Archive for December, 2014

The Composition of Snowflakes: Are No Two Alike?

Thursday, 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!

How Does Wood Pellet Conversion Work?

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Though most home heating systems rely on natural gas as a fuel source, there are still many that use older fuels. Oil-burning heaters still have their adherents across the country. However, oil is not the most efficient of fuels, and must be carefully stored and used to avoid a fire. With that in mind, many oil heating system owners are starting to convert their systems to use wood pellets instead. Let’s take a look at how wood pellet conversion works.

Anatomy of a Wood Pellet System

Most wood-pellet systems are comprised of a burner, a storage unit, a conveyor, and a controller. The storage unit stores anywhere from a week to a few months’ worth of pellets. The conveyor is responsible for moving the pellets from the storage unit to the burner. The burner is self-explanatory, and the controller automates all the other systems.

The rest of the heating system works more or less the same way as any other heating system of the same type that uses other fuel types.

Converting to a Wood Pellet System

The great thing about converting your heater into a wood pellet burning system is that it doesn’t require any permanent or involved modifications. All that needs to be done is the original oil burner needs to be taken out, to make room for the wood pellet system. If you decide later on that you’d prefer to switch back, you can switch the mechanisms again with ease.

Advantages of a Wood Pellet System

There are a few different reasons to switch to a wood pellet system. For one thing, it’s cheap. Wood pellets are just about the cheapest fuel source available for heating systems. For another, it’s a green fuel. Wood pellets are made from trees often grown locally, and supported by their local community for having a small environmental footprint. If you’re worried about the impact your heating is having on the environment, wood pellets are a great way to ease those fears.

If you’d like to know more about wood pellet heaters, call HB Energy Solutions. We install wood pellet furnaces throughout New Hampshire.


The Best Type of Garage Heater for Southern Vermont

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Many people use their garage as an extra space to work in, rather than as a place to park their cars. You may use your garage, shed, or alternative detached structure as a workshop for woodworking or automotive repair, crafting, or even as a play area for the children. When winter hits in Southern Vermont, these activities should not have to cease. You can find a few different options for garage heating, and we’d like to help you decide on the best choice for you.

At HB Energy Solutions, we believe one of the best units available for heating a garage or any similar space in this climate is the Hot Dawg gas-fired garage heater. This heater has many special features including a 10-year warranty, quick installation, and quiet operation. It can run on natural gas or propane and features a flexible, low-profile design. The standard version is power vented to the outdoors, but you can get additional features if you choose a separated combustion unit.

The separated combustion unit offers several added benefits so that you don’t have to breathe in stale indoor air that may contain dangerous chemicals or other contaminants. The fan in a separated combustion heater draws in air from the outdoors instead of from the space around the unit. This can help to make the air feel more comfortable and control humidity levels. Besides eliminating some toxins from the air, these units also offer an increased AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating and greater durability.

You can still add ventilation to your garage with a separate heat recovery ventilator, even if you choose the standard power-exhausted Hot Dawg models. When you install a heat recovery ventilator, a fan draws in air from the outside and preheats it so that the stale indoor air can vent outside.

When you need garage heaters in Southern Vermont, the people at HB Energy Solutions are here to help. We are proud to offer Hot Dawg garage heaters for installation, and we’re happy to help you come up with a good system for ventilation as well.

Give our office a call today!

Tips for Maintaining the Electrical Wiring in Your Home

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Your number one concern in your home is safety, which is why the electrical system in your home should never be neglected. You use electricity for so many of the tasks you complete throughout the day, and, while it’s generally reliable, there is a safety risk attached when you are dealing with wiring. To protect the electrical components of your home and to protect your safety, follow some of the following tips that can improve the safety of any whole house electrical systems in New Hampshire.

  • Perform a Visual Check: Never ignore a perceived problem with your electrical system—no matter how small. Look for damage in the cables, overloaded sockets, malfunctioning equipment, flickering lights, or other problems that signal something is not quite right. Call a skilled electrician to ask what should be done about your particular issue.
  • Consider a Service Panel Upgrade: You may consider upgrading your service panel if you have an older home or if you’ve had a lot of problems with the service panel in the past. Older homes were not built to handle the amount of electrical appliances we use today. Because your home wasn’t meant to handle the voltage you require, you may blow a fuse (in older service panels) or trip the circuit breakers frequently. In this case, a new panel is often your best bet.
  • Only Allow Experts to Work on Your Home: One of the best ways to make sure the electrical components of your home are in top shape is to make sure you never trust a job to amateurs. Electrical wiring jobs can be dangerous, and faulty wiring can lead to fire hazards or even smaller problems like high energy bills and frequent outages.
  • Schedule Routine Maintenance: Finally, you should schedule routine maintenance to ensure that all of the parts of your electrical system are working as they should. Electrical maintenance is key to keeping your home safe, comfortable, and efficient.

Call HB Energy Solutions for any type of repairs, installation, or maintenance on whole house electrical systems in New Hampshire or to get valuable safety information about your electrical equipment.