How China’s air conditioning use might affect you

How China's air conditioning use might affect youYou’ve probably never devoted a lot of thought to how your air conditioning use affects the rest of the world. So why should China’s newfound love of air conditioning bother you? The rapid adoption of climate control technologies in China and elsewhere may have a major impact on the world in the coming decades.

Air conditioning in the United States consumes more electricity than anywhere else – 616 TWh annually to be exact. In terms of the number of installed units, however, China far exceeds the US. As of 2016, China had 569 million installed AC units, compared to 374 million units in the US. Unlike the US market for AC (which is stable), the Chinese market for climate control is hot, hot, hot! As consumers in the country install more units, the demand for electricity will rise significantly. China will soon overtake the US in terms of its AC energy demands.

Globally, air conditioning consumes about 10% of all electricity produced today. Global electricity production will have to increase to meet the demand for air conditioning in emerging markets.

How you can help reduce electricity demand for air conditioning

So what does this all mean for us? In short, current methods of electricity production tend to increase atmospheric CO2 levels. To offset the growing demand for electricity, both power production and power consumption must become much more efficient.

One recommendation by the International Energy Agency is to encourage the installation of more energy-efficient air conditioning units. One reason the US currently consumes more energy on air conditioning is the large number of inefficient units still in service. Reducing the number of low-efficiency units in operation will reduce energy consumption, along with the need to produce more electricity.

Today’s high-efficiency air conditioning units offer a lot of environmental benefits. New AC units use more environmentally friendly refrigerants, take up less space, use less electricity and operate more quietly. Lower electricity usage means lower operating costs without sacrificing comfort.

Currently MassSave is offering a rebate of between $250-$500 on new central air conditioning and heat pump installations. The amount of the rebate depends upon the efficiency of the new equipment. You can qualify for a rebate of up to a $1,000 if you retire a working unit manufactured before 2007.

It’s not too late to take advantage of these exceptional incentives to install or replace your AC unit. Contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911 for more information on these great rebate options.

Photo Credit: Darren Poon, via Flickr

A Dandelion in your lawn might not be a bad thing…

A Dandelion in your lawn might not be a bad thing…No homeowner welcomes the sight of a dandelion in the lawn. Google spin-off, Dandelion, aims to change the way you think about having a dandelion – or more precisely – a Dandelion buried underneath your lawn. And the company is hoping that their Dandelion geothermal heat pump spreads like dandelions, especially in states like Massachusetts.

Dandelion announced earlier this year that it was bringing an affordable geothermal heating and cooling system to market. The systems aren’t available yet in the Boston area, but the company says it will offer a $20,000 heating and cooling unit soon.

If $20,000 sounds like a lot of money, it is. But consider that a geothermal heat pump could set you back a cool $100,000 less than a decade ago. The significant price drop can put geothermal heating into the reach of many homeowners, especially with rebates and incentives.

The company hopes to replace a lot of Massachusetts’ 800,000 residential heating oil and propane heat systems. Geothermal systems are 3 to 5 times more efficient than oil heat in terms of operating costs. In addition to reducing costs, the systems are more environmentally friendly.

How do geothermal and ductless heating and cooling differ?

Like an air source heat pump, geothermal systems provide both heating and cooling. Geothermal systems require ductwork, however. If your home doesn’t have ductwork (or can’t accommodate ducts), a ductless heating and cooling system may be the better option. Ductless heating and cooling systems offer the same heating and cooling benefits, along with high-efficiency operation.

A geothermal system uses a heat pump and buried pipes to move heat to or from your home. The pipes form a closed loop, and are filled with an antifreeze solution. Ground temperatures below the frost line remain in a relatively stable range between 50°F and 60°F year-round. In the summer, the heat pump transfers heat from the air in your home to the antifreeze solution. It then pumps the heated solution into the closed loop, where the heat dissipates into the earth. In the winter, the system takes the relatively warm solution and combines it with ambient heat to heat your home. Like ductless heating and cooling systems, a geothermal system can operate as a home’s primary or supplemental heat source.

Geothermal and ductless heating and cooling systems offer an economical alternative to more expensive heating methods. Ductless heating and cooling systems are less expensive to install and provide year-round comfort, even in below-zero temperatures.

If you’d like more information about ductless heating and cooling options, or you’d like to consider an oil-to-gas conversion, we’re here to help! Call us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss heating and cooling options that can save money on your utility bills all year!

Photo Credit: Sharon, via Flickr

Dehumidifying your whole house

Dehumidifying your whole houseHumidity plays a major role in the comfort of your space. Not enough humidity can lead to dry skin, irritated sinuses and a constant “cold” feeling. Too much humidity can lead to air quality problems, promote mold growth and leave you feeling sticky.

The ideal humidity for indoor air is 50%. At 50% humidity, the air can still absorb moisture and heat, but it doesn’t leave you feeling cold and clammy, or hot and sticky. Most homeowners don’t attempt to control the humidity in their homes. Unfortunately, that can end up costing you more money, both in the summer and winter, in heating and cooling costs.

You’re much more likely to encounter high humidity in the warmer months. Unfortunately for Boston, the average daily relative humidity hovers between 62% and 72% year-round. That means the relative humidity, left to itself, never quite gets to the ideal 50% mark. Elevated humidity makes it harder to cool down. Even conditioned air can feel “clammy” or moist.

A whole house dehumidifier can reduce your energy costs

A whole house dehumidifier can help reduce the humidity levels in your home. By drying out the air, you can control mold and mildew growth, and spend less on heating and cooling costs. You’ll feel comfortable, even at higher temperatures in the summer, and lower temperatures in the winter.

It’s easy to notice the humidity in a basement, where the temperatures may be cooler. You may not realize, however, that high humidity affects the above-grade levels of your home, too. Your furniture, carpets, bedding – even the walls! – absorb moisture from the air. They’ll discharge the moisture when the humidity level drops, but this cycle can take its toll on your home. Constantly changing humidity levels can damage the paint on your walls, and promote deterioration.

A whole-house dehumidifier can be integrated into your central air conditioning system. By working with your AC unit, the dehumidifier can actually reduce your air conditioning costs and make your home feel more comfortable. A dehumidifier can also work independently if your home does not have a ducted AC system. Centralized dehumidifiers can remove as much as 16-25 gallons of moisture from your home each day. They’re ideal for homes that have a consistent problem with moisture.

One key to reducing the humidity in your home is to reduce the amount of outside air that enters it. Sealing windows, doors and other places where air enters can improve the comfort of your home. It will also lower your heating and cooling costs year-round. Insulating your home can also help prevent outside air from entering your home.

If you’d like more information about a whole house dehumidifier, give us a call at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to explain your options for controlling the humidity in your home.

Photo Credit: Brian Snelson, via Flickr

WaterSense and lowering your water bill

WaterSense and lowering your water bill?WaterSense is a program developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to identify water-efficient products. The EPA first introduced the WaterSense label in 2006, and applied it to toilets and plumbing fixtures. To earn the WaterSense label, a product must use at least 20% less water than the EPA’s baseline fixtures. According to the EPA, Americans have reduced their water consumption by nearly 3 trillion gallons using WaterSense certified products.

The list of WaterSense rated products includes toilets, sink fixtures, toilet valves, flushing urinals, showerheads, irrigation controllers, spray sprinkler bodies and commercial pre-rinse spray valves. The Department continues to develop standards for water-saving products available to residential and commercial customers.

Why is saving water so important? Although water covers the majority of the Earth’s surface, only about 1% of the water on our planet is fresh. By reducing water consumption, we can reduce the amount of energy needed to treat and transport water. We can also save money!

Laundry and showering are the two biggest water consumers in your house today. Conventional toilets can use between 50-70 gallons per day. As a rule of thumb, the average person in the United States uses about 100 gallons of water per day. Reducing consumption by just 20% can save hundreds of dollars in water costs per year.

Being water efficient lowers your water costs

Start saving in the bathroom. Not surprisingly, the bathroom is where you’ll use most of your water. Installing a low-flow toilet, a low-flow showerhead and a water-saving bathroom sink fixture will make a noticeable dent in your water bill. Cutting your shower time to 5-10 minutes can also put money back in your pocket. The latest low-flow toilets perform exceptionally well and use only about a gallon per flush. Keeping your conventional commode – which could use 3.5 gallons or more per use – is literally flushing money down the toilet.

Clean up your laundry. If you have an old, top-loading washing machine, think about replacing it. A new, high-efficiency washing machine uses just about 25% of the water your old top-loader does. If you do 20 loads per week using your old top loader, you’ve used about 1,000 gallons of water. If you do the same 20 loads in a high efficiency washer, you’ve used about 250 gallons of water. A new washing machine will pay for itself in about 2 years, in the form of lower water bills.

Leaks. We have nothing good to say about water leaks. A leaking toilet, faucet or pipe can raise your water bill hundreds of dollars over the course of a month. A leaking or broken shower diverter is another excellent way to throw your money away. We won’t even mention the amount of damage a water leak can cause to your home. Leaks don’t fix themselves. Truthfully, they can only get worse over time. If you have a leak, or suspect one, fixing it immediately should be a high priority. It will save money and prevent more extensive damage to your home.

Outdoor water usage and your water bill

Outdoor watering. If you water your lawn or landscaping, you can find water-saving irrigation products that reduce your water consumption. You can also use rain barrels, which collect water from rainstorms for “free” landscaping irrigation. Use water timers to control usage and make sure your sprinklers are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.

Your swimming pool. If you have a swimming pool, you may also have an automatic pool filler. Evaporation of pool water can seriously increase your water consumption. Keep an eye on your pool filler. If you’re losing a lot of water to evaporation, consider using a pool cover to limit your water loss. Depending upon the size of your pool, they can be a little expensive, but they’ll easily pay for themselves.

If you’d like more information about water-saving toilets, showerheads or faucets, or you have a water leak that needs to go, call us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Whiteland, via Flickr

Yes, you can lower your cooling costs!

Yes, you can lower your cooling costs!Budgeting for electricity can be difficult. Statistically speaking, the lower your household income is, the more you’ll spend on electricity and other utility costs. If that sounds counter-intuitive, it’s not. People with lower household incomes are more likely to hang onto older, less efficient appliances. They’re also more likely to purchase less efficient new appliances. While this strategy lowers your one-time costs, it commits you to spending more on operating costs over the life of the appliance.

Heating, cooling and refrigeration are the three biggest utility consumers in your home. Window air conditioners are among the worst offenders. In a hot month, a window air conditioner can increase your cooling costs by 30%-40%. Two window air conditioners can nearly double your electric bill!

Cooling costs don’t have to break the budget

How can you lower your cooling costs without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips:

Use your window air conditioner wisely. Set limits for using your window air conditioner. Wait until later in the evening to turn on an air conditioner in your bedroom, and turn it off during the day. Use air conditioning overnight only when the low temperature doesn’t drop below 70°F or when the relative humidity is very high.

Use a fan! Residential air conditioners can consume 3.5KW per hour, and a window air conditioner can consume 500-1,500 W per hour. A ceiling fan or a window fan, on the other hand, consume less than 100 W. Some fans may use as little as 15 W. Economically, it makes more sense to use fans under certain conditions. If the nighttime temperatures drop into the 60’s and the humidity is not high, using a fan to draw in cool nighttime air can reduce your cooling costs noticeably. There are a few caveats, however.
If the humidity is high, a fan isn’t going to help much. Wet air isn’t as good at taking heat away from your skin. Worse, your carpets, flooring, walls and furniture will absorb water from the air. This could exacerbate mold and mildew problems, and it won’t feel very good. In soggy conditions, use your cooling system!
Turn the fan off when you’re not around. If you’re not home, leaving a fan on is pointless, unless you’re trying to air something out. Moving air feels good on your skin, but if you’re not at home, the fan is just moving warm air! Turn the fan off when you leave to reduce your cooling costs.

Manage humidity for cool comfort

Use a dehumidifier. Dry air absorbs water. As the humidity rises, the air becomes harder to move, and is less able to cool you down. Showering and cooking can add 3 gallons or more of water to the air in your home daily. Drying out the air again will make you feel cooler. In part, this is what air conditioning does. You can get a similar (but not the same) result by using a dehumidifier. A whole-house dehumidifier will help keep the humidity levels in your home in the comfort zone. You’ll feel better, and your air conditioning will work more efficiently, reducing your cooling costs.

Opt for more efficient appliances. If you must replace your heating and cooling system, choose the most efficient system you can afford. The more efficient your system is, the more money it will save in operating costs over its lifetime. If you buy a lower-cost, low-efficiency system, you’ve committed yourself to higher cooling costs over the long haul.

Consider a high-efficiency, ductless heating and cooling system. A ductless heating and cooling system can operate at a much higher efficiency than conventional air conditioners do. As an added bonus, you can use the system to heat your home, or supplement your heat during the winter. By reducing the use of more expensive heating systems, you can stay comfortable and save money year-round.

If you’d like more information about lowering your cooling costs, contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We can offer a range of options that will fit your budget and reduce your cooling costs!

Photo Credit: Victor, via Flickr

Why it’s not too late for cooling system maintenance

Why it's not too late for cooling system maintenanceSummer is already more than one-third over, but it’s not too late to perform cooling system maintenance. Ideally, you perform maintenance before the summer season begins, so you can maximize the efficiency of your cooling unit. If summer’s gotten ahead of you, it doesn’t mean that you have to sit this season out.

Cooling units can lose efficiency quickly when they become dirty. They can also lose efficiency when their moving parts become worn. Keeping the air filter in your unit clean is one easy way to help your cooling unit work more efficiently. Having a trained technician inspect, clean and rehab your cooling system is another way to maximize your savings.

Cooling system maintenance special offer

Boston Standard Company is offering a $159 precision AC tune-up until August 15, 2018. This is a great opportunity to catch up on cooling system maintenance issues that may prevent your unit from performing at its peak.

Our tune-up special includes a complete system cleaning. This helps ensure that your cooling unit provides superior cooling at the lowest possible cost. We’ll also evaluate the coolant in the system. That means checking for leaks and making sure that your coolant still delivers high-quality cooling as it ages.

Our tune up also includes a complete inspection of your unit’s electrical system. This helps to avoid any nasty surprises that could arise following a Boston winter. We’ll also evaluate the blower motor and belt to ensure trouble-free use during the season.

It’s never too late to start saving money. Even if you didn’t get a pre-season maintenance check done before the warm weather arrived, we can still help! The sooner you commit to a cooling system maintenance plan, the sooner you can start saving.

A high efficiency cooling system will do more for you than keep your home comfortable. Cooling systems will also keep your home drier. That will be a plus this summer; forecasters are predicting a wet second half of the summer for Boston. Keeping your home drier will help avoid conditions that support mold and mildew growth.

A professional AC tune up will help save money, no matter when you choose to have it done. If you would like to take advantage of our $159 AC Tune-Up special, call us at (617) 288-2911 to schedule a visit. Mention HEAT2018 to claim this special price.

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6 ways to stop your toilet from sweating and 1 tip that won’t help

6 ways to stop your toilet from sweating and 1 tip that won't helpA sweating toilet is more than a nuisance. Water from the toilet drips onto the floor and can ruin a bathroom floor in short order. Why does your toilet sweat in the first place, and what can you do to stop it?

The water that collects on your toilet tank is condensation – moisture that’s been pulled out of air in your bathroom. As it turns out, your toilet is a natural dehumidifier. The moisture forms on the surface of the tank because the tank water is colder than the surrounding air temperature. The difference in temperature causes the air to release water and voilà, one sweaty, drippy toilet!

Changing the environment in your bathroom to discourage this process can reduce or eliminate a sweaty toilet. It can also help preserve the condition of your bathroom floor. So what exactly can you do?

How to stop your toilet from sweating

Get rid of the water in your bathroom. First, you can take steps to ensure that the air in your bathroom doesn’t have a whole lot of water in it.

  • Install (or use) an exhaust fan when you take a shower.
  • Take shorter, cooler showers to discourage the migration of water into the air.
  • Dry the shower walls after you’ve taken a shower.
  • Open the door to the bathroom when you finish your shower.
  • Use a portable dehumidifier to dry out the bathroom after a shower.
  • Consider installing a whole-house dehumidifier to keep your entire house comfortable.
  • Don’t open the bathroom window if it’s humid outside. Letting humid air in just makes matters worse.
  • An air conditioner is a great dehumidifier. If you have air conditioning, use it.

Warm up your toilet. Not kidding here! Insulating your toilet tank can prevent water from condensing on the surface. You can line the tank with an insulating kit, or you can cover the entire outside of the tank with a tank cover. If you can prevent the cooler tank from meeting up with the warmer air, condensation won’t occur. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, you can also purchase a new, insulated tank for your toilet.

Warm up the water in the tank. Also not kidding. You can install an anti-sweat valve that mixes a little warm water in with the cold when the tank refills. As long as the water temperature gets close to the air temperature in the room, no sweat!

Reduce the amount of water in the tank. The less water you have in the tank, the less the tank will sweat. Installing a low-flow toilet not only saves water, but also reduces the amount of condensation a tank can generate. If you can combine a low-flow toilet with an insulated tank, your bathroom floor will stay drier.

Get rid of the tank. Some manufacturers make tankless residential toilets. They’re not cheap, and they typically use an electric pump to move water in and out of the toilet. (Pro tip: during a power outage, a tankless electric toilet won’t work.) If you can’t get rid of the tank, consider using a low-profile toilet. The closer your toilet tank is to the floor, the cooler the surrounding air is. (Remember, heat rises.) Keeping your toilet tank on the down-low can help reduce big differences between the bathroom’s air temperature and the toilet tank’s water temperature.

Check the flapper valve. If your flapper valve at the bottom of the tank is leaking, the toilet will regularly take on a lot of fresh, cold water to replace the water that leaked out. If you stop the leak, the water in the tank can reach room temperature.

Use a drip tray. This is the one tip that will do absolutely nothing to prevent your toilet tank from sweating. You can put a drip tray down on the bathroom floor behind the toilet. Your toilet will still sweat like crazy, but the condensation won’t ruin the floor. You’ll have to empty the tray regularly, but we think that beats replacing the floor.

If you would like more information about installing a low-flow toilet, a tankless toilet or an insulated toilet tank, Boston Standard Company can help. We can also help with leaking toilets, and whole house cooling and dehumidifying solutions. (We don’t empty drip trays, though.) Give us a call at (617) 288-2911 to schedule a consultation.

Photo Credit: Edward Dick, via Flickr

Preparing for the worst from hurricane season

Preparing for the worst from hurricane seasonHurricane season typically runs from June 1 to November 1 each year. Hurricanes can form anytime the conditions are right, but summer and fall are considered “prime time” for superstorms. Although many hurricanes fall to the southeast and through the Gulf of Mexico, New England isn’t immune from them. If a hurricane strikes, what should you do to protect your plumbing?

What to do before a hurricane

Shut off the water! If you evacuate, take a moment to shut off the main water valve to your home. You can also open your taps to help drain the pipes. If the storm damages pipes in your home, you can at least minimize any fresh-water flooding.

Check your sump pump. Your sump pump could save your home from serious flooding. Or not. An electric sump pump can’t bail you out if you lose power. If you have a generator, make sure your sump pump makes the list of must-have services. Some sump pumps can work without electricity. If flooding is a serious concern, or you often lose power during storms, consider installing a non-electric sump pump to keep the water moving.

Clear drains. If you have storm drains on or near your property, make sure they’re clear before the storm hits. The storm will bring a lot of debris along with it, and the drains may clog quickly and often. Starting with a clear drain, however, may help clear some early runoff and lessen flooding around your home.

What to do after a hurricane

Check your sump pump! After a storm, make sure your sump pump is still on duty. If it failed, get it replaced as quickly as possible.

Clear debris from storm drains. Keep storm drains clear on and around your property. This allows water to abate more quickly and lessens the likelihood of post-storm flooding. You may have to clear the drains several times following the storm.

Don’t turn your water on immediately. The storm may not have affected your plumbing directly, but the municipal water supply may have been contaminated. Wait until the water authority gives the all-clear to begin using your taps again.

Have your plumbing inspected. Major storms can cause the ground to shift, uproot trees and damage foundations. The added weight of the water also puts enormous pressure on underground pipes. This can cause severe problems for the plumbing inside and outside of your home. Following a hurricane, have your sewer pipe inspected for cracks, breaks and collapses. Also, look for signs of water leaks outside your home, including sinking ground, persistent puddles, and unusual “soft” spots. Leaks can also cause a loss of water pressure, the sound of running water, and cracks in driveways and foundations. New problems with dampness, mildew and mold growth, and high water bills are also symptoms of plumbing damage.

Look for toilet troubles. Hurricanes can dump a lot of dirt and debris into the sewer system, which can cause plumbing performance problems. If your toilets don’t flush as well as they did pre-storm, your sewer connection could be in trouble. The storm could have damaged the municipal sewers, which can set you up for backups and sanitary sewer overflows. If a sewer inspection of your pipes is clear, notify the municipality of your troubles.

One last piece of hurricane advice

Be patient! Plumbers are in high demand following major storms and hurricanes. It’s common for plumbers to be booked 24/7 in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane. Consider signing up for an emergency services contract. This agreement can ensure that you have preferred access to plumbing, heating, and cooling services around the clock.

Contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911 for your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs. We offer emergency service contracts for plumbing, heating, and cooling.

Photo Credit: Adam Pieniazek, via Flickr

Heating, Cooling and Plumbing Product Recalls You Should Know About

Heating, Cooling and Plumbing Product Recalls You Should Know AboutProduct recalls are a fact of life. There are a few residential heating, cooling and plumbing products that currently make the list. Product recalls can be voluntary on the part of the manufacturer. Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the power to issue mandatory recalls. Typically, products make this list because they’re defective, mislabeled, or prone to dangerous misbehavior. If you have one of these products in your home, stop using them immediately!

Heating and Cooling recalls

Goodman Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps. Goodman Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners (PTAC) are marketed under the Amana brand name. The company recalled these air conditioning and heat pump units due to a fire hazard. The outdoor fan unit can overheat, leading to a fire.

According to the recall notice, affected models include those beginning with EKTC15, EKTH15, PMC15, PMH12, PMH15, PTC15, PTH12, PTH15, UCYB15, and UCYH15. The recall affects only units with the first four digits of the serial numbers in the range between 1001 and 1709.You can find the model number and serial number on a label behind the front cover of the unit. The company reports that there have been nine fires in affected units to date, and one case of smoke inhalation. The company sold the affected units between January 2010 and January 2018.

3.5KW and 5.0KW models of the same product were also recalled in 2013 for defective power cords.

General Electric PTAC and dehumidifier units. General Electric has issued recall notices for several PTAC and dehumidifier units. The recall notices date back to 2011-2016 and affect several products. The recall notices provide specific information for identifying affected products.

E-Heat Envi Wall Heaters. E-Heat issued a product recall for a small number of wall mounted heating units in March 2018. The company sold the affected units between July 2015 and August 2016. The affected units may have defective wiring that can cause the unit to overheat, smoke or melt. If you have an affected unit, the company advises you to stop using it immediately and contact them for repair or replacement instructions.

Water Heater and Boiler Recalls

American Standard Water Heaters. A small number of American Standard GSN and GN model water heaters may have a manufacturing defect that improperly seals the flange between the combustion chamber and the burner. The defect could allow outside air into the combustion chamber and poses a fire hazard. Affected GN model units have serial numbers beginning with: F15 / G15 / H15 / J15 / K15 / L15 / M15 / A16 / B16. Affected GSN model numbers have serial numbers beginning with: E15 / F15 / G15 / H15 / J15 / K15 / L15 / M15 / A16 / B16 .

If you have an affected product, please stop using the water heater immediately. Move all flammable materials away from the water heater and call the company at (888) 883-0788 for further instructions.

US Boiler residential boilers. US Boiler issued a product recall for three specific residential boiler models in 2014. The affected boilers could produce excessive carbon monoxide emissions under certain conditions. No injuries have been reported to date. The affected boiler models begin with ESC, SCG or PVG. If you believe you have an affected boiler, please contact the company for further instructions. The company also advises that you install a working carbon monoxide detector near all sleeping areas in your home.

Thermostat recall

White-Rodgers Thermostats. White-Rodgers recalled about 750,000 thermostats manufactured between 2006 and 2013 under a variety of brand names, including: COMFORTSENTRY, DICO, Emerson, Frigidaire, GemStat, Geocomfort, Hydron, Maytag, Module, Nutone, Partners Choice, Rheem, Ruud, Sears, Tetco, Unico, Water Furnace, Westinghouse, White-Rodgers or Zonefirst. Consumers may have purchased the thermostats from hardware or home improvement stores. Additionally, the thermostats may have been installed by heating and cooling contractors as part of a system replacement or upgrade. Alkaline batteries included with the thermostat could leak and damage the unit, leading to a fire. The company has received seven reports of burn damage to the unit, with no injuries reported.

It’s important to act on product recalls as quickly as possible to protect yourself and your family from injury or loss. If you’d like more information on heating and cooling products, water heaters or boilers, please contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss a range of options for your home.

Photo Credit: Goodman

Eco-friendly residential plumbing solutions

Eco-friendly residential plumbing solutionsMore homeowners have made caring for the environment a priority. Growing evidence suggests that what we put down the drain and how we consume water have a noticeable impact on future water quality. Just over a year ago, for example, the federal government banned the use of microbeads in products that get washed down the drain. Microbeads are tiny plastic fragments that used in personal care products like shampoos, lotions, and soaps. Manufacturers also used them in whitening toothpaste products. Microbeads pose an environmental hazard for fish and other aquatic life.

While federal and state governments work to preserve or improve water quality, you can also protect your local water supply. Here are a few ways to incorporate eco-friendly residential plumbing solutions and habits into your daily routine. Besides protecting the environment, these ideas can also help you lower your water bill!

Environmentally friendly drain care

Drain cleaners. To be frank, drains are gross. They typically contain a soup of water, soap, organic materials, and organisms that thrive in your dark, wet drains. Clogs occur when these items combine and prevent water from moving freely through the drain. It’s tempting to pour boiling water down the drain or use a harsh drain cleaner to burn out the clog. Drain cleaners aren’t eco-friendly! In addition to burning out the clog, they kill helpful bacteria and pollute the water. They can also damage your drains, leading to expensive repairs. Worse, they can deliver serious chemical burns if gas in the drain forces the drain cleaner backwards in the pipe.

Eco-friendly drain cleaners like BioClean use enzymes to eat the material that grows in your drains. These enzymes are highly effective at removing clogs, clearing drains, and cleaning up natural organic growth. They don’t damage your pipes and won’t burn you if they contact your skin. They also won’t harm the environment, contaminate the water supply, or reduce water quality. They’re easy to use, too. Simply pour the cleaner into the drain and let it work overnight. In the morning, you’ll have a clog-free drain. You can also clear a drain mechanically, using a plumbing snake or plunger. Be aware, however, that a plunger might simply push the clog further down the line.

Soap. Phosphates, a common ingredient in soaps, can damage the environment and reduce water quality. Look for phosphate-free soaps to ensure that your wastewater doesn’t damage the environment. If you use powdered soap, consider switching to a liquid version. Powdered soaps dissolve easily in water, but they can reconstitute in a rock-hard form deep in your drains. The accumulated hardened residue can cause a nasty, whole-house backup if it closes off your main drain.

Environmentally friendly water fixtures

Reducing your water consumption is probably the best way to save the environment. Here are a few ways to tame a wild water bill.

Laundry. Older top-load washers use about 50 gallons per load. Switch to a water-saving front-loader and reduce your laundry water usage by about 75%. Using less water deals double-damage to the water bill because water usage often determines sewer charges. Your new washer will pay for itself in about two years.

Low-flow shower heads. A low-flow shower head can limit your water usage to 1.75 gallons per minute or less. Some shower heads also come with a button that cuts flow to a trickle while you’re soaping up. Combine a low-flow shower head with a shower timer to maximize your water savings.

Low flow faucets. Kitchen and bathroom faucets that restrict water flow to 1.5 gallons-per-minute can also help you chop down an overgrown water bill. Faucets account for about 15% of your home’s water usage, so they offer another opportunity to save. If new faucets aren’t in the budget, spend a couple of bucks to add an aerator to your existing fixture. These little attachments screw on to the threaded end of your faucet and cut consumption by about half! That’s a pretty good return for pocket-change.

Low-flow toilets. Low-flow toilet technology is constantly evolving, and the latest models offer excellent performance and deliver on savings. You’ll spend more up-front to acquire a low-flow toilet, but you’ll recover your investment each time you pay your water bill!

If you’d like more information about water-saving fixtures or environmentally friendly plumbing products, contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss your options and recommend eco-friendly and water-saving products.

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo, via Flickr