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Changing your habits can save money on energy bills*

Changing your habits can save money on energy bills*

*Your mileage may vary.

A recent study by researchers at the Australian National University showed that behavior has the potential to save 10%-25% on residential energy costs. Saving 10%-25% on energy costs sounds good, especially since the average Massachusetts household spends more than $2,500 on energy costs each year. That means optimizing your energy consumption could reduce your energy bills by $250-$625 per year.

Now, for the bad news. Another equally relevant Israeli study showed that providing people with a lot of personalized energy consumption data had no positive effect on their behavior.

At all.

In fact, study participants who had been given very detailed information about their energy consumption actually used more energy than those who just received general tips on how to reduce their utility bills. Those with the most information about their specific energy habits could have easily spotted costly consumption behaviors. Yet, the exact opposite outcome occurred, even after adjusting for external factors like weather changes and weather extremes.

It’s easy to focus on the “save money on energy bills” part of the headline here (especially when $625 is at stake), but it is harder to succeed at the “changing your habits” stuff. So, if knowledge can’t help you when it comes to changing your energy consumption patterns, is there a strategy that can work?

How to lower your energy bills

“Automating” energy-saving habits is one way to change your actual energy consumption. That would include using a programmable thermostat- which won’t forget to turn the heat or A/C down. Motion-sensing light switches and timers also ensure that the lights get turned off when they’re not in use. Today, lighting won’t account for much of your home’s electric bill, as long as you have switched to LED bulbs. (If you haven’t, switch!)

Another major behavior change involves your buying habits. When you have to replace an appliance, look for EnergyStar-compliant models. Likewise, using WaterSense-compliant faucets, showerheads and appliances can reduce your water consumption significantly. These appliances and fixtures will cost more up-front, but they will quickly repay you in the form of lowered operating costs. You may also need to reconsider replacing appliances that still work well, but consume a lot of energy. This situation can happen easily with freezers and refrigerators. By replacing energy-hogging major appliances even though they may still work, you can reduce your utility bill significantly.

Take the time to seal the drafts and gaps in your home’s “thermal envelope.” Improperly insulated and sealed gaps can leak a lot of air into (and out of) your home. Closing these gaps will reduce your winter heating bill and your summer cooling bill.

Consider using fans to cool your home at night. Typically, the temperature drops after the sun sets. Bringing naturally cooled air into your home with fans can reduce the temperature and save money. But there’s a big caveat here. The humidity is a major factor. If the humidity is high, you’re better off leaving cool-but-wet air outside. You’ll ultimately spend less to cool the drier air that’s already in your home.

Your heating and cooling equipment consume most of your energy

Finally, take the time to understand how much your heating and cooling systems actually cost to operate. It’s very tempting to let an older, less efficient system run. A new, high efficiency replacement could pay for itself in just a few years through sharply reduced operating costs. A newer, high-efficiency system can help you lock in savings, while your older less efficient model locks in your expenses.

If you’d like more information about reducing your heating and cooling costs, give us a call at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to show you how you can take advantage of rebates and tax incentives to lower your energy consumption affordably.

Photo Credit: Nan Palmero, via Flickr

Chimney liners – What you need to know

Chimney liners – What you need to know

If you’re planning to install a high-efficiency furnace, one likely item on your to-do list will be to line your chimney. Chimney liners aren’t just a good idea – they’re required to help maintain the proper performance of your chimney.

Gas-fired appliances need to vent to the outside to avoid a build-up of carbon monoxide. In the past, gas furnaces and water heaters used the home’s chimney to provide adequate ventilation. Newer, high efficiency furnaces may vent out the side of the home’s foundation rather than up the chimney. If they use the chimney for ventilation, the chimney as built may be too big to work properly with a newer gas furnace.

If you plan to vent any appliances through the chimney, a chimney liner may be in order. There are three good reasons to line an existing chimney. First, unlined chimneys actually constitute a serious fire hazard. Studies have shown that heat moves through (not up) an unlined chimney rapidly. This means the chimney can transfer heat from the masonry to adjacent woodwork inside the home. In National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tests, an unlined chimney caused adjacent woodwork to ignite in less than 3.5 hours! In fact, the standards folks at NIST called unlined chimneys “little less than criminal.” Those are some pretty harsh words, but they can give you a lot to think about. If your chimney is unlined (which would be common for an older home), you may want to invest in a chimney liner even if you don’t intend to replace the appliances that use your chimney.

The second reason to line a chimney is to protect it from your appliances. Combustion is a messy process. It can leave behind some caustic by-products that won’t do your chimney any favors. Over time, these caustic chemicals can eat away at the brick, as well as the mortar that holds your chimney together. Which brings us right back to Reason #1 to line your chimney. If the mortar inside your chimney deteriorates, the chimney will become even better at transferring heat to the surrounding structures. This naturally increases the risk of fire. A liner can both slow and reduce the transfer of heat to nearby structures, decreasing the risk of fire.

The third reason to line your chimney is to ensure that it drafts properly. A chimney is like a big straw that draws exhaust gas from your home. It also drafts air into your home, which your gas-fired appliances need. Big chimneys don’t draft well. A chimney that’s exceptionally large might draft either ineffectively or perhaps not at all. That could cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home. A chimney liner can help size your chimney properly for your appliances and help ensure that your home and appliances are vented properly.

Most chimney liners are made from one of three materials: clay, metal or resin. Clay tiles are the most common type of chimney liner. While they’re the least expensive way to line a chimney, they may not perform well in adverse conditions. (“Adverse conditions” = chimney fire.) They also might not work well with new, high-efficiency gas fired equipment.

Metal liners are usually made from stainless steel or aluminum. Aluminum liners don’t perform as well as stainless steel liners do. In fact, they’re not recommended for high-efficiency applications. Stainless steel performs very well, but it can be expensive. Finally, you can choose a custom-fit resin liner for your chimney. A resin liner is “built in place” and form fits to your chimney. It is lightweight, resist etching and reduce heat transfer. They can also help improve the structural integrity of your existing chimney. Resin liners are permanent and they work well with all fuel types.

An alternative to lining your chimney is to vent your furnace, water heater, boiler and other appliances directly through the foundation wall of your home. This strategy will enable you to abandon your chimney altogether. You can leave an abandoned chimney in place, provided that you cap the holes previously used by your equipment. You may also want to cap the chimney at the top to prevent water, animals and other undesirables from entering the chimney. Before you abandon your chimney, you may want to have it inspected by a professional. If your chimney is in dangerous condition, it may be worth your while to either stabilize it or deconstruct it altogether.

While we don’t do chimney lining, we can recommend chimney professionals as part of a heating or water heater replacement project. Give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to set up a consultation!

Photo Credit: Ben Freeman, via Flickr.com

Heating options for your home

Heating options for your home

The change of season provides a good opportunity to think about how you heat your home. About half of the homes in Massachusetts use natural gas heat. This is part of a 50-year trend away from using heating oil as a primary fuel source. If you’re thinking about replacing your current heating system, there are a few things to consider.

Your overall heating and cooling objectives.

Do you simply want to update your existing heating and cooling system? Are you trying to reduce your energy consumption? Change your carbon footprint? Switch from one fuel type to another? Add air conditioning? These questions help determine which options best suit your home.

Efficiency.If you have a furnace or boiler that’s more than 30 years old, you’re probably wasting money on heating in the winter. Although some heating systems can last forever, that’s not necessarily a good thing – especially if your die-hard isn’t efficient. Replacing an old system with one that’s more efficient can reduce your carbon output and save money on operating costs, regardless of your fuel type.

Environment. The environment is a consideration for many people. Burning fossil fuels of any kind releases carbon into the atmosphere. Electricity is “clean” from the user’s perspective, but if it comes from a power plant that burns coal, that’s not a big win. Switching from fuel oil to natural gas can reduce (but not eliminate) your home’s carbon footprint. It can also eliminate the possibility of fuel oil spills in and around your home.

Very few homes in Massachusetts rely on wood for primary heat, but wood is carbon-neutral. Burning wood releases the same amount of carbon that the tree would release if it were rotting instead. Further, trees – which sequester carbon -are renewable resources. If you cut down a tree, but replace it with another tree, you’ve (at least in theory) provided a new carbon trap.

While wood is carbon-neutral, it’s not particulate-neutral. Burning wood releases waste particles (smoke, ash, creosote, etc.) into your chimney and into the air. Some communities are trying to limit the use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces to improve air quality. Wood burning also increases the risk of an accidental fire.

Other “clean” energy resources include solar and wind power, but most homes have limits to how much power they can produce independently.

Fuel types.

More than any other factor, your choice of fuel will determine your lifetime operating costs. The price of natural gas has been relatively stable, so homeowners who heat with gas have enjoyed significant cost savings. Some homeowners are giving electric heat a second look, thanks to massive improvements in efficiency. If your concept of electric heat involves baseboard or space heaters, you haven’t been keeping up with the times! Mini-split ductless systems have become highly efficient and can produce enough heat to keep your home comfortable in winter. In addition, these systems can provide cooling during the summer months. They’re ideal as a primary or supplementary system in homes that don’t have ductwork, and they make zone heating easy. In other words, a ductless mini-split could make a nice case for itself among homeowners wondering what to do about their old boilers. The good thing about mini-splits is that they don’t have to replace your existing heating equipment. You could use a mini-split as a primary heat system but leave the boiler in place as a backup.

Regardless of your current heating and cooling plan, there are a number of energy-efficient options available to you. If you’re interested in learning more about the heating and cooling options available for your home, give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating at (617) 288-2911 for a consultation. We can show you how you can meet your heating and cooling objectives.

Photo Credit: National Renewable Energy Lab, via Flickr

Is this the year for an oil-to-gas conversion?

Is this the year for an oil-to-gas conversion?

Nearly one-third of homes in Massachusetts use heating oil as their primary heating fuel. Historically, the price of heating oil has been hard to predict. For most of the 1990’s, each gallon of fuel oil cost about $1. In 1999, the price of heating oil began to rise significantly. It peaked in 2014 at more than $4 per gallon. Today, the price of a gallon of heating oil is about $3.25.

The variability of heating oil pricing is just one thing that homeowners consider when thinking about an oil-to-gas conversion. Convenience, the cost of conversion, availability and environmental concerns also factor into the decision to hold onto what you have or switch.

The most important consideration in oil-to-gas conversion

The cost of conversion is complex. It’s not simply about the sticker price of a new furnace. Initial costs are only one part of the lifetime costs of a furnace. In addition to your fixed costs, you also need to take into consideration the ongoing costs of operating the furnace.

For example, say a new 80% AFUE heating oil furnace costs $4,000 to purchase and install in an average-sized house. Homeowners paid an average of $1,700 to heat with oil in 2017-18, so we’ll assume an annual operating cost of $1,700. After 15 years, the homeowner will have paid $29,500 for heating with oil.

If the same homeowner installs a 90% efficient gas furnace instead, the expected install cost jumps to $6,000, but the annual operating costs drop to $900. After 15 years, the homeowner will have paid $19,500 for heating with gas. That’s a savings of $10,000 over heating oil.

Fifteen years is a generous lifetime for a high efficiency natural gas furnace. An oil furnaces can last for 30 years or more. So what happens when we calculate the cost of heating over 30 years – the life expectancy of the oil furnace? Keeping the fuel cost constant, the lifetime cost of each furnace looks like this.

The oil furnace, at $4,000, operated over 30 years will cost $55,000. The gas furnace – which gets replaced midway through the 30-year-cycle – will cost $39,570. This assumes that the initial furnace costs $6,000 and the replacement furnace costs $7,500. It also assumes that the second gas furnace takes advantage of technology to operate more efficiently, so the home’s gas consumption drops during the second 15 year-period to $850. Over the lifetime of an oil furnace, a natural gas alternative offers a savings of $15,430 (-28%) over 30 years.

The hidden cost of doing nothing

The example illustrates why keeping old technology might not be a good idea, even if it seemingly “costs nothing to do nothing.” An oil furnace built in 1990 may have been highly efficient by 1990’s standards. But technology improves over time, allowing newer furnaces to become more efficient. If you keep an inefficient furnace for 30 years, you keep that furnace’s inefficiency. You’ll end up paying a significantly higher operating cost for 10, 20 or even 30 years. As the example above shows, that can be a costly mistake.

The real cost consideration for a furnace is not the price tag of buying it and putting it in your home. The real question is how much does a furnace cost to operate over time? You’ll easily spend 2-13 times the furnace’s purchase price on operating costs over its lifetime. When operating efficiency determines the lifetime cost of a furnace, keeping an old, inefficient furnace simply doesn’t make financial sense.

The savings you’ll get from a natural gas replacement for an oil furnace can literally pay for the new furnace in just a few years. And if you set aside the money you’d have otherwise spent on running your older, inefficient oil furnace, you can use that cash to pay for a more efficient replacement gas furnace in 12-15 years. That allows you to continue reaping the benefits of lowered heating costs without having to finance the purchase of a new furnace.

If you’d like more information about oil-to-gas conversion, or you’d like to talk about replacing your older, less efficient furnace, call us at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating at (617) 288-2911 to set up a consultation.

Photo Credit: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, via Flickr

How China's air conditioning use might affect you

How China's air conditioning use might affect you

You’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

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 maintenance

Summer 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.

Photo Credit: Terry Ross, via Flickr

Preparing for the worst from hurricane season

Preparing for the worst from hurricane season

Hurricane 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 About

Product 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 solutions

More 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