Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for the ‘Green Living’ Category

Dear Santa, Please Bring Me Some New Plumbing Accessories (Really!!)

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

When most people think of holiday gifts for their family, chances are they’re not considering…plumbing. But maybe it’s time to think again. Everyone uses toilets, sinks, and showers every day – which means that making improvements to your plumbing will make your entire family more comfortable, every day! The right plumbing upgrades can help your family enjoy mornings more, get fewer colds, savor great European style, and save money on utility bills (money that you can put towards that new car, or a dream vacation).

Plumbing upgrades are also a great green gift. They save water and energy, and they last for years – much better than cheap, disposable stuff that will just wind up in the landfill.

So, while we’re not necessarily recommending that you completely forget about jewelry, toys, and electronics, we do think you should consider adding plumbing improvements to your gift list.

Here are some suggestions for some great, relatively inexpensive plumbing improvements that your family will enjoy every day:

  • Insulate your hot water pipes, and put a blanket over your hot water heater. This is often touted as a money-saving measure (and it is) – but it has the wonderful side effect of making your water hotter as it comes out of your sink or shower. You can’t put this under the tree…but wouldn’t your family enjoy waking up to lovely warm showers on Christmas morning? This is a great gift if you’re strapped for cash, because the materials for insulating your pipes and heater are very inexpensive – the biggest part of the gift is a couple of hours of your time and effort. (Read our blog post on insulating your hot water pipes to find out how easy it is to do.) [Link to: http://www.milani.ca/blog/plumbing/prevent-frozen-pipes/]
  • Replace your old water-saving showerhead with one of the new-generation water-saving showerheads. Those old aerators were virtuous, but they can be chilly and a little prickly.  With the right new showerhead, you’ll never even know that you’re saving water – you’ll just feel like you’re in a luxury hotel. You can get a wide range of fun styles and functions, including rain showerheads, massage showerheads, you name it. (Pair a new showerhead with insulating your pipes to really kick your family’s shower experience up a notch!)

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Dual-Flush Toilets: Another Great Green Plumbing Innovation

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

If you’ve traveled to Europe or Australia, you’ve probably seen toilets with two buttons instead of a single flush handle. Pressing one button flushes the toilet lightly to remove liquid waste, and pressing the other produces a higher-volume flush to remove solid waste.

Originally designed for drought-prone Australia, these water-saving toilets are becoming increasingly popular in North America as well.

Standard 1.6-gallon toilets are a great improvement over older toilets, which used 3 or even more gallons per flush. But dual-flush toilets are even more water-efficient. A “full flush” uses 1.53 gallons per flush, and a “half flush” uses only 1.02 gallons per flush. The result is a reduction of up to 68% in water usage over a conventional toilet (and even more if your conventional toilet is old and leaky).

Of course the savings vary from person to person, but if you use the toilet an average of 5 times a day, you’ll save close to 600 gallons of water every year. For a family of four, that works out to a total savings of 2400 gallons annually. And, since toilet usage typically accounts for roughly a quarter of your water bill, you can end up with a monthly savings of close to 17%.

Another benefit of dual-flush toilets is that most models have a larger trapway for removing waste than conventional toilets – which reduces the likelihood of a clog.

Finally, dual-flush toilets look great. They are sleek, modern, and European-looking, and they perfectly complement a high-end bathroom.

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Heating system rebates up to $3,500 – now through December 31st!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Have you taken advantage of the Federal Tax Credit yet?  What are you waiting for?  This is the FINAL MONTH to save thousands of dollars when you replace your old, less efficient home heating system with a new, energy saving, high efficiency heater!  If you replace your natural gas, propane gas or oil heating system with a qualifying system by December 31st the Federal Government is providing a tax credit up to $1,500!*

The year-end incentives don’t stop there!  In addition to the tax credit, manufacturer rebates of up to $1,000 on new heating systems and air conditioning systems are available now through December 31st.  Combine these two incentives and you’re saving up to $2,500 by simply having Carney Plumbing, Heating and Cooling replace your old, less efficient heater and air conditioner with a new, energy saving system.

In addition to the money you’re saving through the rebate offers, modern high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems save hundreds of dollars each year in energy usage and come with FULL 10 YEAR PARTS & LABOR WARRANTIES.
Call us today at 215.346.7160 to schedule your FREE, in-home consultation!  Don’t forget- these rebates are only available until December 31st.

The rebates don’t stop there!  We would like to offer you even more savings!  Carney Plumbing, Heating and Cooling now has a coupon allowing for an instant $400 off of your purchase of a new heater and air conditioner!  Click here for the coupon!

Finally, utility providers such as PECO and PP&L are offering rebates up to $700 for high efficiency furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners.

Families across Pennsylvania are taking advantage of the Rebate Programs.

As you can see, the savings really add up if you act now, but this opportunity will not last!  Don’t wait until after December 31st to have your new heating system installed, because missing this deadline will cost you savings of up to $3,500!!!  Call Carney today to schedule your FREE in-home consultation and take advantage of these unprecedented incentives before the year is over and these offers expire!

*Consult your tax preparer for personal eligibility concerning tax credit.

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Plumbing Is Going Green! Start with Simple Upgrades to Your Faucets and Showerheads

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

When people talk about “green building”, they’re typically referring to energy-efficient heating and cooling appliances, insulated walls and windows, and sustainable materials. But these days “green plumbing” is getting increasing attention – and rightly so, because water consumption is a major factor in the environmental footprint of any building! The green plumbing movement is being led by drought-prone Australia, where it’s even possible for plumbers to earn a Green Plumbing Certification.

“Green plumbing” helps the environment by doing one or more of the following:

  • Saving water
  • Saving energy
  • Using environmentally-friendly materials

In the US, LEED Certification is becoming increasingly popular, which means that green plumbing systems are being installed in many new or substantially renovated buildings. But green plumbing improvements don’t have to be big and expensive. In fact, they start at under $20.

Over the course of the next few blog posts, we’ll look at a range of green plumbing upgrades – some that you can do yourself, and others that require professional assistance.

In this first post of our “Green Plumbing” series, we’ll look at the simplest and most affordable green plumbing upgrade you can make: installing low-flow faucet accessories and showerheads.

How do low-flow showerheads and faucet accessories work?

Low-flow showerheads and faucet accessories (often referred to as aerators, which is the most popular type) attach to existing fixtures. Normal-flow showerheads use about six to seven gallons per minute (GPM), and the water comes out at about 80 psi (lbs per square inch, a measure of pressure). Of course, if you try to use less water with a normal showerhead, the stream is flat and insubstantial – a very unsatisfactory shower experience. Low-flow showerheads solve this problem by forcing the water into a narrower opening, which reduces the amount of water that comes out, but maintains the pressure at 80 psi for a nice strong stream. (It’s like partially blocking the end of a hose with your thumb to increase the force of the water coming out – except that low-flow faucets and showerheads reduce the size of the stream only a little, just enough to maintain existing pressure with less water.)

Low-flow faucet accessories work the same way.

There are two different kinds of low-flow faucets and showerheads:

  • Aerating faucet accessories and showerheads mix air into the water stream for steady pressure. The steady stream sensation is very popular with consumers. However, mixing air into the water can lead to a reduction in water temperature, which can be a drawback for showers during the winter months.
  • Non-aerating faucet accessories and showerheads don’t mix air into the water, which results in a pulse-like rather than a steady-state stream. Not everyone likes the pulse effect, but those who do say it feels like a gentle massage. Non-aerating faucet accessories and showerheads maintain water temperature very well.

How can you tell if you need a low-flow faucet or showerhead?

The EPA standard for new residential lavatory (bathroom) faucets is 1.5 GPM (gallons per minute). Your current faucet may have an aerator on it already, and if it does, it will have the GPM stamped on the side. If the GPM of your existing aerator is greater than 1.5, you should upgrade to a new high-efficiency faucet aerator. If you don’t have an aerator, check to see if the inside of your faucet has threads (grooves) for an aerator to be screwed into it. If it does, install an aerator.

If you already have a low-flow showerhead, check the side of the showerhead to see if it has a flow rate of 2.0 GPM (the new EPA standard for showers). If you don’t already have a low-flow showerhead, you can test your shower to see if its flow rate is too high. Put a two-quart saucepan on the floor of the shower and position it in the middle of the shower stream. Turn the shower on at full pressure and count how many seconds it takes to fill the pan. If it takes fewer than 15 seconds, you would probably benefit from a high-efficiency showerhead.

How much water will a high-efficiency faucet or showerhead save?

It depends on how much water your sink or shower used before you installed the upgrade. The only way to know for sure is to check your utility bills over the next few months and compare them to the same time period during the previous year. If you want to feel good about your decision right away, you can get a rough estimate as follows: assume that your current showerhead uses 2.5 GPM (this is a very common flow rate for modern showerheads). A new 1.5 GPM showerhead will make your shower 40% more efficient. Use your utility bill to calculate 20% of your total water usage (this is the amount typically used for showering), then take 40% of that number. Multiply this by your cost-per-gallon, and you’ll have your savings!

How do I find high-efficiency faucet accessories and showerheads?

When you go to your local plumbing supply store, look for the EPA WaterSense label. This is the equivalent of the EnergyStar label, and all products bearing this label meet the new EPA water use guidelines.

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Geothermal – Get It Done Right!!!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

As we wrote in last week’s blog post, everyone at Carney Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is really excited about geothermal energy systems. But…geothermal only works well when it’s installed correctly. If it’s not, then the geothermal system you install could wind up being nothing more than expensive waste of money – and you might even end up using more energy than you did before, not less.

In this blog post, we’ll explain how we make sure that we install geothermal systems properly so that our customers enjoy maximum comfort and savings.

To explain the secret to a successful geothermal installation, first we should explain how geothermal systems work.Arrows and blocks

Although the temperature above the ground can vary widely from summer to winter, the temperature underneath the ground stays fairly constant all year round, thanks to the hot molten rock that underlies the earth’s surface. Depending on latitude, the level of volcanic activity in the area, and the depth at which the geothermal system is installed, the underground temperature can range from 45 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Geothermal systems use underground pipes, called a loop, that circulate fluid in a loop into your house and back under the ground. In the winter, the loop brings heat up from the ground into your house, where it is distributed throughout your house via ductwork. In the summer, the loop pulls the hot air out of your house and discharges it underground.

So, what’s the secret to a successful geothermal installation? The most important thing is to correctly calculate the load (i.e. the number of BTUs the system has to generate to keep the house comfortable). This will ensure that the geothermal loop, and the equipment that keeps the fluid moving in the loop, are properly sized. If a contractor has cut corners by making the loop and the circulation equipment too small, the system will not keep your home comfortable.

At Carney, we receive a couple of calls every month from worried homeowners who are not comfortable with the geothermal systems they’ve had installed by other companies. When a Carney technician goes to check it out, we almost always find that the loop and the equipment are not big enough to properly regulate the temperature of the home. Although the smaller loop may reduce the cost of the initial installation, this is a false savings. A homeowner will have to supplement an improperly functioning geothermal system with other means, or sacrifice comfort – and the home’s overall energy consumption might even go up, not down, as a result! At Carney, we call this “getting geothermal in name only”, and we’re always upset when we see homeowners who’ve had this happen to them.

So how do we make sure this never happens to our customers? We start by making sure that all our technicians are fully trained. In addition to mandatory training, we encourage our technicians to sign up for whatever additional training they want – on us.

We also take great care when we design our geothermal systems – in fact, we probably spend more time on design than we do on actual installation. We do all our load calculations by computer and by hand so that we are sure of our results. And we get as many different minds working on the design as possible – for example, we ask drillers to provide their own independent assessments to make sure they tally with ours.

Our philosophy when it comes to geothermal is, “You cannot cut any corners.” We make sure we don’t – we pay attention to all the details so that when your geothermal system is done, all you have to do is relax and enjoy it!

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Top Ten Reasons to Love Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Here at Carney Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ve been installing geothermal systems for more than a year now. Our entire team is really enthusiastic about them. Our customers rave about the savings and comfort that they get when they upgrade to a geothermal heating and cooling system, and we’re excited to bring this leading-edge technology to the residential consumer.

Geothermal requires an upfront investment, but it’s worth it! Here’s why we love it:

Geothermal offers great green savings for your family!

 

  1. 70% of the energy used by a geothermal system is renewable (using the earth’s own heat). The rest comes from electric power. A geothermal system makes a huge difference in your carbon footprint.
  2. You’ll never buy foreign oil again. In fact, you’ll never buy oil again, period. One of our first geothermal customers had been burning 5-6 tanks of oil a year (1400-1600 gallons). After installing an all-electric geothermal system, not only did he have no more oil bills, but his overall electric bill was reduced too.
  3. Like to buy local? You can’t get more local than geothermal – 70% of your heating and cooling energy comes from right underneath your feet.
  4. You will increase your home’s safety by not storing fossil fuel on the premises.
  5. You’ll be much less affected by volatility in fuel prices. Remember the high oil prices of a couple of years ago? Consumers in southeastern Pennsylvania may soon see a similar increase when local utilities are deregulated in January 2011 – anywhere from 10% to 40%. With a geothermal system, you’ll feel spikes in energy prices much less.
  6. You can get rid of your old, high-maintenance oil-burning heater and replace it with new, long-lasting geothermal equipment that is designed to last for 20 years.
  7. All of our geothermal customers report that they are now more comfortable in their homes.
  8. Geothermal systems are ultra quiet. They’re installed inside (generally in a basement) so there are no noisy outdoor units.
  9. Federal tax credits for conventional heating systems will run out at the end of 2010, but tax credits for geothermal systems will last until 2016. Also, local utilities frequently offer rebates on geothermal systems.
  10. Carney’s offering a $300 discount on all geothermal heat pump systems!

Our own Kevin Carney was recently interviewed on ACHR. Check out the audio podcast to hear more about his experiences with geothermal systems and his commitment to quality geothermal installations:

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