The Importance of Maintenance for Your Boiler

February 27th, 2015

It’s been a long, cold winter here in New England, and it’s not over yet, which means you are continuing to count on your boiler to provide the heat you need. It’s not unusual for your boiler to start showing signs of wear and tear at this time of year, particularly when it’s been tremendously cold, as this year has been, but there’s a great solution that can perk your boiler right up: boiler maintenance for your system in New Hampshire. “Isn’t heater maintenance just for the fall or spring?” you may ask. The answer is no, and when we have harsh winters, it’s always a good idea to schedule a mid-winter maintenance appointment. The heating professionals at HB Energy Solutions are here to assist you with all your boiler needs, so if it’s been more than 12 months since your last boiler maintenance appointment, or your boiler seems sluggish, call our experts today!

Why Maintenance Is Important

There are several reasons why scheduling maintenance for your boiler is important. The first is energy efficiency. Have you noticed that your energy bills are slowly creeping up, or that you are going through fuel much faster than you should? When a heater is worn down from use, it needs more energy to work as expected. Maintenance helps restore energy efficiency because your boiler’s parts are cleaned, adjusted and lubricated, allowing the unit to work optimally. A second reason maintenance is important is that is helps prevent repair. During a maintenance appointment, your boiler goes through a thorough inspection that allows the technician to discover any existing or developing problems and head them off before they can become big issues. A third reason to schedule maintenance is to help extend the life of your system. When your boiler stays in good working order year after year, it has far less a chance of breaking down from premature aging and excessive wear and tear.

Call Us for Maintenance Today

A professional maintenance appointment is a full tune-up for your boiler in New Hampshire, so to gain the benefits maintenance has to offer, it’s always important to hire trained professionals for the job. The heating experts at HB Energy Solutions are ready to help you maintain your boiler, so call us today!

Can a Mid-Winter Maintenance Appointment Prevent The Need For Furnace Repair Down The Road?

February 21st, 2015

It’s been a cold and extra-snowy winter here in Vermont so far, and your furnace may be feeling it. There’s no reason to wait until you need furnace repair for your southern Vermont home to find out; instead, schedule a mid-winter maintenance appointment with your HB Energy Solutions technician and get ahead of potential repairs.

How Maintenance Helps Reduce Repair

There are a few reasons why maintenance can help reduce the level of repair that your furnace may need. The first is that your technician will conduct a thorough inspection of your entire unit. This helps the technician detect any developing or existing problems with the system. If small things are found, like a loose fan belt in the blower or frayed wiring, the technician will repair these items before they can become bigger issues. Another way a mid-winter maintenance appointment can help you get ahead of repairs is the cleaning, lubrication and adjustment aspects of the appointment. Your technician will clean and remove dust and dirt build-up on components, including the burner, and lubricate all moving parts so that no issues of grinding develop. Some components can shift or loosen during regular operation, and maintenance allows the technician to see this kind of issue and re-adjust the component so that it is positioned correctly.

Other Benefits of Mid-Winter Maintenance

Not only does a maintenance appointment help prevent future repair, it also helps with the following:

  • Better energy efficiency – the cleaning, adjusting, lubrication and small repair your system receives during a maintenance appointment allows the system to work optimally, which can help increase its energy efficiency.
  • Better performance – when your system is in good working order, as it will be after a maintenance appointment, you will get better performance from it.
  • Extends life of the equipment – systems that are well-maintained are far less likely to work under stressful conditions, which helps eliminate premature aging.

If you have concerns that your furnace in southern Vermont may be heading for a repair appointment, call HB Energy Solutions today and schedule a maintenance appointment with one of our experts.

Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at HB Energy Solutions hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

What Are My Ductless Heating Options?

February 5th, 2015

Ductless systems have become a great option for many homeowners, whether seeking whole-home heating and cooling or heating and cooling for a new expansion or retrofit. We have some pretty big temperature swings in our part of New England, with summer temps reaching the low 90s and winter temps that run below zero. As such, we’ve chosen two ductless manufacturers whose products can handle our New England whether while also being durable and offering the comfort you need and want from your ductless heating in New Hampshire: Mitsubishi and Fujitsu. We’ll go into more detail about these products below, but know that the experts at HB Energy Solutions are here to help you with all your heating needs.

Mitsubishi Ductless Systems

Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating has been manufacturing heating and cooling products for over 30 years. As one of the leaders in ductless systems, the Mitsubishi brand offers a number of benefits that are specific to their brand:

  • INVERTER-driven compressor system – this compressor starts with a great deal of power to heat or cool quickly, then adjusts its speed as needed, so it operates at variable speeds. This can be a tremendous energy saver for many households
  • i-see Sensor 3D technology – this sensor detects where people are in a room and directs the heating or cooling toward them
  • Can effectively heat to temperatures of -13F and above

Fujitsu Ductless Systems

Fujitsu General has been in the heating and cooling industry for over 35 years. There are many designs to choose from with a Fujitsu system, including wall mounted, Universal floor/ceiling, floor mounted, slim duct, compact cassette, cassette and multi-systems. Some features of the Fujitsu systems are:

  • INVERTER technology
  • Effective operation up to -15F and above
  • Base freeze prevention – certain models are equipped with a base heater that prevents the condensate from freezing

Which Is Best for You?

Each system offers great benefits of heat pumps, including great energy efficiency and long lifespan.

To determine which ductless heating system will work best for your New Hampshire home, call HB Energy Solutions today and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

How Solar Heating Benefits the Environment

January 29th, 2015

Solar heating involves the installation of solar collectors on the rooftop in order to harness the power of the sun to improve the efficiency of the home heating process. Consider how much your utilities decrease when you go out of town for a week. When you’re not relying on the utility companies for gas and electric heating, you save significantly, especially since we usually use our heating systems nearly nonstop day and night here in Southern Vermont. With solar heating, your system primarily depends on a free reliable source for energy: the sun. The sun’s rays have the power to transfer energy into your home for one specific purpose, like heating, or throughout the entire house.

Whenever you turn on your solar heating system, you’re not only saving money; you’re helping the environment as well. A solar heating system reduces your carbon footprint significantly, especially if you convert from an older standing pilot furnace. Standing pilot furnaces are no longer commonly manufactured, but they remain in some homes because their lifespan can be lengthy. Whereas today’s pilot lights operate on electronic ignition, turning on only when needed, standing pilots remained lit throughout the day, resulting in a lot of standby energy loss.

Replacing a standing pilot furnace with a solar energy system helps the environment in substantial ways, cutting down the amount of fossil fuels you use each year, reducing CO2 emissions that affect the environment. In fact, replacing any type of heating system with a solar-powered unit, from an electronic ignition gas furnace to a heat pump to an electric furnace can help to reduce your environmental impact. Any system that runs on gas, electricity, or any combination of the two contributes to greenhouse gases that pollute the air.

How It Works

Solar heating systems use solar collectors to collect thermal energy from the sun. A liquid such as water or antifreeze flows between the solar panels and a storage tank or heat exchanger. Storing the heated liquid for later is more efficient, but either system may need a backup for use when solar energy isn’t available.

Call HB Energy Solutions, we have installed solar heating systems in Southern Vermont for years, and strive to provide customers with excellent service for years to come.

How Can I Make Sure New Gas Piping Installation Is Handled Safely?

January 15th, 2015

While appliances that use natural gas to operate were once considered a health and safety risk, today’s gas-powered systems are safer than ever. Most gas appliances contain plenty of safety features that help to prevent gas from leaking into your home. Today, people do not have to worry as they once did about a pilot light going out and leaving the gas running. In current standing gas pilot heating systems, a flame sensor detects there us a safety hazard and shuts off the unit immediately. Other modern gas burners only ignite when needed, with plenty of safety components to prevent any hazards that may prevent gases from venting as well.

But, as with anything that uses natural gas, there is an unfortunate risk of a gas leak, particularly if an appliance is poorly installed. And if the gas pipes themselves are not installed as they should be, the risk of a leak is high. You may need new gas piping installation for a new home, an extension, or for a major renovation. Similarly, you may need new gas pipes if you’ve decided to remodel a room like the kitchen, and you need to extend gas pipes to accommodate a new oven.

Whatever your gas piping needs, you need a professional, even for the smallest of installations. The only sure way to verify that your new gas pipe is installed as safely as possible is by choosing an expert that is trained and certified to deal with a natural gas line. A professional will check all of the connections and should be able to spot any potential damage with ease. Trained technicians can also check your entire piping system if desired.

Gas leaks are a serious issue for a couple of reasons. A natural gas leak can have very serious health effects, and it’s highly flammable. Never attempt to repair a gas appliance or a gas pipe on your own and evacuate the home as soon as you suspect a leak.

The technicians at HB Energy Solutions have years of experience installing, maintaining, and repairing gas piping in Southern Vermont. Call us today!

Why Switch Your Electric or Gas Meter to a SmartMeter?

January 8th, 2015

Have you ever wished your gas or electric meter would provide more information than just a tally of your usage? With a SmartMeter, you can get more. SmartMeters are being used around the country by individuals and businesses alike to help track and monitor energy usage in order to help reduce overall energy usage and costs. SmartMeters are not like simple utility meters; they can both output and receive data, making them somewhat complex devices; this is why it’s important to hire an electrical expert in New Hampshire for installation. The trained specialists at HB Energy Solutions are ready to help you install a SmartMeter, so call us today!

What Is a SmartMeter?

A SmartMeter is a metering system that collects electric and natural gas usage information for your home or business. SmartMeters collect residential electrical usage on an hourly basis and business electrical usage every 15 minutes; natural gas usage is collected daily. SmartMeters have two-way communication with your electrical grid; they can also transmit data over a secure wireless network so that you can see your energy usage first-hand.

What Are the Benefits of a SmartMeter?

  • Easy-to-read digital display (for electric meters)
  • Track energy usage hourly, daily, weekly or monthly
  • Sends notification via email, text or phone when your energy usage is higher than normal
  • Can be used for residential or commercial properties

Why Consider a SmartMeter?

The main reason to consider a SmartMeter is to reduce your overall energy usage. This can help you save money, whether for your home or business. Second, reducing your energy usage is good for the environment and your carbon footprint. Future applications for the SmartMeter will include pinpointing power outages.

If you’ve been looking for a way to track, monitor and reduce your energy usage, it may be time to consider the installation of a SmartMeter for your home or business.

Contact HB Energy Solutions and schedule an appointment with one of our electrical installation experts in New Hampshire.

Is a Heat Pump Ideal for Heating in Southern Vermont?

January 2nd, 2015

Heat pumps are a really great option for any homeowner looking for a safe and efficient home heating system. There are some climates that merit specific considerations, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Right now, let’s take a look at how a heat pump works, and why you would want to install one.

Heat Pump Operation

In order to understand how a heat pump works, you have to understand the different parts that make up the system. There are two primary parts that make up a heat pump, the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. The two units are connected by a conduit, which contains power and refrigerant line. The refrigerant line runs to a coil installed in each unit, before running out of it again and back to the other unit.

When the heat is turned on, the coil in the outdoor unit begins to evaporate refrigerant. The now-gaseous refrigerant acts as a heat sink, drawing thermal energy out of the surrounding air and into the coil. The refrigerant gas then travels back down the line to the indoor unit, where it is condensed back into a liquid. This releases the thermal energy, which is used to heat the home.

Why Install a Heat Pump?

As previously mentioned, heat pumps are both safe and extremely energy efficient. They are not combustion-based systems, which means they don’t burn fuel to generate heat. Instead, they operate entirely off of electricity to move heat from outside inside. This saves energy because the heat pump doesn’t burn any sort of fuel during operation. For the same reason, the heat pump is safer than combustion-based heating systems. Combustion-based systems produce toxic byproducts, which the heat pump doesn’t have to worry about.

Now, there is something you should consider before installing a heat pump. Heat pumps rely entirely on the outside air for thermal energy. Even in cold climates, there is often enough thermal energy to keep a home comfortably heated. In extremely cold areas, however, there is much less thermal energy available for the heat pump.

If you’re concerned that a heat pump may not be able to heat your home efficiently, call HB Energy Solutions. We provide heating services throughout Southern Vermont, and will be able to recommend the best solution for you.

12 Grapes for 12 Months: An Unusual New Year’s Tradition

January 1st, 2015

Across the world, many cultures have specific traditions to celebrate the transition from the old year to the new. In the U.S. and Canada, we associate New Year’s with the ball in Times Square, kissing at the stroke of midnight, resolutions, and singing “Old Lang Syne.” But for many Spanish-speaking countries, one of the key traditions has to do with eating grapes as fast as possible.

The “twelve grapes” tradition comes from Spain, where it is called las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). To ensure good luck for the next year, people eat one green grape for each of the upcoming twelve months. However, you cannot just eat the grapes during the first day of the new year any time you feel like it. You must eat the twelve grapes starting at the first stroke of midnight on Nochevieja (“Old Night,” New Year’s Eve) as one year changes to another. And you have to keep eating: with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you about twelve seconds to consume all of them. If you can finish all dozen grapes—you can’t still be chewing on them!—before the last bell toll fades, you will have a luck-filled new year.

Where did this tradition come from? No one is certain, although it appears to be more than a century old. One story about the Twelve Lucky Grapes is that a large crop of grapes in 1909 in Alicante, Spain led to the growers seeking out a creative way to eliminate their surplus. But recent research through old newspapers shows that perhaps the tradition goes back almost thirty years earlier to the 1880s, where eating grapes was meant to mock the upper classes who were imitating the French tradition of dining on grapes and drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve.

It can be difficult to consume grapes this fast, and the lucky grapes of New Year’s Eve have seeds in them, making the job even trickier. (Seedless grapes are not common in Spain the way they are over here.) For people to manage eating all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight requires swallowing the seeds as well and only taking a single bite of each grape.

Oh, there is one more twist to the tradition: you have to be wearing red undergarments, and they have to be given to you as a gift. The origins of this part of the tradition are even more mysterious, and it’s anybody’s guess why this started.

Whether you go for the grape challenge or find another way to ring in New Year’s, all of us at HB Energy Solutions hope you have a great start to the year and a fruitful 2015.

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

December 25th, 2014

“No two snowflakes are alike.” This is a statement nearly every schoolchild has heard at least once, either while crafting unique snowflakes with a sheet of folded paper and some scissors or while learning a lesson on the science of snow. While even most scientists don’t quite understand what causes a snowflake to form such complex and beautiful columns and points and branches, one thing is for certain, the composition of snowflakes guarantees that no two will ever be identical.  However, it is possible for two snowflakes to appear to be nearly exactly alike.

A snowflake begins to form when a piece of dust catches water vapor out of the air. Water is created when two hydrogen molecules attach to an oxygen molecule. The two hydrogen molecules are angled from one another in such a way that they form a hexagonal shape when they come together during the freezing process; thus, a snowflake begins as a simple hexagonal shape or as layers of hexagons called diamond dust. The emergent properties that follow from the original hexagon are what differentiate one snowflake from another, as the humidity, the temperature in the air, and many other factors (some of which remain unclear to scientists) allow each snowflake to form in an entirely unique way with a seemingly endless variety of shapes.

However, in 1988, a scientist named Nancy Knight claimed to have located two that were the same while studying snowflakes as part of an atmospheric research project. And it appeared to be so; when put under a microscope, the emergent properties looked nearly identical. But while it is feasible that two snowflakes can appear to be exactly alike on the outside, they are never identical on an atomic level. Deuterium is an atom that appears attached to about one in every 3000 hydrogen molecules in the air. Because there are millions of atoms that make up a snowflake, the random assortment of deuterium in any two snowflakes—even in two that so very closely resemble one another—simply cannot be the same.

Here at HB Energy Solutions, we’d like to remind you to grab a cup of cocoa and relax with your family this holiday, perhaps by crafting some unique snowflake creations of your own. We wish you a very happy holiday season, from our family to yours!