Save Energy in 2016

energytips

The Department of Energy is suggesting that as a new years resolution people consider efforts to save energy in 2016. Their suggestions, illustrated in the graphic above, include the following:

Tips to Save Energy in 2016

1. Install and set a programmable thermostat. You could save an estimated 10 percent per year on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat, and by resetting it when you are asleep or away from home, you won’t have to sacrifice comfort.

2. Use sunlight to your advantage. The sun’s rays can contribute heat in the winter but force air conditioners and fans to work harder — and use more energy — in the summer. During winter months, you can take advantage of sunlight by opening your curtains during the day to allow the sun to naturally heat your home. During warmer months, use light-colored window shades or blinds to reflect heat back outside, keeping your home cooler and more efficient. Using natural lighting effectively will also reduce the need to use artificial light.

3. When replacing appliances or purchasing electronics, look for ENERGY STAR appliances, fans and electronics to save energy in 2016. Your home’s appliances and electronics account for close to 20 percent of your energy bills. Using ENERGY STAR® certified products — which incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-15 percent less energy and water than standard models — throughout your home could save nearly $750 over the lifetime of the products. For example, ENERGY STAR clothes washers use about 40 percent less energy than conventional clothes washers while reducing water bills. ENERGY STAR washers also require less detergent and are gentler on clothes, saving you money on clothing expenses.

4. Choose energy-saving lighting. About 10 percent of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs. By just replacing five of your home’s most frequently used lights with energy-efficient ENERGY STAR bulbs, you could save $75 a year in energy costs. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs can yield as much as 75 percent energy savings and last six-times longer. You can get even more energy savings, longer life span and less wasted heat by switching to ENERGY STAR LEDs.

5. Use an electronic power strip for your electronic equipment. Many electronic devices and equipment continue to consume unnecessary energy even when not in use. Often called energy vampires, these devices cost families about $100 a year. Use a power strip for electronic devices and turn it off when not in use to eliminate energy vampires. And be sure to unplug your chargers — they draw energy even when they aren’t connected to a device.

6. Save energy in 2016 by reducing energy for water heating. Water heating is a large energy expense in your home, accounting for about 14-18 percent of your utility bills. By taking low-cost steps, you can reduce your water heating bills. Make sure your water heater is set to no higher than 120 degrees. Install low-flow showerheads or temperature-sensitive shower valves. Newer water heaters have more insulation than older ones. If your water heater is more than five years old, you should wrap a water heater jacket around it to stop heat loss from the tank.

7. Hire a professional to maintain your heating and cooling system. Arrange for annual maintenance with a qualified technician. This includes checking the airflow over the coil, testing for the correct fluid (refrigerant) level, checking the combustion process and heat exchanger are operating safely, and ensuring proper air-flow to each room. In addition, you should clean the air filters in your heating and cooling system once a month, and replace them regularly.

8. Consult a home performance contractor to achieve large savings. There is a growing industry of professionals who are qualified to make recommendations to homeowners on how to improve the overall energy efficiency of their homes. These professional energy assessors will do a comprehensive energy audit of your whole house using special tools — such as a blower door test and an infrared camera to locate air leaks — to measure home energy efficiency.

To read the full article click here.

Plumbing and Presidential Politics

As the 2016 race for the White House heats up, we’ve decided to take a look at the plumbing of presidential politics. In the summer of 2016 each major party will host their national convention. The Republican Party will have its nominating convention in Cleveland, OH at the Quicken Loans Arena from July 18th-21st. Days later the Democratic Party are doing it in Philadelphia, PA at the Wells Fargo Center from July 25th-28th.

So who has the edge in plumbing? Well, there’s good news for both parties here.

Quicken Loans Arena

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The Quicken Loans arena has decreased the amount of water dispensed by one gallon per cycle. They did this by replacing all public restroom sinks with more water efficient spouts.

They also use a system that produces ionized water to be used as a cleaner that, once utilized, reverts back to water. This method of recycling water is an eco-friendly way to clean glass, stainless steel, carpets and hard surfaces at The Q. It also minimizes the need for conventional chemicals.

Wells Fargo Center

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The Wells Fargo Center has made a number of plumbing improvements as well.

For example, they installed automatic faucets to reduce water waste. They also installed a dual flush feature on water closets to further reduce water consumption.

They then further lowered consumption by reducing water flow to toilet fixtures.

In summary it seems that both parties have chosen arenas that have utilized plumbing to conserve water and gain cost and energy saving efficiencies.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Home Heating

Great graphic from U.S. Department of Energy on everything you need to know about home heating.

homeheatingblog

Visit the US Department of Energy for more information.

home energy updates

A Consumers Guide to Home Energy Upgrades

Did you know that heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes? The US Department of Energy provides “Energy Saver” tips and advice on ways consumers can reduce your heating and cooling costs and it all starts with the right contractor!

STEP 1: START WITH THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR

Not all contractors are the same. Some concentrate on kitchens, some on bathrooms. Some concentrate on home energy upgrades — focusing on ways to make your home comfortable, energy efficient and healthy. Look for companies that employ workers who carry the national Home Energy Professional Certifications. A home performance contractor will have a certified auditor either on staff or under contract to evaluate your home.

STEP 2: GET A THOROUGH HOME ENERGY AUDIT

A home performance evaluation, or energy audit, requires specialized equipment and trained individuals — called energy auditors — to operate that equipment. Energy auditors who carry a Home Energy Professional Certification have met the required professional and educational prerequisites and are certified to the highest standard in the industry, proving they are qualified to conduct a home performance evaluation.

The most important piece of equipment an energy auditor operates is called a blower door, which is used to determine where air is leaking out of your home. If you followed the auditor around while the blower door is running, you might be surprised at what you’d find. Air leaking through face plates on switches and outlets, and escaping around doors, windows, pipes, and under sinks … and all of these places add up. Put them all together and you could have a space the size of a bathroom window — maybe even bigger — that’s constantly open. The blower door test is a good way to learn why your house isn’t comfortable.

In addition to the blower door, certified energy auditors use tools — such as gas leak detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, kill-a-watt meters and lead-safe testing kits — to give your home a thorough evaluation.

Be sure to ask if your auditor is certified and what equipment will be used for the evaluation. If your auditor is just going to walk through your house and estimate what work needs to be done, you don’t have an experienced home performance contractor. Ask if you can shadow the auditor during the evaluation — most will welcome the chance to teach you about your home.

STEP 3: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

While all homes are different and need to be evaluated based on their own unique characteristics, most dwellings can benefit from similar types of improvements. Before your energy audit begins, be sure to ask your home energy upgrade contractor about the following things. Some of the upgrades you could do yourself, like replacing a refrigerator or installing a programmable thermostat, provided you know those are significant sources of energy loss.

Click here to learn more.

celebrity plumbers

Celebrity Plumbers: Famous People That Were Plumbers

Ozzy Osbourne

The famous, and some would say infamous, heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne was a plumber’s apprentice and on his way to becoming a plumber himself before turning his attention to Rock & Roll.

Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle

Before becoming a comedic legend, Fatty Arbuckle worked odd jobs and was discovered by film producer Mack Sennett when he came to clean his drains in 1913.

Bob Hoskins

The Oscar nominated actor who starred in such films as Hook and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was a plumber’s assistant before his movie career took off. He also played a plumber in the movie “Super Mario Bros.”

Michael Caine

That’s right. Batman’s butler and Academy Award winning actor Michael Caine was a plumber’s assistant and was actively looking for an apprenticeship before his movie career blossomed.

John L. Sullivan

John L. Sullivan is often referred to as America’s first sports celebrity. He worked as an assistant plumber. A bio on www.boxing.com states that he worked as a plumber to “pursue some of the things he loved best, like drinking, carousing and fighting.”

Ronnie Lane

The guitarist from the band Small Faces (and later Faces when Rod Steward and Ronnie Wood joined), was a plumber who used his income to purchase his first guitar. Shortly after that he started his first band and went on to become one of the UK’s most influential rock and psychedelic guitarists of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Joe Cocker

Famed singer Joe Cocker, who played at Woodstock and turned the Beatles tune “With a Little Help from My Friends” into a generational anthem, was a working class guy from Sheffield, England. He initially worked in the plumbing trade and was an apprentice gasfitter for British Gas while also pursuing a career in music.

Michael Flatley

The creator and star of Lord of the Dance, Irish-American dancer Michael Flatley owned his own plumbing outfit, Dynasty Plumbing.

Albert Einstein

Okay, the truth is that this famous theoretical physicist and former patent clerk was not a plumber, but not because he didn’t dream of being one. In a quote attributed to him by Forbes magazine, Einstein once said: “If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.”

Everything You Wanted to Know about Water Heaters

Great graphic from the U.S. Department of Energy detailing everything you want to know about water heaters.

 

every-thing-you-wanted-to-know-about-water-heaters

Tips for Saving Money on Your Water Bill

Did you know that if you can reduce your water bill by just $25 each month you’ll have an extra $300 in your pocket at the end of the year?

U.S. News & World Report offers a list of six easy ways that any household can save money on their monthly water bill.  These include:

1.  Store Cold Water in the Fridge
Rather than running the tap for the water to cool, fill a pitcher and keep it in the refrigerator for when you want a glass of cold water.

2. Take Shorter Showers
If you reduce shower time by 4 minutes, you save nearly 4,000 gallons per year.

3. Don’t Let the Water Run when Shaving or Brushing Your Teeth
This mistake is a complete waste of water and you’ll see money you can save literally going down the drain!

4. Install a Low-Flow Shower Head
You can reduce water used in the shower by as much as 50 percent with a low-flow shower head.

5. Run Full Loads of Dishes & Laundry
Running these appliances only when full reduces the number of times that you’ll need to run them.

6. Don’t Hand-Wash Dishes
YOu will use 1/6 less water by running a full load in the dishwasher.

To read the full article at U.S. News & World Report, click here.

Energy Saver Guide

  • Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  • Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use — TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
  • Take short showers instead of baths and use low-flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Air dry clothes.
  • Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
  • Drive sensibly; aggressive driving such as speeding, and rapid acceleration and braking, wastes fuel.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Read more from the US Department of Energy.

air conditioning

A Brief History of Air Conditioning

1758 All liquid evaporation has a cooling effect. Benjamin “I invented everything” Franklin and Cambridge University professor John Hadley discover that evaporation of alcohol and other volatile liquids, which evaporate faster than water, can cool down an object enough to freeze water.

1820 Inventor Michael Faraday makes the same discovery in England when he compresses and liquifies ammonia.

1830s At the Florida hospital where he works, Dr. John Gorrie builds an ice-making machine that uses compression to make buckets of ice and then blows air over them. He patents the idea in 1851, imagining his invention cooling buildings all over the world. But without any financial backing, his dream melts away.

1881 After an assassin shoots President James Garfield on July 2, naval engineers build a boxy makeshift cooling unit to keep him cool and comfortable. The device is filled with water-soaked cloth and a fan blows hot air overhead and keeps cool air closer to the ground. The good news: This device can lower room temperature by up to 20 F. The bad news: It uses a half-million pounds of ice in two months… and President Garfield still dies.

1902 Willis Carrier invents the Apparatus for Treating Air for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y. The machine blows air over cold coils to control room temperature and humidity, keeping paper from wrinkling and ink aligned. Finding that other factories want to get in on the cooling action, Carrier establishes the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America.

Click here to read more about the history of Air Conditioning.

buckingham fountain

Plumbing Achievements: Buckingham Fountain in Chicago

San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. For New York City, it’s the Statue of Liberty. Chicago? It’s got Buckingham Fountain, an icon that mingles water, multi-colored lights, and granite, as well as bronze and pink georgia marble. Not to mention a jet that sprays water to seemingly impossible heights.

The fountain’s wow factor has entranced questioner Alan Ireland, an HVAC contractor and a self-described “pump guy.” While growing up in Chicago, he wondered how the fountain works and heard lore of a hidden engineer who kept the displays going.

Eric Kelmar, an assistant chief engineer for the Chicago Park District, manages the team of about five engineers who tend to Buckingham Fountain. Kelmar explains that due to the high priority of site, “We try to keep it to a small family of people who operate it daily.”

Every morning, from April 1 through mid-October, one of Kelmar’s team throws on a pair of waders and pulls out any debris that birds may have lodged in the fountain’s screens and baskets overnight.

Then, at 8:00 a.m., the engineer manually starts up the fountain. An hour later, the first water-show begins. Kelmar says the fountain’s center jet can shoot water as high as 150 feet in the air, depending on wind conditions. That’s 15 stories.

To read more of this story, click here.