Post date: October 24, 2016

My business has provided home-improvements for over 30 years:  heating, air-conditioning, plumbing, water treatment, electrical, bath remodeling, etc.

I'm not referring to repairs (which we also do), but rather major projects to rehabilitate and/or add new facilities to an existing home.

I've also engaged several companies for projects at my own home and office, so all-in-all, I've seen "the good, the bad and the ugly."

As such, I want to offer the following advice to people considering purchasing home-improvements.

1.  Only deal with profitable companies:

Home-improvment contractors are in business to make a profit. If they don't make a profit they go out of business. Some are unprofitable, some break-even and some make a modest net profit of 5-10+%. 

You should only deal with profitable companies. 

Why? Because profitable businesses have money in the bank, which means they can see a job through to completion, even in the face of unanticipated cost over-runs, and have the ability to offer you a real warranty. Unprofitable companies, on the other hand, have little if any surplus cash, so when their costs are higher than anticipated they might cut-corners to make ends meet; or if you make a warranty claim, they might not return your phone calls.

How can you determine if a company is profitable?

Visit their office. Look at their vehicles, tools and equipment. Profitable companies have the money to invest in new equipment, employee training, maintenance, janitorial and landscaping service, etc. They also have the money to invest in bright, capable people that will serve you well.

Do profitable companies charge more?  Absolutely. But the chances are far greater they'll deliver what they promised.

2. Get customer references and interview key people:

After you've visited their office, ask for a list of 6-8 customer references.  Make sure these references include the scope, price, foreman and dates of these projects. If the contractor hesitates to provide them, they probably don't exist.

When they provide the references, take the time and effort to contact the individuals and chat with them by phone or email. Ask alot of questions, listen and take notes.  Your final question should always be, "Would you hire them for your next project?" If the answer to this question is anything other than "Yes!", do more research.

Also, ask to talk in-person with the foreman that will run your job.  The business owner may be a sharp guy, but the foreman is the key to your satisfaction. Take him to lunch before you sign a contract.

Another good source of company information is the Better Business Bureau and Angie's List.  Angie's list will cost a small amount of money to subscribe to, but this is "chicken feed" by comparison to the cost of your project.

I can't emphasize enough the need to get customer references: if you want a "great job", you need to assure yourself that the contractor is in the habit of providing "great jobs" on a regualr basis.

3.  Negotiate a thorough contract and scope of work:

You'll probably have numerous conversations with the company before the job commences, and will get a written "proposal."

Make sure that everything you expect in regards to the scope of work, material, payment, warranty, job schedule, access, clean-up, etc. is in writing. So often there are numerous "side conversations" between homeowner and contractor that never get put in writing and will lead to disagreements.  Make sure you and the contractor explicitly understand and agree on each element of the job.

Depending on the size of the contract this may require a 15-60 minute meeting and a final revision of the contract.

I can't tell how many times I've had disagreement with customers becasue they thought something was included and I hadn't include it in my contract.

4.  Once the project is underway:

If you've taken my advice above, hopefully things should run pretty smoothly.

However, insist on regular communcation from the contractor (perhaps daily on a small project), updating you on job progress and any complications.  If the project will last 2 weeks, it makes sense that you and he meet daily for 15 minutes. Don't waste his time, but you can stop small problems from becoming big ones by inspecting the site once a day.

5.  Project close-out

Hopefully, your project runs pretty smoothly, but there's always "loose ends" that need to be addressed.

Rather than calling the contractor every time you have a question or comment, send him an e-mail or fax daily near the end of the job, addressing items not completed.  Ask him for a response in writing and a completion schedule.

There's always the issue of final payment vis-a-vis project close-out. If you've selected a good and profitable contractor, he should be reasonable about final payment in relationship to project completion.

Post date: October 24, 2016

Most people think that the days of tax credits and rebates for solar, heating, airconditioning and water heating products are long gone. Nothing could be further from the truth. The following is a partial list of FREE MONEY available to you when you upgrade your home: + New Mexico Gas Co. ENERGY STAR® for residential products such as tankless water heaters and furnaces + New Mexico Gas. Co. commercial solutions program for products such as tankless water heaters, space heating and laundry equipment, ranges, etc. + State of New Mexico tax rebate for photo-voltaic and thermal solar installations + PNM rebates for photo-voltaic installations + U.S Federal tax credits for almost everything listed above. Tax credits can run as high as 30+%. So, if you buy a solar water heater for $10,000 the U.S Federal tax credit is $3,000. That’s $3,000 subtracted from your tax bill. Depending on your energy consumption you may be able to payback the $7,000 differential in 5-8 years. That means a return on your investment of 10- 20%. A bank certificate of deposit currently earns less than 1% and investmentgrade bonds earn 3-4%. Invest NOW in energy-saving home improvements. Some tax credits and rebates have expiration dates as early as December 31, 2013—so if you’re shopping for these products don’t delay!

Post date: October 24, 2016

Tankless water heaters sales have really taken off in the last few years.

We first started installing them in the early 1980s after the Arab Oil embargo and they weren’t very good. The gas models couldn’t deliver a consistent water temperature and the electric models burned out after a couple years.

But that’s all changed. I replaced my 65-gallon tank water heater with a Rinnai RU98i 95% efficient condensing model last year and nobody in our household noticed a difference. I did it because I wanted to install a water softener and there was wasn’t enough room with the tank in the way.

I’m a little disappointed in the supposed energy savings, however. They’ve got to be there since the Rinnai is 95% efficient and the tank-type was 80%--plus I’m no longer storing 65 gallons of hot water 24/7/365. I just can’t see much savings in my gas bill. However, our household occupancy varies quite a bit month-tomonth. Time will tell.

Tankless manufacturers generally recommend that you de-scale your heater every year, no matter what your water hardness. This is pretty good advice, I think, because if you don’t do it at least once a year you’ll probably forget to do it at all.

And don’t forget! If you let calcium build up on the walls of the heat exchanger I might have to sell you a new one! The calcium deposits not only act as an insulator and waste gas, but they cause the unit to run hot and might cause the heat exchanger to prematurely fail.

The de-scaling process is very simple and you don’t need a contractor to do it. Just close a couple valves, connect a couple hoses and turn on the pump. We sell the de-scaling kit for $199.95. When you pick it up at our office, we’ll even take you through the procedure.

Post date: October 24, 2016

Well, Labor Day’s come and gone, and even though it’s still warm, it’s not too
early to give some thought to your heating system.

We’ve been heating contractors in Santa Fe for over 30 years and would like to
offer some professional (and neighborly) advice regarding your heating system.

1. Turn it on and test it before you need it. It’s not uncommon for systems to have
problems on initial start-up. Turn yours on some cool morning between now and
mid-October and let it run a couple hours. It you notice a problem, you’ll have
time to get it repaired before the November rush.

2. New heating systems are like new cars—they’ll run for years without a
problem. But old heating systems are like old cars—they require regular repairs. If
your system is 15+years old, get it serviced once a year.

3. With an older system it’s smart to be “pro-active” and start replacing
components that are nearing the end of their service life. If you wait until a
component fails, you’ll not only be inconvenienced by the heating outage, you’ll
inevitably pay more for the emergency repair. Talk to a qualified heating
contractor and have them write a proposal for rehabilitating your heating plant.
They should prioritize the list with the most important items first. You can
compare this with the cost of a new system and decide where to invest your
money.

4. Make sure your mechanical room is clean and well-lit. Inspect it once a month:
you’ll notice changes that might indicate that trouble is immanent. Get your
owner’s manual and read it!

5. Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors near the mechanical room and
bedrooms. These units have a small radio-active element that helps sense the CO.
However, this element has a life-expectancy of 7-8 years so they’ll have to be
replaced or they won’t work. They were probably installed when your house was
built.

Call us at 505-471-4221 if we can be of assistance

Post date: October 24, 2016

Finance your new heating, air-conditioning, solar or aero-thermal heat pump purchase at Hubbell Electro-Mechanical

 

*Loan amounts: $1,000 minimum to $35,000 maximum

*On-line application with same day approval [FTLFinance.com]

*Terms from 12 months to 84 months

*90 days same-as-cash

*No down-payment required

*No application fee

*No pre-payment penalty

Post date: October 24, 2016

In my 1st blog “A Better Idea” I related my discussion with a general contractor about 2 different methods for heating and cooling a new custom home north of Santa Fe, NM.

I had proposed 2 budgets:  one was for a propane-fired radiant floor system that included a separate forced-air Lennox air-conditioning system. The other was for a Daikin Altherma air-to-water heat pump system using radiant floor heating and cooling.

One big advantage of using the Altherma is that it costs far less to operate than a high-efficiency propane boiler.

Here’s the cost comparison:

Given: a therm is equal to 100,000 BTUs, a gallon of propane contains 90,000 BTUs and 1 KWH = 3415 BTUs.

Propane:  $2.50/gallon ÷ .9 (to convert to therms) = $2.78/therm ÷ .95 (combustion efficiency) = $2.93/therm delivered as heat

Altherma:  29.3 KWH/therm x $.12/KWH = $3.51 ÷ 3.0 (co-efficiency of performance) = $1.17/therm delivered as heat.

Thus the Altherma will deliver heat for 61% less cost that the propane boiler. If a conventional 80% efficient boiler is used, the Altherma would cost 67% less to operate.

The key is “co-efficiency of performance”.  For every 1 KWH of power consumed by the Altherma heat pump, it will produce 3 KWHs of heat.  The differential, 2 KWHs, is taken from the outside air. The 3.0 co-efficiency of performance is the average for the entire heating season.

Daikin calls this process “Aerothermal” as compared with “Geothermal”; in any case it’s “free”, renewable energy from the atmosphere.

The Altherma will provide far lower heating costs.  It will also cool the house without having to add an entirely separate (and expensive) forced-air system.

Post date: October 24, 2016

A general contractor recently called regarding an upcoming project: a 3,500 square foot home with a 500 square foot detached studio in a luxury subdivision north of Santa Fe.

In-floor radiant heating was specified, and since air-conditioning is now considered almost mandatory in Santa Fe up-scale homes, the architect added a 2nd system: two forced-air furnaces, complete with supply and return ductwork and outdoor condensers. An added benefit of a forced air system is (since radiant heating is quite slow to respond): they will quickly heat the home during a “cold-snap” or when thermostats have been set back.

I told the contractor:  I have a better idea. Let’s use the radiant floor for heating as well as air-conditioning! It will cost less to install and cost less to operate (since the fuel source was propane). Why install two complete systems when one will suffice?

The concept of radiant cooling is relatively new to the United States but the technology has been around for a long time, used especially in Europe. When I discovered that the airport in Bangkok, Thailand air-conditioned its sunny concourses mainly with radiant floor cooling, I knew it would work in northern New Mexico. My business for the last few years has consisted predominantly of Daikin and Mitsubishi heat pumps.

So I proposed an alternate utilizing Daikin Altherma air-to-water heat pumps.  These are “Aero-thermal” units that produce hot and chilled water.  In the heating mode they extract heat from the environment like other “renewable” technologies such as geo-thermal, solar and wind turbines, and do so very efficiently even at very cold outdoor temperatures.

I prepared two budgets for the contractor:

Budget 1 (home and studio as designed by architect)

                     + 4,000 SF radiant floor @ $5/SF                                 $20,000                                           

                     +95% LP high-efficiency boiler, 80-gallon

                        sidearm water heater, pumps, controls, etc.                18,000

                     +(2) 95% LPG furnaces, (2) AC condensers

                        and zoning system                                                       30,000

                     +ductwork, insulation, grills and diffusers                       16,000

                     +ductless AC for guest house                                          5,000

                                                                                    TOTAL           $89,000

 

Budget 2 (my proposal for Daikin Altherma radiant floor heating and cooling)

 

                      + 4,000 SF radiant floor @ $5/SF                                $20,000                                            

                      +(2) Altherma outdoor heat pumps, (2) indoor

                        Hydro boxes, 80-gallon sidearm water heater,

                        controls, etc.                                                                46,000

                      +Altherma solar heat exchanger and 4x8 collector        10,000

                                                                                    TOTAL          $76,000

                                 COST SAVINGS WITH ALTHERMA                  $13,000

But wait! My proposal gave the contractor a $10,000 solar domestic water heater so the real differential is actually $23,000.  So why did I include a solar water heater?  Because if we use the Altherma system to back-up the solar water heater the whole $56,000 package is eligible for a 30% Federal tax credit.

                        Federal tax credit of 30% on Daikin package

                        $56,000 x .3 = $16,800                                               (16,800)

Thus the after- tax cost-reduction of my proposal is actually $29,800, or 1/3 less than the system the architect proposed. 

On top of that, by using energy-saving heat pumps and the solar water heater instead of propane, the utility costs for this home will be reduced by about $2,500 per year.

Thus, after only 7 years of operation the Altherma system will have cost the home owner about 1/2 to install and operate compared to the specified system.                                                              

Notes:

1.  The above is an estimate to be used only for general cost comparison purposes.

2.  Seasonal heating co-efficiency of performance for Altherma is projected at 3 to 3.25, which will provide heating costs of approx. 55 to 65% less than propane. Projected heating cost savings are $1,750 to $2,500 per year.

4.  Budget 2 provides for solar domestic water heating which Budget 1 does not:  additional energy cost savings ($500 to 1,000/year for water heating depending on occupancy).

5.  Tax credit is allowed on entire Altherma package only if solar component is installed.  This credit expires in 2016. NM solar tax credits may apply as well.

6.  Floor condensation during cooling mode has not been an issue in Santa Fe. To protect against potential floor condensation an energy recovery ventilator could be installed with chilled water coil to reduce humidity in home. A simple system could be installed for about $3,500.

7.  Floor temperatures for this project during cooling mode would be 62-66° F. This is about the temperature of a concrete slab-on-grade in a forced-air heated space during winter months. “Cold floors” with radiant cooling really aren’t an issue.

8.  Radiant tubing can be installed in walls and ceilings as well as floors.

10. Honeywell “RedLINK” internet-compatible controls allow for simple and inexpensive remote operation of heating and cooling.

Post date: October 24, 2016

In part 1 of this article we covered a. the fact that natural gas is a relatively cheap fuel and propane and electricity are relatively expensive and b. if natural gas isn’t available, a heat pump is a good way to reduce your energy costs.

Let’s talk a little more about determining your actual energy costs and whether investing in high-efficiency heating (or cooling) equipment makes sense for you.

 As I mentioned in part 1, like any other product, energy costs are constantly changing, and you need to get at least a 12 month cycle of your electricity and gas bills to begin any analysis.  The rates I used for electricity, natural gas and propane were strictly an educated guess and you need to know exactly how much energy and what you’re paying per unit of energy.  If you don’t have your old bills you can get them from the utility companies.

Once you have 12 to 24 months of energy bills in hand, the first thing you should do is separate your domestic water heating consumption from your space heating consumption. Let’s assume you’re using natural gas for both and the 12-month total is $2,500. Now take the July bill and multiply it X12 (for example $65 X 12 = $780). Subtract $780 from $2,500 and you’re spending $1,720 on space heating.

(I’m going to ignore gas for cooking and clothes drying since they’re insignificant in almost all cases. Obviously if you’re using gas to heat a hot tub all bets are off.)

Let’s say you have a 35-year-old forced air furnace and want to replace it.  What are the economics of purchasing a standard 80% efficient furnace or a 96% high-efficiency unit?

For starters let’s assume your existing furnace (which was rated at about 80% efficient) is, for purposes of comparison, operating at 75% efficiency.  Let’s also assume that a new 80% furnace will cost $3,000 installed and the 96% will cost $4,200, all including tax. Does it make economic sense to buy the 96% unit?

To compare operating costs between the old furnace and the 96% unit, we’ll .75 by .96 for a quotient of .78, which means the 96% furnace will operate for 78% of the cost of the old one or 22% less.  So we multiply yearly heating costs of $1,720 X .22 which results in yearly savings of $378.40.  Divide this amount into the $1,200 cost differential and the answer is that the new furnace will pay for itself in 3.17 years.  If we round this to 3 years to keep the math simple, this means you’re getting “interest” on you investment of about 33% per year. Since banks are paying about 1% for CDs and municipal bonds are paying about 3% this would be an excellent investment.

Let’s look at your water heating costs.  Your tank-type water heater was replaced about 18 years ago and you need a new one; this would cost about $1,200. Would it be wise to consider a high-efficiency tankless water heater?

Calculating the cost savings in this case is trickier because it’s hard to estimate the “stand-by losses” of your tank-type water heater (tankless don’t have any) . I think a 25% savings is conservative so let’s plug this in and see what happens.

A new tank type water heater is $1,200 and a tank-less water heater is $3,500 so the difference is $2,300.  Your yearly water heating cost is $780 but you’ll save 25% of this, or $195.  This results in a payback of about 12 years—not such a good deal, but your return is still 8-9% a year.

Post date: October 24, 2016

Before you invest in energy-saving heating and cooling equipment for your home it’s important to understand how long it will take to recover the cost of your expenditure. There’s no need to spend money on expensive equipment if it wears-out before it pays for itself!

(If you don’t care about your return-on-investment, and only want to reduce your energy consumption, I can live with that too.)

Energy cost-analysis requires a complete evaluation of current costs and efficiencies as well as a projection of costs 5 to 15 years in the future.  As such it is often a “best-guess” scenario with many variables.

I was motivated to write this piece when a homeowner recently called and said his “contractor” told him that he wouldn’t save any money by replacing an electric boiler with a boiler fired by natural gas.

So let’s compare the cost of three fuels: natural gas, propane and electricity.  For the sake of brevity I’ll spare you the calculations required to arrive at these figures but will gladly share them with you via phone or e-mail.

Cost per therm (100,000 BTUs) delivered as heat:

Natural gas @ $.75/therm and 80% efficiency                     $.93

Natural gas @ $.75/therm and 95% efficiency                       .78

Electricity @ $4.17/therm and 100% efficiency                   4.17 ($.14/kWh)

Propane @ $3.33/therm and 80% efficiency                       4.16 ($3.00/gallon)

Propane @3.33/therm and 95% efficiency                          3.50 ($3.00/gallon)

A couple of comments:

1.  These costs are only a guideline to help you calculate your actual costs.  For instance, if you paid $2.70 a gallon including tax for your last delivery of propane, you’d divide 2.70 by 3.00 and get a quotient of .9.  This means that at 80% efficiency your cost per therm would be $3.74 rather than $4.16.

2.  If you look at your electric bill from PNM you’ll discover that are 3 different rates depending on usage—the more you use the higher cost per kWh. But if you’re not a large user, you might not see the highest rate on your bill.

You can see that natural gas is a real bargain compared to propane and electricity—so my “homeowner” got some very bad advice from his “contractor.”

However, if you live in the country where natural gas isn’t available you do have another option:  heat pumps.

A heat pump is a refrigeration device that air-conditions in the summer; it heats in the winter by absorbing heat from the outside air, even during bitterly cold periods. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but suffice it to say I’ve installed dozens of heat pumps that have been running for several winters as the sole source of heat and my customers are quite happy about their energy bills.

To understand heat pumps I’ll introduce the term Co-efficiency of Performance (COP).  In Santa Fe I estimate a COP of 3.25.  This means if you purchase 1 kWh of electricity the heat pump produces 3.25 kWh of heating. The 2.25 kWh differential is energy extracted from the outside air.  If you’re heating with propane or electricity you can save 60-70% on your heating costs by installing a heat pump.  So the last fuel cost comparison is:

Electric heat pump @$4.17/therm and 3.25 COP               $1.28

Please remember these are only projections and can vary from site to site and over time.

Well that’s all the time I’ve got today and I still haven’t dealt with two important items: a. historic cost of fuels and b. how to calculate payback on your energy investment.

I’ll save these for part 2 of this article.

John M. Onstad

Post date: October 24, 2016

Radiant floor heating has been very popular in northern New Mexico (and throughout the Rockies) for 30+ years.

Since air-conditioning wasn’t necessary at these higher elevations (except for the last 8-10 years) homeowners have enjoyed the many benefits of radiant heating: a. no visible equipment in the living space, b. noiseless operation, c. pleasantly warm floors and d. very even heating.

Most contractors “in the business” realize there are disadvantages to radiant, due mainly to its lack of control and set-back, but the above advantages outweighed the disadvantages in the mind of the consumer.

However, as mentioned above, summer-time temperatures have been far above historical averages in the region for nearly a decade and demand for air-conditioning has increased dramatically.

So what are your options regarding air-conditioning a home with radiant floor heating? 

1. Ducted systems.  Most existing homes in the Santa Fe area don’t have an attic or crawl space so this option generally requires that the air-conditioner and ductwork are installed on the roof, with penetrations through the roof for the supply and return ductwork. If you’re building a new home, the ductwork can be concealed in the ceiling but sometimes this can be problematic.

I’m not crazy about this method (especially on existing homes) because it can involve a lot of roof penetrations, and the equipment and ductwork can be very unsightly. It’s also noisier and more difficult to zone than a ductless system. However, it generally is the least expensive option to install.

2.  Ductless systems (also called mini-splits).   These systems have an outdoor unit, usually roof-mounted, that’s about the size of a suitcase. It connects with multiple indoor units (fancoils) with small diameter (1/4” to 1/2”) copper refrigerant piping.  The indoor units come in a variety of types: wall-mounted, floor-mounted, ceiling recessed and concealed-ducted. Usually one indoor unit is installed in every room.  These systems have been extremely popular for homes with radiant slab heating due to the ease of installation, flexibility and low profile. They’re also extremely quiet, super-efficient and are available in heat pumps for winter heating as well.  To view product selections, go to the Mitsubishi Electric website at [www.mehvac.com].

3.  Radiant cooling systems. If there’s radiant tubing in the floor for heating, why not use it for cooling as well by circulating chilled water and cooling the floor?

Seems far-fetched?  Not really. By using an air-to-water heat pump (such as Daikin’s Altherma, which produces both hot and chilled water), the slab can be cooled to 62-66° F.  Since our skin temperature is in the mid-80s, this provides very effective cooling as our warm bodies radiate heat to the cool floor.

There are two misconceptions regarding radiant floor cooling that I’d like to address. The first is that the floor will be uncomfortably cold.  We’ve installed a couple of these systems and I can assure you that the owners are delighted with the comfort level: the floors are cool but not cold.

The second is the notion that since cold air is heavier than warm air, some sort of de-stratification system (such as fans) will be required.  Again, not true as radiant energy heats and cools things and not air. Think of standing next to a large window on a winter night. The air temperature may be just fine but you feel chilly because your body is radiating a lot of heat to the cold glass.

The only application caveat is that existing systems designed and installed for radiant heating may not have enough tubing to effectively cool your home. If this is the case we can install a limited amount of ductless air-conditioning to supplement the radiant cooling.

Radiant floor cooling is used extensively around the world and is just beginning to gain acceptance in the USA. It’s an exciting technology!

Post date: October 24, 2016

If there’s one hard-and-fast rule in life it’s: don’t believe anything you read on the Internet!

I was recently reviewing customer satisfaction surveys on the Internet regarding residential air-conditioning equipment, and noticed that the ratio between “very satisfied” and “very dissatisfied” was about 1:3. This lop-sided ratio generally held true of every brand of air-conditioning!

This amazed me since the ratio at Hubbell Electro-Mechanical is about 50:1 (and the 1 dissatisfied customer was usually bound-and-determined not to be satisfied).

I could make all sorts of comments regarding the results of the survey (like hiring unqualified contractors to get a cheap price), but the more important issue is that Bubba can say anything he wants on the Internet with absolutely no accountability.  If we believed the AC survey there’s not a decent manufacturer of equipment on the planet.  But just the opposite is true:  they’re all great.

This leads me to the topic of today’s blog:  cold-weather heat pump performance.

If you investigate heat pumps on the Internet you’ll read a steady drum-beat of: “heat pumps don’t work in cold weather”.

This may have been true 30 years ago but certainly not today.

 I’ve had heat pumps installed in my office building for about 5 years.  They’re the sole source of heat. In February of 2011 (when the whole state of NM froze-up), I drove to work early one morning and the time/temperature sign said: -18° F. When I got to work my office was 72° F.

I know it’s pretty hard to fathom how a machine can extract heat from frigid winter air in quantities adequate to heat a building.

But it’s true!

Post date: October 20, 2016

PNM (Public Service Company of New Mexico) just increased electric rates. June, July and August rates are higher than other months.  This means air-conditioning bills will increase.

The following rates are effect per NMPRC document 10-000-86-UT, dated August 21, 2012.

                                                   June, July & August                 All other months

First 450 kWh/month                          $.0906                                     $.0906

Next 450kWh/month                            .1373                                       .1185

All additional kWh                                .1577                                       .1284

According to these rates, residential air-conditioning users will pay up to 70% more for electricity during summer months than they do during off-peak months.

To be fair these rates aren’t much higher than previous rates.  However, most PNM customers probably aren’t aware there’s a 3-tier rate structure, with a whopping $.16 rate for large users.

I thought this kind of thing only happened in California!

Post date: October 20, 2016

Heating and Cooling Tips

  • Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer, and -- depending on the season -- raise or lower the setpoint when you're sleeping or away from home.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces and air conditioners once a month or as recommended.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to perform this task, contact a professional.
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
  • During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun's heat.