All posts by Washington Energy

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

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.