and doors.

Caulking is a great way to prevent drafts and save energy. Most people don’t think of caulking until fall comes, but summer is the best time to caulk. On the package of regular caulk is the manufacturer’s recommended temperature for use. This is typically between 40 – 80 degrees, plus dry weather for at least 2-3 days afterwards. This combination will encourage the caulk to harden properly and stick where you put it. Doing it in the rain can cause it to crack or even wash away if it doesn’t set first. There are high and low temperature specialty caulks and silicones available, but we’re referring to the most common kind.  It’s also a good time to replace windows, but that can be done at any time of year in the Northwest, rain or shine.

caulking windows in seattle

tacoma home and garden

3. Summer pruning of shrubs.

Not all plants are alike and pruning recommendations depend on several factors including the plant’s blooming season. According to SavvyGardener.com, “pruning at different seasons triggers different responses.” Better Homes & Gardens says to prune spring bloomers such as lilac, forsythia and rhododendron in late spring after they finish blooming.” By now they are busy building up buds for next time, so pruning them will reduce their output next year. Summer bloomers should be “pruned in early spring prior to bud set, or in summer immediately following flowering.”

Foliage shrubs like Japanese maples and evergreens can be pruned in both summer and spring. Importantly for summer bloomers and shrubs, pruning in the fall causes a rush of new growth and the tender new shoots may get hit by frost, causing damage to the plant.

4. Roof repair or installation.

Summer is the peak season for roofing and there are important reasons why. Many roofing materials require an outdoor temp of at least 40 degrees, especially the adhesives and underlayment.

roof repair in Edmonds

tankless water heater

5. Off season home upgrades.

This is the off season for several home product categories and contractors may be having better discounts and better availability to do the work. According to Home Advisor, “it’s a good idea when you can have your project take place a month or two before or after everyone else”. (Siding in January? You bet you can get a good deal and contractor attention.)  Right now, a great off season opportunity is replacing your water heater, particularly if you are considering a tankless water heater which has a longer installation. Water heater failures are at their highest when it is at or near freezing in the winter, so that’s when contractors are their busiest. Another similar opportunity is maintaining heating equipment, for example, getting furnace or heat pump maintenance before fall. Once heating season starts, contractor availability is tighter and furnace breakdowns start. These early bird options ensure a smooth transition to winter.




Washington Energy Services provides tailored home comfort and energy saving solutions for all seasons. Call us today at 800-398-4663 for your furnace maintenance, new water heater or other home products.

 

 

 

 

Home Upgrades: Before & After Door Transformations

We absolutely love the look and feel of new doors in a home. This home in Edmonds, Washington received a complete door makeover, along with many other upgrades, from a first impression-making front door to the functionality benefits of french doors.

The benefits of upgrading to new doors is not only for looks. Today, doors are made of premium materials that are energy efficient and won’t warp like old wood doors.

French Doors

french doors
french doors

The old aluminum single pane sliding doors were replaced with 2 sets of new french patio doors. The wall to the left was knocked down where there was a second slider door on the other side. (as shown below) These beautiful doors were manufactured from start to finish in the Northwest for Northwest homes.

Fun fact: French doors are technically a window meaning this “door” was made from our vinyl windows selection.

French doors are a great solution for an entrance onto a deck. The wide opening allows you to open up the space between your home and the outdoors to accommodate more people for summer BBQ’s and become a master host.

french doors onto deck


 

Front Doors

edmonds front door

fujitsu seattle

This Codel front door adds curb appeal with it’s exquisite glass design and side panel. Plus the fiberglass door won’t crack, rot or warp like the old wood door. (Installed by Washington Energy Services)


 

Interior Doors

seattle interior door
interior doors

The new interior doors are a Lynden product made by using the Trimtek system to ensure a superior installation with no sloppy nail holes. (Installed by Washington Energy Services)

Washington Energy Services provides tailored home comfort and energy saving solutions for all seasons. Call us today at 800-398-4663 for your doors, windows or other home products.

Top Home Trends of 2014

The sun is out and it’s home project season in the Northwest. If you’re looking for inspiration, we have researched the 2014 top trends in home improvement.

colorful comfortable home

1. Big color, lots of it.

According to Realtor.com, in 2014, bright colors “will be more of a focal point”, and “designers will start featuring vibrant accent walls, main paint colors and flooring” bringing color throughout the house.
We liked this trend and put a green wall in our offices which brightens things up for our employees.

Washington Energy Services offices displaying their values. Location: Lynnwood, Washington
colorful washington energy services office

2. Retrofit your home for comfort.

install a heat pump

In Seattle, our customers start with an expectation that the heating, cooling, windows or siding products we present them with will be energy efficient, but will they also improve personal comfort? A good example of accomplishing both goals is upgrading to a heat pump (ducted or ductless). Popular elsewhere in the US for many years, heat pumps are a recent energy saving trend in the Northwest. They provide efficient heating plus a comfort bonus of air conditioning, which we do seem to need lately.

home energy audits

Another trend we see is people requesting air sealing, which reduces unwanted drafts in the home, saving energy and keeping temps even. A great way to learn how to cost effectively improve your comfort is with a home energy audit. Audits are not just for energy saving!

3. Redesign outdoor living spaces and incorporate sustainable garden practices.

Okay, one benefit of the climate getting warmer is the potential for more barbeque days outside. It has also led to an increase in water conservation measures across the western US. While we don’t have water shortages here, we at Washington Energy believe in sustainability every day, not just when asked. Taking a thoughtful approach to what you plant and where, can save water, reduce your bills and still give you a beautiful look. Easy ways to start are incorporating native plants and using water conserving mulch, and any garden center can provide great information for your particular application. If you would like to learn more about sustainable gardening visit Built Green (www.builtgreen.net) or check out WSU for some interesting information on this topic. One great idea they discuss is creating hydrozones, where plants with similar water needs are grouped together. Extension.org – Planning and Design of Water Conservation

sustainable garden practices

4. Enjoy your garden longer by canning or pickling it.

This “#1 Food trend of 2011”, according to the Food Channel, is still hot, and we mean ‘hot’ as in spicier than ever. Pickles are the ‘artisanal’ treat you can easily make at home. It makes the time, effort and water spent growing veggies in a small plot more rewarding as you’ll enjoy them year round. Beyond the simple cucumber, pickled delights include asparagus, kohlrabi, fennel, beets, mushrooms, and peppers, many made in hot and spicy varieties. A favorite of ours is pickled hatch chili peppers from New Mexico. For the more adventurous, this could become a small business. You’ll need pickling spice, salt, jars, a large pot to boil water and put the jars in (a lobster pot is a good size), and you’ll definitely benefit from buying a simple kit that has rubber coated tongs and a basket for getting the jars into and out of the hot water, plus instructions for safe canning. Canning equipment and jars are sold in year round in stores like Fred Meyer, and during the fall season you’ll find them in most supermarkets too.

sustainable business practices

5. Kitchen remodels are back.

According to Angies list, “2014 homeowners are most interested in making strategic improvements to boost functionality, increase efficiency and take advantage of existing space.”  They cite some of the most popular changes in kitchens including opening up the kitchen by removing a wall or partial wall to give a greater feeling of space and to create an island area for comfortable entertaining. Other popular kitchen upgrades include hardwood floors, bamboo floors, and hidden cabinets that recess into the walls. Adding sliding patio doors to provide new ways to connect the kitchen to your outdoor living space can transform the usability of your space.

kitchen remodel

Homeowners are also expecting their kitchens to be wired for today’s electronics, such as charging stations or outlets inside cabinets for a clean look. Kitchen color trends are opposite the rest of the house. White, grey and neutrals are popular including white appliances. For more on kitchen design trends check out this article by. HGTV Top 17 Kitchen Ideas

We hope you found some inspiration for your summer home project in this list. For improved home comfort and energy upgrades, call Washington Energy at 800-398-4663.

Heat Pumps vs. AC Infographic

We’ve done it!

Washington Energy Services has answered the #1 HVAC question asked by our customers:

What are the differences between a heat pump and air conditioner?

Heat Pumps or AC Systems Infographic

Heat Pump vs AC’s – An infographic by the Green Team at Washington Energy

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Things to Know When Adding Air Conditioning to Your Home

Tips for Avoiding Uneven Cooling with AC

“Why is the upstairs not as cool as the downstairs and what can we do to even it out?“ This has become a popular question as Seattle is having more 80 degree days, and adding air conditioning is getting more common. We custom install AC systems throughout the Puget Sound and have tips to maximize your overall cooling comfort.

Your House was Built for Heating

Northwest houses, even ones built recently, are built with ductwork that supports efficient heating, not cooling. (Many older homes weren’t built with enough ducts even for the heating.) The majority of Northwest homes don’t have sufficient airflow in upper floors of the house for effective cooling. Our ducts aren’t large enough and they are in the wrong spots. It takes a lot of cool air to overcome the heat gain on higher floors. Case in point, your registers are most likely in the floor, because hot air rises through the room. But cold air sinks! So that cold air is fighting gravity to get to you. In southern US homes, where cooling is the major season, their registers are in the ceiling.

Say No to Vent Closing

Many people want to try to even out cooling between floors by shutting the registers downstairs in hope that more cool air goes upstairs. This is not a good idea and does not work. Your system was sized to fit your house based on having those registers open to provide air flow to and from the equipment. Shutting one or two in a whole house is okay, but more than that and you put undue static pressure on the equipment. Said another way, this could damage your coil and greatly shorten the life of your AC equipment. Think of it like driving your car with the parking brake on!
vent

Tips to Improve Upstairs Cooling

If you have a big remodel of your upstairs in mind, that would be the time to permanently solve this issue by adding or enlarging duct work through the walls and ceiling. Another option, especially good for larger homes, is to have two separate heating and cooling systems – one for each floor. These are expensive solutions, and if this type of remodel is not in the plan, we have more practical tips:

1. Start your AC Early in The Day

Heat rises so by the time you get
home the natural forces will make your upstairs hotter than the downstairs. Cranking the AC will start the process of cooling it down, but the upstairs will take longer because it had a chance to get hotter. Newer air conditioning systems are energy efficient, so the extra electricity used from running it on low during the day vs cranking it up when you get home, will be minimal. And you are giving it a better chance of overcoming the heat gain throughout the house.

2. Insulate your Attic and Upstairs Walls

Insulation will keep the cool air in, and proper sealing and caulking of bathroom fans, windows and balcony doors will keep heat outside. Insulation is a great year round energy saving investment and there are excellent utility rebates to help you do this affordably.

insulation seattle

3. Add a Solar Attic Fan

Adding a solar attic fan can affordably drop your upstairs a few degrees by pulling cool air upstairs and sending the hot air out of the roof. It will help to even out the temperature in a cost effective way.

attic-breeze-solar-fan

4. Add a Return Air Vent to Improve System Air Flow.

This is less expensive than new ductwork and may make a small improvement.

5. Get Good Blinds

Keep heat out. Get good blinds, particularly on the south and west sides of the house, and keep them shut during the day. Keep windows closed until evening. Remember that heat will rise, so leaving windows and blinds open downstairs will disproportionately heat the upstairs.

6. Consider a Ductless Heat Pump

For an old Craftsman house where the upstairs has little to no ducting and is too cold in the winter, and too hot in the summer, consider a ductless heat pump for the upstairs, as it will independently heat and cool that area without the need for ductwork.

pg5

Whatever you choose, Washington Energy Services is Puget Sound’s leading contractor providing tailored home comfort solutions including: energy efficient air conditioning, heat pumps, ductless split systems, insulation and solar attic fans. Are you planning to add air conditioning to your home? Contact us for a free estimate and stay cool this summer.