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Posts Tagged: winter

Winter is coming. Is your furnace ready?

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Furnace, Tips to save money 3 Comments on Winter is coming. Is your furnace ready?

What is a furnace tune-up?

A furnace tune-up from Washington Energy Services offers a comprehensive, 37-point inspection of your system. Our NATE-certified (North American Technician Excellence) technician will complete the following:

  • Remove and clean flame sensor, burners, pressure port, condensate drain system
  • Inspect heat exchangers
  • Check/adjust inlet gas pressure, outlet low-fire gas pressure, hi-fire gas pressure
  • Inspect blower wheel, test blower motor capacitor
  • Record delta T, measure air static
  • Check for CO and CO2
  • Tighten all electrical connections
  • Check continuous fan switch
  • Inspect flue for corrosion/leaks
  • Replace batteries as needed in thermostat
  • Inspect condition of ductwork
  • Replace / clean filter

 

What are the benefits of a furnace tune-up?

The list above provides the specifics of the tune-up. But why should you invest in a tune-up?

  1. Prolong your furnace’s life – If your furnace is several years old, regular maintenance becomes important. Think of your furnace like the engine in your car; you use it every day and it requires regular attention to keep it running in optimal condition.
  2. Increase your system’s energy efficiency – A tune-up cleans the system and replaces the air filter making your furnace run better, making it a more efficient system.
  3. Keep your family safe – Catch potentially dangerous issues before they start, such as gas and carbon monoxide leaks or the circulation of containments.
  4. Maintain your manufacturer warranty – Most manufacturer warranties stipulate that furnaces must be regularly maintained. An annual furnace tune-up satisfies this requirement and keeps your warranty active.

 

Why is now the best time to get a furnace tune-up?

In a few short weeks the mild weather will end and our furnaces will be working double time to keep your family warm. Scheduling a tune-up now beats the early winter repair rush and ensures your furnace is ready when winter comes knocking.

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Three tips for saving money as the weather changes

Posted On: Filed Under: Windows, Heating, Ductless heat pump, Tank water heaters, Furnace, Home energy audit, Tankless water heaters, Gas fireplace, Insulation No Comments on Three tips for saving money as the weather changes

As the weather cools down, your thermostat slowly begins to creep up. Your home may start to feel a bit drafty and your hot showers get a bit longer. There is hope — here are three ways to combat higher energy bills.

Time your heat.

It’s tempting to crank that heat every time you feel a chill. But what happens when you forget to un-crank it? You get stuck in an incredibly warm home and high heating bills. A programmable thermostat allows you to “set it and forget it” and plan ahead to reap the benefits in your wallet.

Find drafts.

You might be surprised how much warm air escapes your home. Luckily, you can save as much as 10 percent on your total energy bills each year by properly sealing and insulating your home.

Here’s where to look:

  • Window seals
  • Door seals
  • Attic openings
  • Furnace flues or ducts
  • Plumbing vents
  • Recessed lights
  • Wiring holes (cable TV, electrical outlets, phone lines)

Typically a visual inspection will be enough to find an air leak. As an extra step, light a candle and hold it near the area. Does it flicker? This could be a sign of an energy-draining draft. Locating a few leaks can save you big this fall and winter.

If you’d like a more thorough review of your home, you can contact Washington Energy Services for a home energy audit — a complete inspection and report of where and how your home is losing energy and efficiency.

Think tankless.

Who doesn’t love a hot shower on a cold fall or winter morning? Unfortunately, if you’re not the first person to the bathroom, you could be in for a shower as cold as the weather outside. A tankless water heater solves this issue and can prevent costly energy bills. Tankless water heaters from Washington Energy Services are 82 – 94% energy efficient and EnergyStar qualified.

Just because the season is changing, doesn’t mean your bills need to increase. So remember to schedule your thermostat, repair drafts, and consider going tankless. But most importantly remember to savor the season with friends and family.

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Tips to prepare your home for freezing temperatures

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating No Comments on Tips to prepare your home for freezing temperatures

Plumbing tips

Leave the water running

dripping faucet

As water freezes it expands which leads to burst pipes and expensive water damage. The best protection is to ensure all lines are insulated. As a reliable fail-safe when temperatures drop below freezing, we recommend leaving one faucet on so that a drip leaves the faucet every second or so. This simple step keeps water moving and will prevent freezing from occurring.

Get an insulated hose bib

insulated hose bib cover

Ensure outdoor hoses are disconnected and install insulated hose bibs over your faucets which you can acquire at your local hardware store.

Mechanical system tips

Condensate lines for high efficiency furnaces, tankless water heaters, boilers, and heat pumps.

unthaw condensate line

One of the most common heating system failures during freezing temperatures is when a condensate line freezes and doesn’t allow water to leave the system. You can tell if your system is high efficiency if the venting material is PVC. If your furnace vents in metal then it does not condensate. During freezing temperatures, periodically check the condensate line (pictured) to ensure it is draining properly and not freezing.

If you notice that it is frozen, take a bowl of hot water and pour it over the exterior termination of condensate line. Another strategy is to use a hair dryer to warm the line. Use caution with an electric appliance around water. Heat until all ice is gone and keep an eye on it until temperatures warm up.

Check your furnace filter.

dirty furnace filter

Your system will be working hard over the next few days. Restricted airflow from dirty filters is a common failure in both freezing and non-freezing weather. If your furnace filter is dirty, change the filter immediately.

Rest assured

During these cold snaps, our service team is working around the clock to keep our homeowners warm and safe. This very high demand can lead to delays in service and long hours for our service team. These simple tips will help you keep your home safe and your family warm.

As your home partner, we hate having to charge a service call for a very preventable issue—so don’t let it happen to you!

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Enjoying wintertime energy savings

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating No Comments on Enjoying wintertime energy savings

As the temperature continues to drop, knowing how to maximize your wintertime energy savings will not only reduce your financial costs, but also improve the overall energy-efficiency, comfort, and eco-friendliness of your home. Whether you’re interested in considering a new heating system or thermostat, or are just looking for simple ways to save money and stay warm at home, there is an option that offers energy benefits for you and your family this year.

Consider a new heating system

Most furnaces are expected to last 15-20 years, while heat pumps typically last an average of 16 years. If your heating system is more than a decade old, it may be starting to struggle with providing the heating you want with efficiency and reliability. Even an old heater that is regularly serviced will be less efficient than a newer system, simply because of advances in technology that have been made since its purchase. If your heater has been experiencing problems for a while or you have called for several heating repairs in the recent past, it’s also a good indication that you may benefit from installing a new heating system altogether. Talking to Washington Energy Services about your current heating system and the benefits of replacing it can help you decide whether this solution is the right investment in your home energy savings.

Upgrade your thermostat

Even if your heating system is still relatively new, it’s also important to take a look at its control system. An outdated thermostat can hinder your furnace’s efficiency by affecting the control you have over the appliance and the heat it puts out. Upgrading an older manual thermostat to a digital programmable thermostat is a simple way to increase your home’s energy efficiency by exerting finer control over the temperature setting you choose. Using programs to heat your home only when you are present and reduce your furnace’s output while you area away is another great energy- and money-saving strategy that takes very little time and work to establish.

Schedule heating maintenance

Even if you haven’t had your heating service take a look at your HVAC system yet this year, it’s never too late to schedule a heating tune-up and cleaning. Regular maintenance is one of the best ways to extend the lifetime of your furnace and improve its heating output, reducing wasted energy caused by poor airflow and dirty or worn components. Our technicians can also make recommendations as needed to keep your heating system working as efficiently as possible, so you can continue enjoying energy savings for years to come. Regular maintenance also holds other benefits, including a lower risk of heating breakdowns that will cause stress and inconvenience during the cold winter weather. Even better, joining our Guardian Maintenance Club will keep your system running well for years to come.

If you have questions about heating your home in Seattle, we have the personalized answers and solutions you need for greater energy savings and comfort. You can find out more about us on our website, or check out our blog for more home heating tips.

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Fall for these 5 autumn maintenance tips

Posted On: Filed Under: Heating, Tankless water heaters 2 Comments on Fall for these 5 autumn maintenance tips

 

 

Keep the cold out.

Feeling a little drafty now? Just wait until winter. Drafty doors and windows not only make for uncomfortable living spaces, but they also cause unnecessary energy loss and costs. That’s why it’s crucial to conduct a window and door audit of your home and install any necessary weather stripping or caulking to keep the warmth in and the cold out. If your windows continually allow cold air in or you see condensation between panes, it’s probably time to replace them. Luckily, with 20% off all windows and doors from WES, this can be your warmest winter yet.

Get your mind in the gutter.

Fall’s beautiful red and gold leaves mean clogged gutters and a whole lot of work if left for months on end. Clean your gutters and downspouts now and regularly throughout the fall and winter. Also, consider installing gutter guards to keep this task manageable (and bearable).

Inspect your furnace.

Before you really kick your furnace into full gear, consider having it serviced by a professional. Our precision tune-ups provide a 37-point inspection that will ensure your system runs efficiently, effectively, and safely. By inspecting, testing, tightening, and cleaning, this service can also help extend the life of your furnace. If it’s time to replace it, check out furnaces from WES—they’re 20% off for a limited time.

Speaking of heat

This fall, inspect your water heater for leaks and always keep an eye out for rusty water. Pay special attention to the year in which your water heater was manufactured. If it is nearing or over ten years old—or if it’s just not performing to your needs and you’re tired of cold showers in the morning—consider replacing it with a tankless water heater from WES; they’re 20% off for a limited time. With optimum efficiency and endless hot water, it’ll ensure your winter mornings stay warm and relaxing.

Prepare your yard.

It’s time to accept it—spring and summer are over. And while we still get to enjoy the beautifully colored foliage of fall for a while longer, it’s time to prepare our yards for winter. Here are a few quick tips to get your yard in shape for the colder temperatures.

  • Remove dead annuals and mulch perennials—mulching will help prepare your yard for winter by guarding plants the cold, harsh weather.
  • Rake leaves and lawn clippings to prevent areas of your lawn from being buried under leaves and getting sun-deprived.
  • Clear out any plant debris from your garden to prevent mildew, mold, and other problems that can result from stagnation.
  • Do one last complete weeding of your lawn and garden.

Keep in mind that fall is a great time to catch up on any home improvement and maintenance tasks that may have fallen to the wayside this summer. You’ll be glad you did in mid-January when the temperature has dropped, and the cozy fire is calling your name.

Don’t forget, our cash for energy clunkers sale continues until 11/30/2015, so be sure to check out our heating and cooling systems, windows, doors, tankless water heaters, siding, generators, gas fireplace inserts, and insulation. We have the products you want at 20% off, and the energy savings you need to keep your home (and your wallet) happy.

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Simple prep list for “northwest” winter

Posted On: Filed Under: Uncategorized No Comments on Simple prep list for “northwest” winter

 

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.

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Five stylish ways to green up your holidays

Posted On: Filed Under: Home energy audit No Comments on Five stylish ways to green up your holidays

 

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

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