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Posts Tagged: furnace

Five signs it’s time to replace your furnace

Posted On: Filed Under: Furnace No Comments on Five signs it’s time to replace your furnace

Maintaining your furnace regularly can ensure your system has a long life, but, in time, efficiency and repair concerns will require the replacement of even the best-kept furnaces. Understanding when the cost of replacement exceeds the cost of an inefficient or unreliable system will help homeowners get the best value for their dollar.

In general, a good furnace typically lasts about 20 to 25 years. Great maintenance, including regular inspection by heating and cooling system experts, can extend the life of a furnace by a few years. Furnaces that have reached the end of their useful life can cause big spikes in your power bill. They can also pose a safety risk. Regardless of how old your furnace is, these warning signs are good indicators that a replacement is due:

  • Unexplained increases in power bills – If you’ve experienced a sudden spike in your power bill that you can’t attribute to increased usage, the cause may be a decrease in your furnace’s efficiency. Over time, furnaces become less efficient and eventually reach a point where they consume a much higher amount of electricity to do their job. A faulty furnace can cause your power bills to increase by 20 percent or more.
  • Unusual noises – If your furnace is prone to making popping, squeaking, or rattling noises, it is highly likely that it has some major mechanical issues and that replacement may be necessary.
  • Increased contaminants – Worn-out furnaces are often filled with dust and debris and can have a big impact on the indoor air quality of your home. Indoor air quality has been identified as a major health issue, so you want to take steps to ensure your home has clean, clear air. If you’re noticing more dust on furniture near your air vents or are having allergy or sinus issues, your furnace may be to blame.
  • Different temperatures in different areas of your home – When furnaces start to wear out, they often distribute heat differently throughout the home. If one section of your home is an ice box and the other is a sauna, a worn-out furnace is the likely culprit.
  • Escalating repair needs – If you’re calling the heating and air service just a few months after your last repair, it’s likely that your furnace is reaching the end of its useful life. In time, repair costs will outweigh the costs of getting a new unit and may even exceed them.

Fortunately for homeowners, there are a variety of options for replacing an old furnace. New, more energy efficient models are available, as are eco-friendly heat pumps. Government aid, tax credits, or utility company rebates may even be available for consumers in some circumstances.

Washington Energy Services is a family-owned business providing home energy efficiency solutions to Seattle area clients.  Founded in 1957, Washington Energy Services has generations of experience in providing heating and cooling and other energy-related services, including sales, installation, and service. A member of the Puget Sound Energy Contractor Alliance Network, Washington Energy Services has an excellent local business reputation.

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Fall weather is on the horizon… is your home ready?

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating

Rainy days and windstorms don’t have to get you down.

In fact, you may not even notice them at all. If rain and windstorms are in the forecast (as they seem to be more and more), consider installing a generator from Washington Energy. Not only will your Honeywell standby generator work hard for the long haul, it’ll also be expertly installed by trained specialists who will ensure you get the right generator for your home and budget.

Generators don’t just provide warmth and power when the weather turns bad—they deliver peace of mind. Homework gets done, dinner gets made, and nightlights stay on through the storm.

Give cold weather the cold shoulder.

Have you fired up the furnace yet this year? Did it purr like a kitten or croak like a toad? If it was the latter, act now. Fall, while chilly, is still a great time to schedule a furnace tune-up, repair, or replacement before serious winter weather sets in. This month, trade in your old furnace and receive 20% off a new energy efficient model that will keep your family comfortable season after season.

Earth, wind, and insulation.

Insulation is the unseen hero when it comes to home comfort. If you notice cold air or drafty rooms, live in an older home, or simply aren’t sure about the state or placement of your insulation, give Washington Energy a call. We’ll send out a insulation expert to conduct an inspection in your attic, crawl spaces, ducts, and interior and exterior walls. They’ll inform you of where your insulation is doing its job… and where it might need some reinforcement. Plus, all insulation is 20% off through November 30!

Home Energy Audit

Not sure where to start when it comes to counteracting cool fall weather? Consider a Home Energy Audit from Washington Energy. This in-depth audit performs testing to pinpoint where your home is losing energy—and additionally, warmth. Your dedicated Home Energy Specialist will explain the results of the audit and any recommendations so you can better understand how your home performs to make it more comfortable and lower your energy bills.

So if you’re nervous about fall or even winter weather, relax. With premier products and personalized, expert service, Washington Energy will take care of the weather, while you take care of the cider drinking, pumpkin carving, and football watching.

Contact us today for your free estimate.

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How can you benefit from a furnace upgrade?

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Furnace

An efficient home heating system will provide the level of comfort you want throughout the winter season at the lowest cost possible. If it’s nearly time for new furnace installation in your home, choosing a high-efficiency furnace product offers many clear advantages. Even if your existing furnace is in relatively good shape, it’s still important to consider its expected lifetime and the potential savings you could gain from a furnace upgrade sooner rather than later. If you have questions about upgrading your furnace and the potential advantages of this move, your Seattle-area home heating service can help.

A more comfortable home

One of the biggest advantages you’ll gain from making a furnace upgrade is a more comfortable home during the winter. A heating system that is efficient will simply perform better over the long term, keeping your home at exactly the temperature you want, even when the weather outside grows cold. Upgrading your home heating system to a more efficient solution, such as a variable speed furnace, will ensure that every area of your home is kept warm in a more even and regular manner, eliminating uncomfortable hot and cold spots and temperature swings throughout the day.

Monthly energy savings

Upgrading your furnace can offer more than just comfort—a more efficient furnace will also reduce your monthly energy costs, allowing you to save money rather than spend it on heating your home. Furnace efficiency is measured via a value called AFUE, or Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency, which calculates the amount of heating your furnace provides per unit of fuel. The higher your furnace’s AFUE, the less fuel the system wastes because more fuel is turned into heat for your home. Today, furnaces are available with extremely high AFUE ratings, allowing you to get more from each dollar you spend on home heating so you can pay less without sacrificing the indoor environment you want.

Less worry about furnace problems

Especially if your furnace is approaching the end of its expected lifetime, a furnace upgrade is a smart move that you won’t regret. The older your furnace gets, the higher the chances become that you’ll experience a problem or failure that requires professional furnace repair or even complete system replacement. If you’re already calling your heating service frequently because your furnace isn’t reliable, you can certainly benefit from the elimination of this drain on your time and mental energy. Upgrading your furnace to a newer, more reliable system with a completely clean slate in terms of maintenance and repairs will put an end to worry about whether your furnace will provide the heating you need without a service call.

 A furnace upgrade for your home can offer both short-term and long-term savings when you choose an ENERGY STAR-rated furnace with 95% AFUE that is eligible for a $250 rebate. If it’s time to invest in a high-efficiency furnace from Bryant in the Seattle, Everett, or Tacoma areas, contact us today to schedule an evaluation of your home’s current furnace system.

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Is your furnace ready for fall?

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating No Comments on Is your furnace ready for fall?

Show it a little TLC.

Fall is the perfect season to schedule a furnace service, repair, or tune-up. The coldest days of winter are not an ideal time to start thinking about this—do it now before your furnace gets kicked into high gear.

Call Washington Energy for the following furnace services:

Precision Tune-Up: This 37-point inspection ensures that your furnace will continue operating efficiently through fall, winter, and beyond. One of our expert technicians will visually inspect, test, clean, tighten and lubricate all of your system components and explain any key findings or recommendations with you. According to ENERGY STAR, regular tune-ups will extend the life of the system and keep it working efficiently.

Our Guardian Maintenance Club offers even more peace of mind with annual tune-ups, 24-hour emergency service, club discounts, and more.

Maintenance and Repair: Did your furnace just barely scrape by last year? Give it the attention it needs! Whether it’s just a bit out of sorts or has completely stopped working, call WES. We’ll perform diagnostics and repair service to get it running smoothly once again.

Get a fresh filter for fall.

Go ahead—take a look at your filter. Is it looking a little worse for the wear? Typically, a 4″ filter should be replaced every 90 days. A 5″ filter should be replaced every six months. If you can’t remember when you last changed your furnace filter, it’s time to do it again. Clean filters can help extend the life of your furnace, keep energy costs down, and maintain healthy air quality.

Want to make it really easy? Sign up for our Filter Program. You’ll get the correct furnace filter automatically shipped to your home when it’s time to change them out. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Is it time to say goodbye?

There are a few considerations to make when you’re deciding if it’s time to upgrade your furnace.

Age
If your furnace is nearing (or beyond) fifteen years old, it’s safe to assume it’s not as efficient as it once was. If you want optimum efficiency in your home, you could find it with a new furnace.

Strange Noises
This is a telltale sign of an old furnace. If yours is rattling, clanging, popping, or simply sounds like it’s working too hard, it may be time to replace it.

Dry Air and Home
Old furnaces have trouble providing moisture in the air, which can result in dry, dusty conditions. This is especially troublesome for those with allergies to dust, mold, dander, and other airborne elements.

High Energy Bills
Put simply, if the bill is high, the furnace may be the culprit. Upgrade for lower energy bills!

Fall is here. Make sure your furnace is up to the task of warming your cozy nights inside… after cool days outside.

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Are there now federal energy tax credits for 2014?

Posted On: Filed Under: Ductless heat pump, Furnace 6 Comments on Are there now federal energy tax credits for 2014?

 

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.

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What is the government up to with our furnaces

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Furnace No Comments on What is the government up to with our furnaces

You may have heard that there is national legislation that was proposed that would require all new furnaces sold in our area to be high efficiency (90%) gas furnaces. This legislation is facing some opposition, and for the right reasons – to protect you the homeowner.

For now, the industry awaits the Court’s ruling on the proposed settlement, so that the DOE can start over again on writing new standards for furnaces. However, should the Court reject the settlement the case would go to trial. At that point there are two possible outcomes. One is that the legal challenge would prevail and the rules would be officially stricken from the books. But if the rules are upheld and remain in place after a trial, then under this motion, the rules would take effect six months later.

Why would it be so bad to require a high efficiency furnace? Well, on the surface, that doesn’t sound so awful – getting a high efficiency furnace would lower your energy costs. BUT, the government didn’t think this through. Yes, the difference in cost of a high efficiency furnace would pay for itself with energy savings over the life of the product. However there are 4 huge issues that could end up costing you far more, even 2x as much for a furnace under this plan. Here are the issues. They may sound technical but we’ll explain them:

  1. Equipment space constraints.
  2. Venting requirements
  3. Condensate drainage
  4. Credit availability

The new law would require us to sell only high efficiency (90% AFUE) furnaces. They require different space, venting and drainage vs lower efficiency, non condensing, (80% AFUE) furnaces. Even today, new construction houses in our area are being designed with lower efficiency 80% furnaces.

While installing a high efficiency furnace is no problem for many homeowners, there are plenty of homes with limited space for furnaces; under staircases, in attics, and in the middle of the house footprint. The high efficiency furnace may not fit into those spaces, or have a path to vent properly. (Venting means get fresh air from the outside and send exhaust out).

We see this all the time in our business, especially with our old Seattle housing. If homeowners have no option to choose an 80% furnace replacement, this could require relocating the equipment, and finding appropriate space to vent it. You may need to redesign the ductwork or re-route the gas line and electric power. At worst case, this could require a major remodel. Or if your current furnace shares a vent with your other appliances, it may be necessary to separate them, and add new vents or line old chimneys that are being used for venting. High efficiency furnaces require a drain pipe to carry exhaust liquids (condensate drainage) to a sewer line. That can be an issue if you have a concrete basement floor without drain access. All that adds up to more cost for the homeowner, and some customers may not have access to enough credit for the larger payment. For those who can’t afford this new standard in heating, will they turn to wood burning stoves, electric space heaters and other highly polluting, non-efficient options?

Don’t get us wrong, we love being green and want everyone to get a high efficiency furnace, but we don’t want to take away options from homeowners who can’t fit one in their home or can’t afford it. If this legislation is enacted in May, we’ll be sure to post on our website all about it. We do recommend if you are thinking about replacing an 80% furnace that’s in a tight space that you consider buying a new one now. Just in case. We’re not saying that to make money off you, after all, the 90% furnace costs more. Call 800-398-4663 for a free estimate.

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You heard right… and wrong? In the energy news today

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Furnace No Comments on You heard right… and wrong? In the energy news today

Yes, Federal Energy Tax Credits are back – you heard right!

The 2011 federal energy tax credit for home energy improvements has been renewed for 2012 and 2013. Since 2011, only homeowners installing qualified alternative energy systems including solar, geothermal and wind energy products were able to get a federal tax credit. Now the extended program once again includes high efficiency heating, cooling, water heating, windows, doors and insulation, meeting EnergyStar™ requirements.

What are the tax credit criteria?

  • A lifetime limit of $500. That means if you already claimed $500 worth of credits in 2008-2011, you’ve maxed out.
  • Product meeting Energy Star requirements for energy efficiency, see below.
  • Installed in taxpayer’s existing principal residence and expected to last a minimum of 5 years.
  • You get 10% of qualified expenses, but dollar limits per product apply; click for more information on specific products.

How do you get the credit? We recommend that you check with a tax adviser or the IRS regarding your personal eligibility. You should retain documentation to establish that your equipment meets the guidelines required and that your purchase was made during the tax year you are filing for. Homeowners should save all available documentation, such as purchase receipts, ENERGY STAR labels, and manufacturers’ certification statements.

No, the government is not requiring you to buy a 90% high efficiency furnace – you heard wrong!

You may have heard ads about this issue. There was legislation that was passed which would have required customers in the Northern US (including us) to purchase only 90% + AFUE (high efficiency) furnaces, and those in the Southern US to have high efficiency air conditioning or heat pumps. This legislation has since been cancelled, and likely sent back to committee. While promoting fuel efficiency is a great thing, they didn’t think it through. Besides forcing Americans to spend more for a furnace, there were just too many logistical things they didn’t consider – such as what if a certain size only fits your house? Or what if you are buying a lower efficiency furnace in combination with a high efficiency heat pump. So it has been withdrawn.

How can you learn more?

Find out more about furnaces or the tax credit at www.washingtonenergy.com. Washington Energy Services can be reached at 800 398 4663 and we have just reopened our Energy Center showroom at 3909 196th St. SW in Lynnwood, WA, 98036. That is open 10-4 Monday through Friday. You can stop by and see the products that qualify for the tax credit and speak with one of our home energy specialists.

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Top 5 questions you asked us at the Seattle Home Show answered

Posted On: Filed Under: Ductless heat pump, Furnace, Tankless water heaters No Comments on Top 5 questions you asked us at the Seattle Home Show answered

Top 5 questions you asked us at the Seattle Home Show answered

 

  1. Is there an electric tankless water heater?
    Tankless water heaters are energy and cost efficient, and use gas or propane as a fuel source. There are electric water heaters that can produce on demand water but they are not at all energy efficient. They use lots of power and will cost you more in electricity, likely requiring an expensive upgrade to your electrical panel or wiring as well. That’s why you don’t see them around. There are “point of use” single appliance attachments that can provide endless hot water to one sink, for example. They can run off of a regular 110 volt circuit and can be suitable for Northwest homes.
  2. How can I get instant hot water in my upstairs bathroom?
    Tankless water heaters provide endless hot water, but like a standard tank, it is not instant. If your water heater is far away and you want instant hot water, consider a recirculating pump. A recirculating system can work with standard tanks. Also see prior comment about point of use water heating.
  3. How much money will a ductless heat pump system save?
    The savings vs electric baseboard or electric wall heating are substantial. According to the Ductless Heat Pump Project (Bonneville Power Authority) you can expect 25% – 50% savings from heating. Other utilities claim up to 60%. According to Snohomish PUD electric baseboard heating can cost $1500 per year.  If you saved 50% of that the system could more than pay for itself over it’s lifespan (depending on the size of your house and number of ductless splits you deploy.)
  4. How is a modulating furnace different than a regular furnace?
    Modulating gas furnaces continuously adjust their heating level by 1% increments to match the degree of comfort you need exactly and efficiently. Unlike a single stage furnace, they don’t shut off, let the house cool and then have to run hard to ramp back up again. The variable speed blower provides quiet and efficient air distribution while reducing overall utility consumption. The end result is a much more efficient and quiet furnace that gives your home a nice even heat.
  5. What is composite siding and what is special about the material?
    Composite siding is today’s version of Vinyl siding. It is custom fit with expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) that is fused to the back of the siding, which fills the gap between the home and the siding, providing insulation. Composite siding has lots of upside. It has an insulation R-value of 4.0 (compared to wood siding which has a factor of 1.0) and has been proven to reduce noise in your home by as much as 45%. Another great advantage of composite siding is it can be applied over existing siding unlike fiber cement or wood.  It comes in a variety of tasteful styles and colors, with essentially no maintenance and excellent warranties.

Washington Energy Services installs and services water heaters, furnaces and siding. Do you have more questions about energy efficient home improvement? Ask us at 800-398-4663.

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Your furnace tune-up can save lives

Posted On: Filed Under: Furnace No Comments on Your furnace tune-up can save lives

The Washington State Department of health concurs and recommends having a trained professional check your gas appliances and fireplaces annually.

Carbon monoxide, CO, can enter your home any time you have a defect in your furnace’s heat exchanger. A heat exchanger is the largest part of the furnace, usually made of aluminum or stainless steel, through which the poisonous carbon monoxide-containing exhaust fumes leave the furnace and are vented to the outside. Heat exchangers can develop holes over time or through manufacturer defect. The result is that some of the carbon monoxide will leak through these apertures and into your house. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious health risk, and over 1000 Washington residents were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from a variety of sources between 1990 and 2005.

When selecting an HVAC contractor to perform the tune-up that the EPA recommends, it is extremely important to select a company whose technicians understand how to properly inspect heat exchangers. Few companies are eager to properly inspect your heat exchanger. Mostly because it’s hard to reach. The heat exchanger sits behind all of the parts you can see, including the motors, gas valve, pressure switch, circuit board, igniter, etc, and often you cannot see it even with the front panel open. Because of this inspection, the precision tune up when done correctly is a longer appointment. For example, Washington Energy Services furnace tune up takes 45 minutes to 1 hour on a furnace where no problems are found. When problems are found, this time obviously increases.

So how do you know your technician will do a good tune up? Ask your contractor if its technicians are NATE Certified. It stands for North American Technician Excellence (www.natex.org), and it is an HVAC industry certification of quality. You can be confident that NATE Certified technicians provide the kind of precision tune ups discussed in this article.

 

To get a precision tune up for your furnace call Washington Energy Services at 1 800 398-HOME. Washington Energy Services technicians are NATE certified.

 

For more information on Carbon Monoxide poisoning, see Washington State Department of health at  www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/ts/IAQ/CO_Fact_Sheet.htm.

 

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