Archive for April, 2014

How Often Should I Schedule Air Conditioning Maintenance?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

In the entry for maintenance found in the 2014 Random House Dictionary, this sentence appears as an example of correct usage: With proper maintenance the car will last for many years. That succinctly sums up why appliances require maintenance: longevity. It applies as much to an air conditioner as to a car. Regular maintenance catches troubles early, helps prevent repairs, and eases stress that can occur from poor operation. Although each of these is a good end in itself, they all contribute to the goal of increasing the service life of the system.

But how often should you schedule air conditioning maintenance in Southern Vermont? Twice a year? Every three years? We’ll take a closer look at scheduling AC maintenance to help you make certain the air conditioner in your home receives the best care.

For a maintenance plan that will ensure you receive maintenance at the right time, call HB Energy Solutions to create a plan that works for you today.

Maintenance frequency

Almost all experienced HVAC technician agree on this point: air conditioners need maintenance service annually, even if nothing seems wrong with them. A year is enough time for an AC to gather dust and dirt and show significant wear on its components. Studies have shown that an air conditioning system that goes for a year without maintenance will work 20% less efficiently, and lose an additional 5% each year thereafter. The system is also at greater risk of repair needs or even suffering a breakdown.

The best time to schedule maintenance service is during spring, a less busy time for HVAC contractors and also right in time for the summer weather. Most maintenance plans and programs arrange for the session in spring (with an additional session for the heating system in fall).

Maintenance is not an expensive task, and most services that offer programs will provide you with a discount for signing up for a yearly maintenance plan. At each maintenance visit, the technician will provide thorough inspections, adjustments, and cleaning to keep the system operating at high efficiency. This increase in efficiency will more than pay for the small cost of maintenance. The best way that maintenance pays back its cost: preventing you from needing an expensive new installation because your air conditioner broke down years before it should.

Sign up for maintenance today

You can contact HB Energy Solutions or download our maintenance plan to see how you can protect your Southern Vermont air conditioner with maintenance. Get started before spring ends and the summer heat arrives.

Is a Standard Storage Tank Water Heater Sometimes a Better Choice?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

If you know about tankless water heaters, then you’ve probably learned about their numerous virtues and why many so many homeowners prefer them. Tankless water heaters never run out of hot water, take up less space in a home, and run much more energy-efficiently than standard storage water heaters because they lose less heat and do not require steady energy to keep water in a tank warm.

However, not everyone has called up their local plumbing company to install a tankless heater. Traditional storage tanks still sit in many homes, and new ones are installed every day. The reason for this is that some homes won’t receive the full benefits of a tankless water heater, and a storage water heater makes better economic sense for them.

Whether a traditional or tankless system will work for your house is something that requires a Southern Vermont plumbing professional to help answer. HB Energy Solutions has kept homeowners in Vermont warm and comfortable for more than 20 years; you can place your trust in us to guide you to your home’s best option for hot water.

Why a storage water heater is sometimes better

Tankless water heaters are more expensive systems to install: anyone considering one for a home needs to balance the upfront costs with the long-term savings. Sometimes, a storage water heater will save more money than a tankless one.

Here’s something to consider: tankless system do not tend to endure as long as storage systems. This means that the amount of money you’ll save from a tankless system depends more on how much hot water your household uses on average rather than how long the system stays around. If you do not use a large amount of hot water, you may not receive significant savings from a tankless system before it needs replacement. Consult with an installer, who can check on your household hot water use to see if a storage water heater may be a superior choice.

Another factor to consider: although tankless water heaters don’t “run out” of hot water, they have trouble keeping up with high volume hot water demands. Proper sizing can help minimize this problem, but larger households might be better served by a high capacity tank water heater.

Professional installation

When factoring the pros and cons of the two systems, they come up about equal: tankless water heaters have high efficiency and unlimited hot water; storage water heaters have convenience and lower installation costs. Your own water use and your budget plans will be the deciding factors, but professional installers will help you feel certain of your choice. And, of course, they’ll install it as well.

Call HB Energy Solutions, your Southern Vermont plumbing experts, to talk about water heater installation today.

Why Frost on an Air Conditioner is a Problem

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Here’s something you might notice on your air conditioner one day: on the indoor unit, an accumulation of ice and frost starting to develop across the coils. People who spot this condition on ACs often dismiss it. The air conditioner is supposed to send out cold air, and it uses refrigerant, just like a refrigerator does. So… shouldn’t a little ice be normal?

It’s not, however. Ice forming along an air conditioner is a sign that it needs professional repairs. The air conditioner has a major fault, and the longer the ice remains on the system, the more in danger the system is of failing to provide any cool air at all to a home.

This problem requires the work of a trained repair technician to remedy it. For the work necessary to get your air conditioning in New Hampshire working again, call HB Energy Solutions today.

The Problem with Frost

The development of icing along the coils of an air conditioner usually warns of one of two problems: a loss of refrigerant or dirt along the coils.

The refrigerant in an air conditioning system is a blend of chemicals that shifts between liquid and gas as it cycles through the system, absorbing heat from the indoors and then releasing heat to the outdoors. Refrigerant is necessary for the heat exchange that makes an air conditioner cool down a space. Refrigerant does not dissipate during normal operation, but leaks can cause its level (known as its “charge”) to drop, which jeopardizes heat exchange.

The reason this causes ice to form along the indoor (evaporator) coil is that low refrigerant leads to low pressure, which causes the refrigerant to cool down too much when it evaporates. The extra cold from the refrigerant causes the water vapor along the coil to freeze. This further restricts heat exchange, and the ice growth continues. If the problem isn’t fixed (a repair technician can seal the leak and recharge the refrigerant), eventually a solid ice block will cover the coils and no heat exchange can take place at all.

Dirt developing along the coils will also make it harder for the coil to absorb sufficient heat, and frost will start to form, leading to the same chain reaction concluding in heat exchange loss.

In neither case will scraping the ice from the coils solve the problem. The ice isn’t the initial problem, but a symptom of it. Trust the work to repair experts who are familiar with this issue.

HB Energy Solutions has assisted New Hampshire with air conditioning repairs and maintenance for over 21 years. When you need help, done fast and right, contact our AC specialists—one call does it all!

Who Invented Modern Solar Power?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

We’ve sometimes heard people ask “Who invented solar power?” The answer is simple: the Sun invented solar power. As long as our solar system has existed, the star at the center of it, a massive engine of hydrogen and helium, has radiated energy to the planets.

However, if we narrow the question down to “Who invented modern solar power?”, the answer grows trickier. No single individual who can take all the credit for the solar cells we use today to capture the energy of the Sun and turn it into electricity.

Nonetheless, there are some key figures in the history of solar cells we can highlight. To receive the benefit of their amazing innovations in your home, call HB Energy Solutions for clean, renewable solar power in Southern Vermont.

A short history of solar energy as a source of electrical power

In 1839, French physicist A. E. Becquerel observed the photovalic effect: voltage or electric current created in material that is exposed to light. The next step came with the chemical element selenium; in 1877 W. G. Adams and R. E. Day published a paper in Britain on the photovalic effect in solid selenium. Eleven years later, Anglo-American chemist Edward Watson patented the “solar cell,” and Russian physicist Aleksandr Stoletov created the first solar cell based on an outside photoelectric effect. More patents followed in the U.S.

In 1904, German physicist Wilhelm Hallwachs used copper to make a semi-conductor solar cell, and it was the “Hallwachs-Effekt” that later became known as the photoelectric effect. The next year, the most famous name in the timeline of solar cells appeared: Albert Einstein published a paper to explain the Hallwach-Effekt as part of quantum physics. The photoelectric effect was at last proved in 1916 by Robert Milikan.

During the 1920s, solar power started to enter homes for the first time, although on a limited basis, when solar water heaters using flat-plate collectors were used in Florida and Southern California. In the 1950s, Bell Labs began to produce solar cells for space exploration using the growth of single-crystal silicon developed over the previous four decades, and they announced in 1954 the “first modern silicon solar cell.” The media started to report on solar power as a major mover in the future of energy.

In the 1960s, Hoffman Electronics increased solar cell efficiency, while spacecraft made use of solar energy for almost all their operation. In 1974, J. Baldwin developed a building in New Mexico that was exclusively heated and powered through solar and wind power. During the 1970s energy crisis, research into solar power as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels increased.

The rise in solar cell research has—so far—reached its peak in 2008 when the U.S. Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Laboratory created the most efficient solar cell yet, with 40.8% efficiency.

No single person can take the credit for modern solar power’s creation, and at a certain point it became too broad field. But one thing is certain: your home can benefit from the free power of the Sun through photovalic cells. Call HB Energy Solutions and talk to our experts in solar power in Southern Vermont today.