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.

The Advantages of Whole-House Surge Protection

June 27th, 2014

Power surges are sometimes an everyday occurrence in homes, a fact that people can find hard to believe. Because the term “power surge” comes pre-packaged with images of downed power lines, lightning strikes, and massive storms, people usually make the connection between a power surge in a home with catastrophic events.

But a power surge is any increase in voltage in an electrical system above normal that lasts for more than 3 nanoseconds. (Less than 3 nanoseconds and it’s known as a power “spike.”) This jump in power can happen because a large appliance in a home makes a sudden larger demand on the power supply, causing an imbalance that raises voltage. This may not trip circuit breakers, but it can cause damage to a home and its appliances.

When it comes to guarding your house from surges both large and small, you should invest in a whole-house surge protector installed with the help of electrical professionals. Contact HB Energy Solutions to speak to one of our staff members regarding surge protection in Southern Vermont.

Why whole-house surge protection?

We recommend that homeowners use power strips (point-of-use surge protectors) for computers, entertainment systems and other precision equipment, but not to rely on them entirely. These strips provide a level of defense against surges that shuts off the power flow to the device when an increase in voltage occurs. However, they do not provide the protection from both extreme and small surges that you will receive from a whole-house protector.

A whole-house surge protector is hard-wired into your electrical panel, where it re-routes increases in power into a home’s grounding. This makes them more effective at protecting a home than power strips that simply cut off current when surges occur. The smaller surges will make it through power strips, causing damage to computers and other appliances in amounts that will cumulatively become ruinous. Larger surges, such as those from a lightning strike, will overcome these defense and cause serious damage. A whole-house surge protector can handle both: regulating small surges and capable of handling enormous ones (except perhaps a lightning bolt striking right next to your home) without permitting damage to your property or equipment.

When it comes to shielding your home from electrical damage and defended your high-precision equipment and computer hard drives and SSDs, you can never have too much surge protection. Along with your power strips (which are also a safe way of increasing the number of outlets in your home) call an electrical contractor to wire a whole-house surge protector.

We will keep your home safe all year long, and we’re always a call away any time of the day or night.

HB Energy Solutions has 22 years of experience providing Southern Vermont with surge protection and other electrical services. Call us today to find out what we can do for your home.

3 Things to Consider When Adding Outdoor Lighting

June 20th, 2014

Since you spend most of the night inside your home and not outside it, you probably have not given much thought to your house’s exterior lighting. However, there are numerous benefits to adding on to your outdoor lighting: increased safety on walkways and patios, longer use of outdoor recreational facilities, decrease in the chance of crime, and a higher resale value on the property.

To get all of these benefits, you need to have professional electricians and installers on the job of adding to your outdoor lighting in New Hampshire.

Call HB Energy Solutions today to find out more about the ways our outdoor lighting experts can help improve your home with additional outdoor lighting.

Here are 3 things to consider for your outdoor lighting additions:

  • Add energy-efficient lights: Increasing your outdoor lighting doesn’t mean you have to exponentially increase your electricity bills. You can have energy-efficient LED lights installed as an alternative. Although LED lights costs more upfront than standard incandescent light bulbs, they can last many years more and use significantly less energy. LED lights with the U.S. ENERGY STAR label use at least 75% less energy and last 35 to 50 times longer, which means you have even more years of use to reap the savings from their reduce energy use.
  • Increase front and “guide” lights: If you have a limited budget for outdoor lighting additions, place the focus on lighting the front of the house and the paths leading to the door. The idea is to create a sense of “inviting” visitors toward the front of the house—while also keeping them safe with a well-illuminated walkway. Professional electricians will make sure that the new lighting fixtures fit well with your home’s architectural style.
  • Landscape lighting: Outdoor lighting doesn’t need to focus only on places where people move (although it’s crucial to have this to keep a home safe). Excellent landscape lighting that focuses on gardens and trees are an easy way to enhance your home’s beauty during night. Simple uplighting placed to light up trees—while pointing away from your home’s windows and the neighbors’—does marvels at making your home more appealing.

The electrical worked involved in enhancing the outdoor lighting for a home is complicated and requires technicians who not only know about correct lighting placement but also voltage demands and safety concerns. Only trust this work to experienced electricians with a background in home improvements.

HB Energy Solutions has served New Hampshire with outdoor lighting and numerous other electrical services for 22 years. Aside from our installation work for lighting, we are also available 24 hours for whatever electrical repairs your new lighting system may need.

What Does the Bend in the Pipe Below My Sink Do?

June 13th, 2014

Most of the plumbing in your home remains hidden from view. The pipes snake between the walls, under the floors, and through closed-off utility rooms. But there is one section of plumbing that you probably know well, and that’s the drainpipes located directly below your sinks. You see these any time you open up the cabinet doors to retrieve something. Every time you do this, you’ll see an oddity about this piece of piping: the odd U-shaped bend it makes before it enters the wall.

That bend in the pipe serves an important purpose, but it can also lead to plumbing troubles as well.

We have 22 years of experience serving Vermont and New Hampshire. Should you encounter trouble and need plumbing repair in Southern Vermont, call HB Energy Solutions.

The p-trap

The bend in the drainpipe that you see is called the “p-trap.” The reason for the name is that the bend makes the pipe resemble a “P” with an open back when looked at from the side. (And you thought it was going to be called a “u-pipe” or something like that.) What it traps is water: after water pours down the drain, gravity traps an amount down within the bend. As long as water runs down the drain regularly, the p-trap will remain filled.

This water plug does the important job of stopping sewer gases from decaying material further down the pipe from coming back up and escaping through the drain. Without the p-trap, sewer odors would invade your home constantly.

Should your p-trap dry up—something that happens in sinks that aren’t used for a long stretch, like one in a guest room—the empty trap will allow the sewer odors to come up. If you encounter foul smells in areas with an unused sink, run some water down the drain for a few minutes, and that should take care of the problem.

P-traps can become sources of clogs. When debris that shouldn’t go down a drain does, it will often catch in the p-trap. Over time, the p-trap will develop a congestion of soap scum, hair, and food (depending on where the sink is located) that will lead to a slow drain or clog. Too much contamination can also lead to corrosion and leaks.

For serious clogs (anything a plunger cannot handle) you must have the assistance of professional plumbers armed with motorized drain snakes and hydro-jetters. Do not attempt to take out a set of wrenches and unscrew the p-trap yourself: this risks disaster. Instead, reach for the phone and call for plumbing repair in Southern Vermont from HB Energy Solutions. We offer full plumbing services to take care of all your needs, from blocked pipes to water heater installation.

What Is Involved with Photovoltaic Installation?

June 6th, 2014

People today, especially in Vermont, are looking for paths toward clean, renewable energy that will both reduce the negative impact on the environment and also offer large savings on utility bills. Although harnessing renewable energy from sources such as the Sun and geothermal heat can cost money upfront, the work will pay back its initial costs many times over.

Solar power is one of the best known of all renewable energy sources: since the dawn of history, humans have watched the Sun in the sky, felt its heat, and sought a way to use it. Thanks to efficient photovoltaic panels, the dream of having the Sun working to power your own home is now a reality.

HB Energy Solutions is proud of the services we provide for green technology to our customers. For photovoltaic installation in Southern Vermont, call up our solar team today.

The PV installation job

Installing photovoltaic panels isn’t as difficult as you might imagine, although you will still need professionals to handle the task so that it works ideally. (Also, you don’t want to spend too much time climbing around your roof if it’s not necessary.)

Photovoltaic (PV) panels are mounted on the roof, where they change radiant heat from the sun into electrical energy. The number of panels necessary depends on how much power you require and how many systems you intend to run.

The installers plan out a configuration based on your needs. A team then lays down a support framework on the roof of the house. One by one, the PV panels are securely attached to the frame. Once the entire panel set is completed, the installers must connect the panels to the power grid and test the system to verify that it is correctly hooked up. They will check polarity, grounding, and wiring: the job isn’t over until they are certain that the system works as efficiently as it can.

Remember: the energy of the Sun is free. You will have some power requirements to run the indoor parts of the solar power system, but otherwise the electricity you receive through the PV cells costs you nothing: it should only take a few years for the solar power cells on the roof of your house to pay back their installation costs.

Talk to solar experts today

When you consult with a specialist in photovoltaic installation in Southern Vermont, you’ll find out how your home can best be set up for harnessing the free power of the sun.

At HB Energy Solutions, we not only offer solar solutions for homes, but for businesses as well—and that includes repairs and maintenance. Call us today to go green with the power of the Sun.

Use Insulation to Keep Your Home Cool

May 30th, 2014

Here in New Hampshire, insulation is often considered a winter-only feature. Our winters are as cold as they come, and naturally you want a well-insulated home to stay cozy and warm when the snows start falling. But the same principle that keeps the warm air in during the winter can keep hot air out in the summer. You can use insulation to keep your home cool, and because insulation installation is often less expensive in the summertime, now is the perfect opportunity to add more to your home. Here’s a breakdown of the principles involved.

All insulation adheres to three specific concepts: conduction (the process by which heat passes through solids), convection (the process by which heat passes through liquids and gasses) and radiation (the process by which heat passes through air or vacuum). Insulation curtails all of those process, slowing the passage of heat out of your home. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to have insulation in your attic, since warm air rises and can escape out of the roof if you don’t take steps.

But there the process isn’t just one way: moving out of your house instead of in. Just as the heat from your home can escape in the winter, so too can hot air get into your house in the summer. If you have insulation, however, that process is severely retarded, allowing your home or retain cool air just as readily as it retains hot air.

If may be that you already have as much insulation as your home can hold. But technological advances mean the newer and better form of insulation are always arriving, and even if they don’t, most homes can use another layer or two.  We operate throughout New Hampshire, insulation is one of our primary services, and we won’t rest until the job is done right. Pick up the phone and give us a call today or schedule an appointment online. You’ll be glad you did!

If you know how to use insulation to keep your home cool, then the next step is to contact HB Energy Solutions to see about installation.

Are Ductless Heat Pumps Preferable to Centralized Heat Pumps?

May 23rd, 2014

Ductless heat pumps may seem like recent innovations, but they existed in the commercial HVAC world long before making the leap over to homes. Instead of using a single indoor unit that sends conditioned air through a ventilation system, a ductless heat pump instead works through multiple indoor blower units mounted on walls that send the air directly into rooms.

If you are interested in ductless heat pump installation in New Hampshire for your home, make sure you consult with professionals to decide if this is the best choice.

Call HB Energy Solutions, where we have delivered quality heating and cooling services to New Hampshire for more than two decades.

A list of the advantages of ductless heat pumps make them sound automatically superior to any centralized heat pump:

  • No indoor air quality issues due to ducts – Because ducts can collect dust and other contamination, they will eventually affect indoor air quality and require cleaning. Ductless systems remove this hassle.
  • More freedom with construction and remodeling – If you are planning to build a new home or extensively remodel your current one, then a ductless system gives you more options because fitting ducts into planning is no longer necessary.
  • Zone control – Because ductless heat pumps work through separate blowers, you only need to heat or cool down rooms that require it, which leads to significant energy savings.

However, a ductless system is not always preferable to a standard centralized one. In some cases, you may be better off staying with a familiar ducted system. Here are some considerations that may sway you away from ductless heat pumps.

  • Your home already has ducts – Unless remodeling is on the horizon, a ductless system is usually redundant for a house that has a ventilation system.
  • A heat pump in general isn’t the best choice – Ductless systems are all heat pumps, and in some cases—such as when a home is difficult to heat—it is better to stay with the combination of an air conditioner and furnace/boiler for cooling and heating than to switch to a heat pump.
  • It isn’t cost-effective – Ductless heat pumps are more expensive to install because of the blower units than hooking up a heat pump to current ductwork. If the other positives of a ductless mini split heat pump aren’t enough to overcome this, than you may be better with a centralized system.

If you still find yourself torn between going for a ductless or a central heat pump, you can always call professional installers. They will take into account your home’s construction and your budget plans to advise you which route is the best for you.

HB Energy Solutions will help you with heat pump installation in New Hampshire, whether you end up going with a ductless system or a more traditional ducted one. Whatever heat pump you end up with, we will install it for you right the first time.