Boston DIY Plumbing Workshop

Plumbing and heating are two of your home’s most important systems. When they don’t work correctly, they can jeopardize the comfort and safety of your home. The good news is that homeowners can manage many common problems that can arise with heating and plumbing systems, thanks to an excellent DIY plumbing workshop coming up this weekend.

Plumbing and Heating Workshop


Joseph Wood, owner of Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating will be on hand to deliver a great classroom-style DIY plumbing workshop designed just for homeowners who want to know how to maintain and repair issues like plumbing leaks and drain clogs, and perform routine maintenance on heating systems.

In addition to repair and maintenance tips, Joseph will share advice for homeowners who want to reduce their water consumption without sacrificing performance. He will also address questions and concerns about pipes and pipe replacement, heating and cooling system replacement, rebates and incentives for system improvements, and offer preventative maintenance strategies. Joseph will also show attendees how to spot more serious plumbing and heating issues that require professional attention.

The DIY plumbing workshop is also a great opportunity for anyone who’s considering a career in plumbing or heating and cooling. The next decade will see tremendous growth in employment for trained, licensed plumbers and heating and cooling professionals. As an apprentice, you’ll begin working immediately and developing the skills you’ll need to earn your plumbing license.

Joseph has been working in plumbing, heating and cooling for more than 20 years, and owns Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating in Dorchester. Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating has been recognized annually since 2010 with an Angie’s List Super Service Award. Boston Standard has also been recognized by the Better Business Bureau and the Best of Boston for its outstanding service.

The DIY plumbing workshop takes place Saturday, November 5 from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM at Boston Building Resources, 100 Terrace Street in Boston. Please visit the Boston Building Resources website to register for this workshop. The registration cost is $25. We hope to see you there!

Photo Credit: clement127, via Flickr.com

Heat Pump Water Heater Rebates and Credits

If you’re thinking about replacing your electric water heater, now is a great time to take advantage of an excellent rebate opportunity from MassSave. If you install a qualifying heat pump water heater and you receive your electrical service from a MassSave program sponsor, you can take advantage of a $750 rebate.

Until December 31, 2016, you can also take advantage of a federal income tax credit of $300 on your heat pump water heater purchase. That means you can reduce the cost of installation of a heat pump water heater by $1,000 just by acting right now.

Heat pump water heaters keep saving

The savings don’t stop there. A heat pump water heater can reduce your annual energy spending by more than $300! There’s no reason not to take advantage of this exceptional rebate-and-credit offer.

Heat pump water heaters aren’t appropriate for every space because they extract heat from the surrounding air. Heat pump water heaters work best in spaces that remain at a temperature of 50° F or higher. They also need about 750 square feet of space to work. Heat pump water heaters aren’t approved for use in utility closets, even if the closet has a louvered door.

Worried about not having enough hot water on a cold winter morning? Most heat pump water heaters are hybrid devices. They work first as a heat pump, but have an electric backup system to ensure that your hot water is always hot!

If you’d like more information about heat pump water heaters, this excellent rebate opportunity through MassSave, or you’re trying to figure out whether a heat pump water heater is a good choice for your home, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 to schedule a consultation. This rebate program and the associated tax credit are both time limited offers, so don’t wait!

Photo Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, via Flickr.com

Should you invest in a WiFi thermostat?

WiFi thermostats have been gaining ground in the US marketplace for a few years. Today, many manufacturers offer WiFi enabled options for controlling the temperature in your home. Is now the time to invest in a WiFi thermostat?

Choosing a WiFi thermostat

Nest Labs has received a lot of attention for its Wi-Fi thermostat, but Nest, which was founded in 2010, isn’t actually the first WiFi enable thermostat on the market. That honor goes to Ecobee, a Toronto company that was founded in 2007. Ecobee is now on its third-generation device.

Aside from Ecobee and Nest, Honeywell, Trane, Schneider Electric, Lux/Geo, Emerson, Aprilaire, Venstar and a host of others offer WiFi enabled thermostats. Generally speaking, WiFi thermostats – when used properly – can reduce your energy expenditures by about 20%-25%. Since heating and cooling account for the majority of a home’s energy consumption, it’s fair to say that you can realize significant savings using a WiFi thermostat. How much you save will depend upon how much you consume.

If you’re purchasing a new heating and cooling system, chances are good that the manufacturer makes a WiFi enabled thermostat. Going with a thermostat that’s made by the manufacturer of your equipment virtually eliminates the issue of compatibility.

If you’re going with an after-market product, you’ll need to do a little research on your candidates to verify that a particular product works with your heating and cooling equipment. You may need additional wiring to support WiFi operation. You’ll also need to verify that a product is compatible with your household wireless router. Finally, you’ll want to know that the product you select works with the mobile devices you use. iOS is the most popular mobile platform, followed by Android. Windows is less popular, so if you carry a Windows phone or a Windows mobile device, you will want to make sure a compatible app is available so you can control your thermostat while you’re away.

If you’re good with technology, WiFi thermostat installation can be a do-it-yourself project. If you’re not good with technology, or your system needs additional wiring to support the thermostat, you may want to go with professional installation and setup.

Right now, customers of Eversource, National Grid, Columbia Gas, Liberty Utilities and Berkshire Gas can purchase certain WiFi thermostats at a discount through the MassSave program and have them professionally installed at no cost! In addition, you may be eligible for rebates of up to $100 on WiFi thermostats not available through MassSave’s discount purchase program.

If you’d like more information about WiFi thermostats, or would like to have one installed through MassSave, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to help you select a WiFi thermostat that’s right for you, and get it up and running!

Photo Credit: ecobee

Converting from oil to natural gas for Earth Day

If you’re looking for a great way to celebrate Earth Day, consider converting your heating oil furnace or boiler to natural gas. Not only will you save money, but you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by nearly 40%. Aside from coal, no other fuel releases more carbon into the atmosphere. In fact, heating oil releases more carbon into the atmosphere than gasoline does!

Replacing heating equipment that uses fuel oil can also save you as much as 50% on your energy expenditures each year. Homeowners can borrow as much as $25,000 in the form of a 7-year, 0% interest loan to finance the cost of replacing a heating system with a new, high-efficiency system. You can finance a fuel conversion with a MassSave loan. This program gives you a great opportunity to make a significant reduction in your home’s carbon emissions, as well as reducing the cost of heating your home in the winter.

If you already have a natural gas furnace or boiler, but it’s an older, less efficient model, there is a different program through MassSave that you can take advantage of. This program, the Early Boiler/Furnace Replacement program, cannot be used to help reduce the cost of a fuel conversion, but it can help reduce the cost of replacing working but inefficient heating equipment.

This program offers rebates of up to $3,500 on the purchase and installation of qualifying heating equipment. For natural gas furnaces that are at least 12 years old but still operational, this program offers a rebate of $1,000 when replaced by a natural gas furnace with an ECM blower and an AFUE (efficiency rating) of at least 95%.

The Early Boiler Replacement program offers rebates of up to $3,000 on a natural gas, forced hot water boiler with an efficiency of at least 90% for owner-occupied properties. The rebate for a rental property is $3,500. Steam boilers with efficiency ratings of at least 82% also qualify for an early replacement rebate of $1,900. With the Early Replacement program, it’s important to remember that your older heating equipment must be in working condition. Working boilers must be at least 30 years old. Working furnaces must be at least 12 years old to qualify for the replacement rebate.

If you’d like more information about converting from heating oil to natural gas, the MassSave 2016 Heat Loan program, or replacing a working furnace or boiler under the MassSave Early Boiler/Furnace Replacement program, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We’ll be happy to conduct the required energy audit and help you choose qualifying, high-efficiency equipment.

Happy Earth Day!

Photo Credit: Sandor Pinter , via FreeImages.com

2016 Heating Equipment Replacement Rebates

MassSave has announced its 2016 Early Heating and Cooling Equipment Replacement rebates! This program provides a rebate incentive to replace WORKING but inefficient residential heating and cooling equipment. Non-working equipment is not eligible for rebates under this program.

To qualify for rebates under this program, a homeowner or landlord must replace a working boiler that is at least 30 years old or a working furnace that is at least 12 years old. Rental properties with up to 4 units qualify for this rebate. Properties with more than 4 units are not eligible to participate.

The rebate program is limited to customers of Berkshire Gas, Blackstone Gas Company, Cape Light Compact, Columbia Gas of MA, Eversource, Liberty Utilities, National Grid and Unitil. Eligible installation dates vary by utility, but most installations must be completed and rebates must be requested by December 31, 2016. Rebates through some utilities expire on October 31, 2016.

The rebate program is not available to customers who want to switch fuel sources. For example, you cannot receive a rebate if you intend to switch from an oil furnace to a natural gas furnace.

Heating oil: Rebates of between $750 and $1,900 are available for the replacement of oil furnaces and boilers, provided the new equipment’s AFUE rating is 86% or higher for furnaces with an ECM blower and forced hot water boilers, and 84% for a steam boiler.

Propane and Natural Gas: Rebates of between $1,000 and $3,500 are available for the replacement of propane or natural gas furnaces and boilers, provided the new equipment’s AFUE rating is 95% or higher for furnaces with an ECM blower, 90% for forced hot water boilers in rental units and owner-occupied single-family residences, and 82% for steam boilers. Fuel source conversions are not eligible.

Electric: Homeowners can take advantage of rebates of between $750 and $1,000 on early replacements for central air conditioners and heat pumps of any age, as long as the replacement central air conditioner is rated with a SEER of at least 16 and an EER of at least 13. Central heat pumps of any age are eligible for a $750 rebate, as long as the replacement heat pump is rated with a SEER of at least 16 and a HSPF of at least 8.5. Central heat pumps of any age are eligible for a $1,000 rebate, as long as the replacement equipment is rated with a SEER of at least 18 and a HSPF of at least 9.6.

If you have older, inefficient but working heating and cooling equipment in your home, the 2016 Early Heating Equipment Replacement rebates offer a great opportunity to replace your system(s) with more efficient ones. You’ll recover the cost of the upgrade more quickly through reduced operating costs, and you’ll be doing your part to help the environment.

If you would like more information about the MassSave Early Heating and Cooling Equipment Rebate program, or would like to schedule a visit, please call us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911.

Photo Credit: Nerijus J., via FreeImages.com

Air Source Heat Pumps Can Save Money

You might be tempted to think about heat pumps as “new” technology. They’re not. The concept of a heat pump was actually described in 1852 by Lord Kelvin, and even that was a refinement of a demonstration of artificial refrigeration – one that took place in 1748! Robert C. Webber developed the idea (and a working prototype) for a ground source heat pump in the late 1940’s, with a little help from his water heater and an accidental encounter with the business end of his freezer. (He burned himself by touching the freezer’s refrigeration line – which was hot!) After re-routing the refrigerant line through his water heater as a test, he built a full-sized heat pump that served his entire home.

There are many different heat pump designs, but they all do the same basic thing – they move heat from one place to another using refrigerants. Although they may have operated on the same basic principles, those basic heat pumps are a far cry from today’s air-source heat pumps. If you have dismissed heat pumps as being too expensive to operate, or not robust enough to make it through a Boston winter, keep reading.

In very basic terms, a heat pump is an air conditioner that operates in reverse, generating heat instead of cool air. A mini-split or ductless system is a reversible system, so it can generate both hot and cold air. When refrigerants are compressed, they heat up. When they’re expanded, they get very cold. By circulating uncompressed (cold) gases, the system can make the refrigerants “absorb” heat. When the system forces the gas to expand, the refrigerant dumps heat.

Early heat pumps used the ground as a heat source, so refrigerant loops were buried in the ground around a house or building. Advances in technology have made air-source heat pumps more efficient and less expensive to install and operate. Today’s heat pumps aren’t like heat pumps that were installed even 10 years ago. New refrigerants are exceptionally efficient because they can compress and decompress much better than older refrigerants. This “supercompression” allows the refrigerants to absorb and transport heat from the air much more readily than ever before.

As an added bonus, air-source heat pumps (think mini-split ductless systems) can operate in both directions. The refrigerant flow is reversible, so when the refrigerant moves in one direction, it delivers heat into a home. Reverse the flow of refrigerant and the refrigerant will absorb heat from the home and dissipate it outdoors.

Air-source heat pumps are electric, so when you install one, your electric bill will rise, but because air source heat pumps are so efficient, the rise in your electric bill will offset the cost of heating your home using another fuel. As an added advantage, you get both heating and cooling in one package without the need to install ductwork – a major source of inefficiency. They’re also incredibly quiet. When they’re operating, the indoor units are acoustically no louder than a whisper.

If you’d like more information about using an air-source heat pump or a ductless mini-split heating and cooling system, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We can schedule a visit and show you how an air-source heat pump can heat and cool your home.

Photo Credit: Stig-Espen Soleng, via FreeImages.com

Tank v Tankless: Water Heaters Come Full Circle

If you’re like most people, you only think about hot water when you want it and don’t have it. On-demand hot water has only been around for about 120 years. Before that, people didn’t shower much; they bathed – and they didn’t bathe often. When they did, they brought heated water to the tub and then added cold water to get the right temperature.

During the 20th century, domestic hot water became a standard, and that’s pretty much where we are. Today, debates about hot water ask the question, “Tank or tankless?” The vast majority of domestic hot water today comes from a tank storage system, but the earliest water heaters were invariably tankless. (In fact, some were even portable!) So we’ve come full-circle on domestic hot water, and we’re still asking, “Tank or tankless?”

Team Tank
Storage tank water heaters are relatively cheap, easy to find and relatively easy to install or fix. Compared to other water heating techniques (like electricity), gas water heaters are also reasonably efficient. The design of a water tank hasn’t changed much, but newer tanks have more insulation and safety features like pressure relief valves. Storage tank water heaters can discharge about 7-10 gallons per minute of hot water, so you can shower, launder and wash your dishes simultaneously.

On the minus side, water tank storage systems use a lot of energy, and their efficiency is limited by design. Once the tank is empty, you’ll need to wait as long as an hour for more hot water.

Worse, the tanks themselves are pretty much designed to fail every 6-10 years. Some early storage water heaters had replaceable tanks. Others were made of non-corroding alloys. (75 years later, a few of these tanks are still in service.) If you’re on Team Tank you’ll be buying a new one about once every decade.

Team Tankless
Tankless water heaters have more recently made their grand return to the market. They eliminate many of the storage water tank’s faults. Some gas models are up to 98% efficient, and they’re designed to last for about 25 years. You can take advantage of tax credits and rebates that storage tank water systems don’t qualify for, and a tankless hot water system may even help sell your home!

As long as you are scrupulously honest with yourself about your hot water needs, you can have “endless” hot water. Good tankless water heaters can crank out about 4-5 gallons per minute of hot water. That’s enough for a shower, but you won’t also be able to do the dishes and the laundry at the same time. You may have to choose how and when you use hot water. (The prospect of a cold shower should make the choice easy.)

On Team Tankless, your hot water can be “endless” as long as the electricity stays on. The cold truth about tankless hot water systems is that even the gas-fired ones use some electricity. When your power goes out, your hot water goes out with it. You’ll also pay more up front for a tankless system.

So again, which is it – tank or tankless? If you need an instant solution because your tank is broken, Team Tank is calling. They’re fast, relatively cheap and you can have them in a couple of hours.

If you can replace your hot water system on your schedule and you can afford to get a system that’s large enough to accommodate your hot water demands, you should at least consider a tankless system. They’re more energy-efficient, last 2-3 times longer than a tank, take up less room, and cost less to operate over their lifetimes. In the long run, the additional money you spend up front on a tankless system (and then some) will come back to you in the form of lower energy bills.

If you’d like more information about water heaters or tankless hot water systems, give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can help you figure out which option is best for you!

Photo Credit: Svilen Milev, via FreeImages.com

Angie’s List Recognizes Boston Standard Company again!

We’re pleased to announce that Boston Standard Company has been recognized by Angie’s List with a Super Service Award for the 6th consecutive year! Angie’s List is a members-only organization where subscribers rate and review a wide range of service providers. The top 5% of service providers on the list each year are given a Super Service designation.

As always, we want to thank all of our customers, and especially those who took the time to review us. Your feedback helps your neighbors and friends learn about the good work we’re doing at Boston Standard Company. We wouldn’t receive recognition like this without you. We also want to recognize all of our dedicated employees, who make Boston Standard Company stand out from the crowd every single day.

What makes Boston Standard Company so different? We always put the customer first. As much as we would like it, we know that our customers aren’t calling to invite us over for a cup of tea. They’re usually up to their elbows in something unpleasant when our phone rings! We spring into action immediately – whether you’re having a meltdown in July, or you’re playing hockey in your basement – we’re always ready to help.

We can service most makes and models of heating and cooling equipment, and we’re ready to tackle any plumbing problem you can throw at us. We’re also a great resource when you’re planning your next upgrade, or you want to modernize the equipment in your home.

Call us for a consultation on a replacement boiler, furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Need a new water heater? We can help with that, too! We can also show you how to save money year-round on your plumbing, heating and cooling by choosing the most efficient models.

We know that replacing a major system in your home is a big decision, often with a big price tag. You want to make sure you get the right equipment for your home and your budget. We’ll help you take advantage of rebates, tax breaks and incentives on your purchases, and we can also help with financing, too!

If you’d like to see Boston Standard Company in action, give us a call at (617) 288-2911. We offer true 24-hour emergency service for those truly memorable moments, and scheduled service for repairs, upgrades and consultations.

Thanks again for all of your great feedback and Happy 2016 from Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating.

CoolSmart Program Changes Head Up 2016

There are some exciting changes to the CoolSmart program for 2016! CoolSmart provides rebates and other assistance to certain utility customers to help them save energy, and lower the cost of replacing older, less efficient HVAC equipment in their homes.

Name change:The first change to the program is a name change. Beginning January 1, 2016, the CoolSmart program will be known as the MassSave Heating & Cooling program. You’ll still get great program benefits in an easy-to-understand program, but the name change reflects the fact that the program offers more than just cooling rebates.

New QIV program requirements: The Quality Installation & Verification (QIV) program is a training certification provided by the CoolSmart program for participating contractors. To take advantage of program rebates, consumers must work with a QIV-certified contractor, like Boston Standard Company. The program requires contractors to attend training sessions to help ensure that new equipment is installed to achieve maximum efficiency. Changes to the QIV program help to ensure that all participating contractors are ready to provide the highest quality installation services, and help customers achieve peak heating and cooling efficiency.

Early AC/Heat Pump Replacement Program: These programs will now be available year-round. This allows consumers to maximize their program rebates and take advantage of off-season discounts on program-eligible heating and cooling equipment. The Early Replacement programs require consumers to retire older, working heating and cooling equipment in order to claim program rebates.

Streamlined forms: Recent, credible research has shown that no one likes to do paperwork, so the MassSave Heating & Cooling programs will be replacing the standard 6-page rebate request forms for Central AC, Heat Pump Water Heater and Mini Split Heat Pump rebates with a simple, 1-page form.
Rebate amounts for 2016: The following rebates will be offered for 2016.

Central AC
16 SEER, 13 EER/$250
Central Heat Pump
16 SEER, 8.5 HSPF/$250
18 SEER, 9.6 HSPF/$500
Mini-Split Heat Pump
18 SEER, 9 HSPF/$250
20 SEER, 11 HSPF/$500
Early AC Replacement
16 SEER, 13 EERm$750
Early Heat Pump Replacement
16 SEER, 8.5 HSPF/$750
18 SEER, 9.6 HSPF/$1,000
Heat Pump Water Heater
< 55 Gallons/$750

If you’d like more information about CoolSmart/MassSave Heating & Cooling Program rebates, the QIV program, or ways you can make your home more efficient and save money at the same time, please call us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 to set up a consultation.

Photo Credit: AAP Deluxe, via FreeImages.com

How We’re Spending Our Summer!

How We're Spending Our Summer!

How We’re Spending Our Summer!

It’s summer and we’ve been hopping at Boston Standard Company! We’re proud to announce that we’re sponsoring Men of Boston Cook for Women’s Health. This amazing organization raises funds and awareness to improve women’s health in our community.

Men of Boston will be having a supremely tasty fundraiser on Thursday, October 1 at 6:00 PM at its annual Under the Tent Gala at the Codman Square Health Center at 637 Washington Street in Dorchester. All proceeds go to benefit local women’s health programming. If you would like more information, or would like to join us under the tent, please contact Scotland Huber at (617) 822-8734 for tickets or more information. Since 1995, Men of Boston has raised more than $2 million in support of women’s health.

We also sponsored the All Dorchester Sports League this summer, and helped raise funds to repair and rehabilitate the facilities and bleachers. Regardless of your favorite sports, ADSL has something for you! ADSL sponsors baseball, softball and basketball programs, and also offers fitness classes for kids of all ages, along with tutoring and homework help programs for kids between the ages of 10 and 18! Check out the ADSL at http://www.alldorchestersports.org/.

We had so much fun sponsoring the Franklin Park Zoo last year that we did it again this year. This year, Boston Standard Company sponsored the dwarf crocodile exhibit. We find a lot of things in the sewers around Boston, but thankfully, we’ve never run across any of these guys! The West African Dwarf Crocodile only grows to about 5 feet in length, and they’re slow movers, but they’ve got plenty of time – they have a life expectancy of up to 100 years! You can find this guy in the Tropical Forest exhibit at the Franklin Park Zoo.

With all of these great projects, you may be wondering whether we’ve gotten any work done. Well, we’re glad you asked! Check out our latest “rough” work on a great new coffee shop near South Station. Gracenote Coffee is an independently owned 200 square-foot espresso and coffee bar serving locally roasted in Boston’s Historic Leather District. We’re happy to say that we did the plumbing work for their compact new kitchen, and B. Haley Designs did the design work, so raise a cup to this fabulous space when you stop and pay them a visit!

For more information about what we’ve been up to, or to get some plumbing work done on your own fabulous space, contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime.
Photos: B. Hayley Designs