The Fashion of Wearing White and Labor Day

September 1st, 2014

You may have heard about the fashion faux pas of wearing white after Labor Day. In the present, this tradition is usually treated as old fashioned and a joke. Few people will criticize you for wearing white articles of clothing after the first Monday in September, or even take notice of it except to wonder why it was ever a major concern at all.

Where did this tradition of white clothing going out of fashion after Labor Day come from, and why did it fade away like colorful fabric washed in a hot load in the washing machine?

In general, white makes sense for the heat of summer. Light-colored clothing reflects away the radiant heat of the sun, instead of absorbing it the way dark colors do, so for thousands of years of human history people have preferred to wear white clothing during the hotter months.

However, the idea of white as strictly fashionable during the summer season only emerged in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—the time when the very concept of “fashion” began to spread across the Western Hemisphere.

It was only the highest level of post-Civil War society in the U.S. that strict and often bizarre rules for fashion controlled whether someone was in with the “in” crowd. Compared to our ideas of what’s fashionable today, the Czars of Style in the 1880s were true despots. Things as trivial as sleeve length could determine whether a woman in high society—no matter her level of wealth—was fashionable or a pariah.

Wearing white during the only summer, when it was common for weddings and outdoor parties, was only of these restrictive society rules. When the U.S. government made Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, the Fashion Czars gained a definite cut-off point for when wearing white was no longer “acceptable” in the upper echelons of wealthy society.

For many decades, this rule only applied to a small number of millionaire socialites in a few big cities, but in the 1950s it reached general fashion magazines that were read around the country and started to affect more people.

But time eventually broke apart this odd rule, and during the 1970s fashion became more individual. Some fashion legends, like Coco Chanel, also purposely rejected the restriction and wore white throughout the year. Today, the “no white after Labor Day rule” is little more than an amusing gag to tease friends, and almost nobody takes it seriously.

Whatever you choose to wear after Labor Day (and if it’s white, we won’t tease!), everyone here at HB Energy Solutions hopes you have a happy end of the summer and great plans for the fall!

When Should I Schedule Heating System Maintenance in Southern Vermont?

August 25th, 2014

It’s always tough to say goodbye to summer and turn toward the colder months. But a winter in Vermont can be one of the loveliest in the country, and if you properly prepare your home for the coming cold weather, there’s no reason that you can’t make the winter as joyous a season as the summer.

With summer almost finished, now is the time to start thinking about your home’s heating system. You may not need to turn on your furnace or boiler, or switch the heat pump to heating mode, for a couple of weeks yet, but you should take advantage of this cooler time to schedule your annual heating system maintenance in Southern Vermont.

HB Energy Solutions is one of your best options for heating maintenance. We install and service an enormous variety of home comfort systems, from wood-burning boilers to solar-powered heat pumps. You can rely on our expertise to make sure that your heater is ready for the coming Vermont winter.

Why you should schedule heating maintenance now

Professional maintenance for a heating system is sometimes called preventive maintenance, because one of its principle objectives is to prevent repair problems and breakdowns. You don’t want to wade into the cold season without all the proper preventive measures done for your home’s furnace, boiler, etc. A repair issue or a complete breakdown during one of the coldest days of the year is something you definitely do not want to occur! With your heating maintenance taken care of a few months ahead of the heaviest colds, you will have the best assurance possible that you won’t need to make emergency heating calls.

Another reason to take advantage of the early fall for heating maintenance is that technicians have an easier time scheduling the sessions. Between the summer heat and fall chill, HVAC companies experience a lower amount of emergency calls, and you should have no trouble arranging a convenient time for a skilled technician to come to your home and inspect and tune-up your heater.

Call us to schedule your heating maintenance today

Yearly maintenance for a heater is mandatory: it keeps the system from prematurely aging and wasting energy, and it also protects you from malfunctions. Take care of the job as soon as you can so you can scratch one more “to-do” from your fall list. Contact HB Energy Solutions today to sign up for our maintenance plan, or download the plan from our website.

Let our wide range of expertise in heating and cooling help you receive the best heating system maintenance in Southern Vermont. Call us today!

Common Repairs for Commercial Refrigerators

August 18th, 2014

If you operate a food service company, whether a restaurant, bar, bakery, or commercial kitchen, refrigeration is probably an important part of the daily routines. A commercial quality refrigerator will sometimes require repairs, and for that you will need to contact specialists with high-end equipment: this isn’t work for technicians who are only familiar with household refrigerators.

HB Energy Solutions provides commercial refrigeration services for New Hampshire. We can handle repairs and maintenance for walk-in coolers, ice machines, and refrigerators, as well as installations. We can also help update your equipment to more energy-efficient models.

Here are some of the common repairs that commercial refrigerators needs:

Door sealing/door repairs

A problem that’s common for commercial refrigerators are “sweating” doors: perspiration begins to occur along the door of the sides of the unit. This is usually the fault of insufficient sealing along the door, or a door that is shutting improperly. The cold from inside the refrigerator mingles with the warmer, moister air outside it and causes water condensation. The inside of the refrigerator will start to gain heat, leading to insufficient temperatures and spoiled food. Technicians will locate where the leaking issue is occurring on the sealing or why the door is incorrectly closing and do what is necessary to restore the heat sealing.

Compressor repairs

The heart of any refrigeration device is the compressor that circulates refrigerant through the system to absorb heat from inside the unit and exhaust it to the outside. If the compressor begins to malfunction because of bad motors, bad capacitors, or electrical issues, it will seriously impair the refrigerator’s operation and may lead to a complete breakdown. Compressor problems need to be fixed as soon as possible (pay attention to odd noises interrupting the refrigerator’s usual humming) before the compressor burns out… which will often require that the whole refrigerator be replaced.

Fixing the defrost system

Gaining heat is a problem for a refrigerator, but there is also the opposite problem of the development of frost, which can lead to freezer-burn that damages foodstuffs and liquids. The defrost system in the refrigerator is designed to prevent frost from developing along the evaporator coil. Problems with the defrost timer and defrost heater will need professional repairs before frost build-up threatens the inside of the refrigerator. Frost will usually start to develop along the back wall of the interior first, so if you notice a layer of ice on the rear wall of your refrigerator, call for repairs right away.

Make sure that you contact quality commercial repair specialists: you can’t have just anyone with some refrigeration experience come in and take care of this job.

HB Energy Solutions offers refrigeration services for New Hampshire and Southern Vermont that will handle all of your needs. You can trust to our 22 years of experience.

Air Conditioning Guide: What Is Refrigerant?

August 11th, 2014

The modern air conditioner requires numerous components to make it work: blowers, motors, a compressor, coils. But all of these together would create nothing more than an oversized fan if not for the presence of refrigerant running through the lines of the air conditioner. Refrigerant is the life-blood of an AC necessary for the process of heat exchange that cools down the inside of a building.

Like all the parts of an air conditioner, refrigerant is something that must remain in the hands of professionals. If you encounter a loss of refrigerant in your AC, call for experts to handle the problem.

HB Energy Solutions has 24-hour service in Southern Vermont from air conditioning specialists who will take care of whatever is amiss with your cooling system. Call us today. 

The details of refrigerant

Refrigerant is a chemical blend that can easily shift from liquid to gaseous state and back again. Refrigerant begins in an air conditioner’s compressor, where the action of the compressor changes it into a high-pressure, high temperature gas. The refrigerant then travels to the outdoor coil, where it releases heat to the outside through condensation. It then moves to the inside cabinet, passing through an expansion valve that lowers its pressure and further reduces it temperature so that it shifts back into liquid form. The cooled refrigerant then moves through the indoor coil, where it absorbs heat through evaporation, cooling down the air. The refrigerant finally returns to the compressor to begin the cycle over.

Today, the refrigerant found in most home air conditioning systems is a blend called R-410A, a non-ozone depleting chemical mixture designed to replace an earlier blend, R-22. There have been many different types of refrigerants over the years. The earliest were toxic, combustible, or acidic, and it wasn’t until the invention of the first safe refrigerant, which was given the trademarked name “Freon,” that air conditioners started to enter use in homes. Continual advances in the production of refrigerant have resulted in increased air conditioner efficiency.

Refrigerant loss

During the heat exchange cycle of condensation-evaporation, refrigerant does not dissipate. It remains at the same level—called its “charge”—throughout the air conditioner’s life, unless a leak occurs. Leaking refrigerant will threaten an AC’s ability to cool and could lead to damage to the compressor due to overheating.

Should you notice a drop in cooling, ice appearing along the indoor coil, or strange hissing sounds from your AC, the system may be losing refrigerant. You will need professionals to locate the leak, seal it, and then recharge the system with the proper blend of refrigerant.

Call HB Energy Solutions for assistance with your air conditioning in Southern Vermont if you think you have a refrigerant leak. You can count on our 22 years in the business of making homes comfortable.

The Different Types of Solar Hot Water Systems

August 4th, 2014

When it comes to making a transition to using clean, renewable solar energy for your home, one of the best places to start is with a solar hot water system. Compared to other solar installations, solar water heaters are relatively inexpensive, quick to install, and take up little space. They make an excellent introduction to the advantages of using the power of the sun as a substitute for more expensive forms of energy.

Solar hot water systems for New Hampshire do not come in “one size fits all” configurations. There are different models and ways they use the Sun to heat water. The two main types are passive and active water heaters; there is also the option for direct systems. To find out which of these is the better installation for your home, call the solar professionals at HB Energy Solutions. We specialize in helping people find new ways to power their homes.

The basics of solar water heaters

Passive and active solar water heaters share many elements in common. They use a solar collector installed on the roof a home that absorbs energy from the sun. Inside the solar collector are tubes that hold refrigerant which collects the heat from the sun. The refrigerant then travels down to a water tank, where a heat exchanger moves the heat absorbed by the refrigerant to the water in the tank. (The water tank can also have a gas or electric heating system attached as a back-up should the solar collector not gather enough heat.)

Passive water heaters

A passive system does not use a pump to circulate the refrigerant from the collector plate and down into the heat exchanger, but instead relies on the convection current from the heated refrigerant itself. These systems are a less expensive option and require almost no maintenance because of the lack of moving parts. However, they are less efficient than active systems, and they must have protection from freezing during a New Hampshire winter.

Active water heaters

An active system uses pumps to circulate the refrigerant through the heat exchanger in the tank. These systems are much more efficient than passive systems and allow for more design freedom since the tank can be located farther away from the collector. Electronic controllers allow a homeowner more ways to adjust the system. Active systems do cost more than passive systems, however.

Direct water heaters

These solar hot water systes heaters do not use refrigerant or a heat exchanger. Instead they heat water directly using the solar collector. They are at risk of freezing and during hot weather can overheat, so they must be installed with caution—although they can potentially work in cold climate thanks to the development of freeze-tolerant solar collectors.

We highly recommend installing one of these solar hot water systems in New Hampshire for your home. The savings are immense: essentially, you receive free energy for your hot water.

Have the professionals at HB Energy Solutions recommend an ideal water heater model and then install it so it gives you excellent, worry-free performance.

The Common Tools Used in Professional Leak Detection

July 28th, 2014

Leaks are among the most common problems that can afflict a home’s plumbing. Despite their frequency, leaks are also notoriously difficult to locate, especially smaller ones hidden behind drywall and floorboards, or leaks that occur under concrete foundation slabs. Once you start to notice signs of leaks happening in your home—such as high water bills, mold and mildew growth, or water damage appearing on walls and floorboards—you must contact professional plumbers to perform leak detection in order to pinpoint the leaking and fix it with the least amount of disruption to your home.

Leak detection is a specialized skill that requires equipment available only to professional plumbers. Below are some of the devices that our plumbers at HB Energy Solutions use for leak detection in Southern Vermont homes. Call us any time of the day or night when you need work for household leaks.

The basic leak detection tools

  • Acoustic devices: Sound is one of the ways that plumbers locate leaks through building material. The escaping water makes a distinctive noise which plumbers can locate using listening discs or ground microphones. The discos work very similar to medical stethoscopes, and can locate leaking acoustically even through thick concrete slabs. The plumbers will first use visual clue to narrow down the search area, and the use the acoustic equipment to determine the more exact location of the problem.
  • Pressure and heat sensors: A more advanced set of tools are pressure- and heat-sensing devices. Water escaping from leaks causes increases in pressure around the pipe and also temperature changes. These electronic sensors can locate these areas.
  • Video inspection equipment: The most precise way to locate leaks—and also the best way to find out how to fix them—is with video inspection equipment. These devices consist of flexible fiber-optic cables with digital cameras and LED lights mounted at the ends. Plumbers send these cameras down through pipes and watch a video feed on monitors to spot where leaking is occurring. The plumbers will also know the size and nature of the leaks, which will help the repair work go faster.

Not only is leak detection equipment too expensive for consumer use, but it requires years of training to operate properly and interpret the results. Make sure that you put your trust in professional plumbers when you need leak detection in Southern Vermont for your home’s plumbing.

For professional leak detection services in Southern Vermont call on HB Energy Solutions, and we will put our more than 20 years of experience to work for you.

How Do Solar Water Heaters Work?

July 21st, 2014

Solar energy is a rapidly expanding field that offers the potential to use a renewable and clean source of power to run every appliance inside a home. But if you feel a bit intimidated at the prospect of an immense overhaul of your house and power system to accommodate solar power, you can always start smaller and build from there. A good place to start: installing a solar water heater.

As we’ll explain, solar water heaters are simple devices that do not require large-scale installation jobs or immense upfront costs. If you schedule an appointment with HB Energy Solutions, we can show you how easy it is to fit homes in New Hampshire with solar water heaters… and we think you’ll find the prospect of using the free energy of the sun so enticing that you’ll want to expand solar power to more of your daily life.

Solar water heaters: the basics

As with most solar-powered systems, solar water heaters use a solar collector mounted on the roof that picks up the radiant energy of the sun. With active solar water heat systems, a pump moves water or a heat transfer fluid through the collector where it gains the sun’s heat.

Active solar water heaters come in two types: direct circulation systems and indirect circulation systems. In general, we recommend the indirect systems for installation in New Hampshire because direct circulation systems can have difficulty in sub-zero temperatures.

With indirect circulation systems, the water does not circulate though the collector itself to receive heat energy. Instead, a pump sends a heat-transfer fluid through the collectors to gain energy. This fluid is designed not to freeze in low temperatures. The heated fluid then runs through a heat exchanger within a water tank, and this heats up the water stored there.

A ­passive solar water heater does not use a pump, but instead relies on the natural rise of water as it heats and the sinking of colder water. These systems are less expensive, but tend to be less efficient as well.

Rely on professional installers to determine which of the various systems listed above will provide you with the best supply of hot water at maximum efficiency.

Solar powered water heaters in New Hampshire make a fantastic gateway to the use of the power of the sun to run a home.

Our team at HB Energy Solutions is committed to helping you with sustainable options for energy that will not only help save money, but help protect the environment at the same time.

Advantages and Drawbacks of Ductless Air Conditioning

July 14th, 2014

No ducts? No problem! Ductless air conditioning systems offer a great alternative to central air conditioning, which uses the ductwork of a home in order to distribute cool air. If you need an air conditioning system, but your home or room addition makes ductwork installation difficult, the advantages of ductless air conditioning installation may outweigh the drawbacks.

The main advantage of ductless air conditioning systems is that they do not require any ducts to cool your home. Sometimes your home or room addition does not have ductwork installed, and ductwork installation may be a hassle because of the layout of your home. Also, central air conditioning systems often use more energy than is necessary because cool air can easily escape through the ducts before it reaches the rooms that need cooling. Ductless air conditioners eliminate this potential energy loss.

Ductless air conditioning systems are made up of an outdoor unit and several indoor air handlers which provide both heating and cooling. These indoor air handlers are installed in different rooms in your home, and these individual zones can be controlled via separate thermostats or with a master thermostat that controls them all. This is a great advantage for family members who have different temperature specifications. Furthermore, central air conditioners often use energy to cool unoccupied rooms. With a ductless system, you can turn off the AC in a room if nobody is using it, ultimately reducing energy costs.

One drawback of ductless air conditioning, however, is that the system itself may be more costly upfront. However, the long-term energy savings that come with owning a ductless system may offset this cost. Another drawback may be the appearance of large indoor air handlers in your home. However, these can be mounted high on the wall or suspended from the ceiling, so they may not interfere with the décor of a room at all. They also generally have a more pleasant appearance than window air conditioners.

When ducted system installation is not practical for your home, call HB Energy Solutions for ductless air conditioning installation in Southern Vermont today!

How to Factor Plumbing into Your New Construction

July 7th, 2014

When your business expands, either with additions to its current space or with a completely new building, you will have a swarm of issues to worry about, and some will receive more attention than others. One issue that deserves a great deal of your attention is the new plumbing, which is as important as hooking up the electrical power.

It can be tricky trying estimating how plumbing will integrate with the new construction work, and that’s why you should always have a company with extensive new construction plumbing in New Hampshire working with you. HB Energy Solutions is a full service energy installation company, and we handle new construction plumbing services, as well as electrical services. Contact us before you start your new business’ new construction project.

Consider these factors for plumbing in new construction

  • Are you connecting old plumbing to new plumbing? If your new construction is an addition to your current building, then the most important consideration is how to fit the new plumbing to the old, and how much of the older plumbing will also need replacement in order to accommodate the new. Part of this will involve the water heater; you will almost certainly need a new water heater installation to supply enough hot water for the expansion. Professional plumbers will help you with the planning to properly integrate older plumbing with the new installation.
  • Match the plumbing with your budget: Budget will always be on your mind when it comes to any major project for your company. When you are involved in new construction, make sure that the expenses necessary to install the plumbing will match with your allocated budget. It’s often easy to take the plumbing for granted in construction, but it is a major item to consider that can affect the layout, and mistakes in either building design or plumbing will be costly in both the short and the long term.
  • Make sure to hire the right contractors: This can be difficult, but even a company that handles light commercial plumbing work and installation will not necessarily have experience with new construction plumbing. Take the time to find a company with years of experience and a specialty in plumbing for new construction; this is the most important step you can take with the planning to factor in new plumbing, because if you make the right choice, most of your other choices will be taken care of.

We can also install the necessary electrical systems and water heaters: everything that you need to supply your new construction with the water, drainage, and power it needs. We will take into account all the factors necessary to make your light commercial construction and expansion a success.

At HB Energy Solutions, we can handle your light commercial new construction plumbing in New Hampshire, whether it’s a complete new plumbing system or gas piping. Call us today!

The Famous Painting of the Declaration of Independence Isn’t What You Think It Is

July 4th, 2014

If you grew up in the United States, you probably first saw John Trumbull’s painting of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence in an elementary schoolbook. This oil-on-canvas 12’ x 18’ painting hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most famous symbols of freedom in the country and almost every citizen can conjure it from memory.

Except… the painting isn’t of the singing of the Declaration of Independence. The actual title of the work is Declaration of Independence, and although it does portray an important moment in the history of the document that announced the Thirteen Colonies’ decision to break away from British rule, the event in the painting occurred on June 28, 1776, not July 4, 1776.

John Trumbull, a Connecticut native who fought in the Revolutionary War and whose father was the state governor, was commissioned to create the painting in 1817. He did painstaking research on the figures in the picture and also visited Independence Hall to see the actual chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. Trumbull only included 42 of the original 56 signers, because he could not find adequate likenesses for 14 or them, and added a few figures who were not present (most of whom declined to sign the actual document). In fact, the men depicted in the painting had never been present in the same room at one time.

So if the painting does not portray the singing of the Declaration of Independence, what is happening in the image? The Trumbull’s scene depicts the presentation of the draft of the declaration to the Continental Congress for editing and approval. The five-man drafting committee (John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin) is handing over their finished work, which congress would then edit carefully over the next few days before voting on it and signing it on the day that we now celebrate as the start of the United States of America.

One last, odd, fact: two of the five-man drafting committee, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on the July 4—although many years later.

Our family at HB Energy Solutions hopes that your Fourth of July (or Twenty-Eighth of June if you decided to start celebrating early) is a memorable and happy one.