Why Should I Invest in Solar Installation?

March 25th, 2015

Solar power has been the source of great debate since its inception. Arguments have raged from company board rooms all the way up to the floor of the senate about whether or not solar energy will be the technology that finally frees us of our reliance on fossil fuels. Though that debate is still going on, one thing is certain: solar energy can absolutely save money at the individual level. If you have never looked into installing solar technology in your home, now is the time to consider it. Let’s take a look at why you should invest in solar installation.

What is Solar Energy?

As you probably already know, solar technology involves harvesting the sun’s thermal energy and using it to power some of the home’s appliances. This is done through the installation of solar panels, either on the roof of the home or adjacent to it. The exact details of solar installation are dependent on the individual home, and will vary. What matters, though, is that solar panels themselves are incredibly resilient. They don’t need to be cleaned more than once every few months. They are built to be resistant to inclement weather, up to and including hail. These are devices that are meant to spend their lifespans outside, and their design reflects that.

How Much Can I Save?

This is usually the first question that people ask when they’re considering investing in solar energy. The answer is: it depends. How much money you save with solar energy will depend largely on the size of the system you install. If you are committed to solar energy, you could actually install a system large enough to cover your home’s entire energy bill. Once the system had paid itself off with savings from the monthly bills, any money it saved after that would go right into your pocket. Over the course of a decade or two, you could save tens of thousands of dollars by eliminating your monthly energy bill.

If you’d like to know more about why you should invest in solar installation, call Sound Heating. We provide professional solar installation throughout Kent, WA.

Common Tankless Water Heater Repairs

March 20th, 2015

Tankless water heaters have garnered quite a bit of popularity recently, mainly for their advantages over traditional storage tank water heaters. Compared to tank water heaters, tankless water heaters are more energy efficient and less likely to cause water damage to the surrounding area by rupturing. However, tankless water heaters are not immune to all problems. They still experience repair needs, of which you should be aware. Let’s take a look at the kinds of repairs tankless water heaters commonly need.

Gas or Electric Problems

Tankless water heaters rely on gas or electricity to heat the water they distribute. Even in gas water heaters, there are still electrical components. If your water heater seems to be having trouble starting, or distributing hot water, it is very often due to a problem with your gas or electrical supply. The specific repair is going to depend on the individual problem. If your gas pressure is too low, it may be because you have a blockage in the gas line or because your meter is maladjusted. If your electric tankless unit is malfunctioning, you could have a short or a burnout somewhere in the circuitry. Either way, you’ll want to contact a professional to have a look at your system.

Lime Scale

Lime scale is the result of hard water leaving mineral deposits on the inner walls of your pipes. In tankless water heaters, this tends to affect the heat exchanger more than anything else. Once the mineral deposits build to a certain point, they begin to restrict the flow of water through the heat exchanger. This can cause an increase in pressure and eventually rupture the pipe, though that is rare. Either way, you’ll want to have your tankless water heater inspected at least once a year to make sure that there isn’t lime scale building up inside it.

Most of the problems that tankless water heaters have to deal with are pretty tame, compared to other water heaters. However, that’s no reason to ignore them. If you suspect that your tankless water heater has a problem, call Sound Heating right away. We service tankless water heaters throughout Bellevue.

Why is there Ice on My Heat Pump?

March 11th, 2015

Finding ice on the outside of your heat pump is not uncommon, especially in cold environments. Most people tend to assume that this indicates a problem with the heat pump. This isn’t necessarily true, though there is a way to tell whether you need to call for heating repair for this. First, let’s take a look at why ice forms on a heat pump in the first place. Then, we’ll tell you how to identify if you need to call a professional or not.

The Cause of Heat Pump Ice

A heat pump works by evaporating refrigerant to absorb thermal energy from the surrounding outside air. It then sends that thermal energy inside to heat the home. There are two effects to evaporating refrigerant in this way. First, the temperature in the surrounding area drops as the thermal energy is siphoned out of the air. Second, condensation begins to form on the heat pump coil and the surrounding casing. The combination of those two effects causes ice to form on the heat pump.

When is Ice on My Heat Pump a Problem?

So, the question remains about when ice on the heat pump is a problem. Well, if left unchecked, the ice will continue to build up until it completely encases the heat pump. This is a problem because it cuts off the supply of thermal energy from the surrounding air, essentially preventing the heat pump from heating the home. Now, the heat pump is designed to address this problem by using a defrost cycle. Basically, the heat pump will periodically reverse the refrigerant flow in the system to melt the ice off the outside unit.

The problem you should be aware of is that the defrost cycle can sometimes malfunction. If this happens, there is nothing to prevent the ice from eventually covering the entire heat pump. So, the best way to tell if you should call a professional for this is to note the amount of ice on the pump. If there’s only a little ice, there’s no reason to worry. If there is a large amount of ice, or the ice is slowly growing over time, you should call a technician to check your defrost cycle.

If your heat pump needs repairs, call Sound Heating. We provide quality heating repair services in Tacoma, WA.

When is it Time for New Solar Panel Installation?

March 4th, 2015

The solar panels on your roof are some of the most extraordinary components of your home. Solar panels can generate enough electricity to power an entire home, yet they don’t have any mechanical parts and require very little maintenance. In some areas, solar panels benefit from a little bit of cleaning from time to time. But in our area, the rain often takes care of this for us. Solar panels are tough and durable, and should last for many years without any trouble.

But the truth is that some sort of trouble may still occur with your solar panels. Be sure to schedule our solar installation service in Lakewood, WA if you experience any trouble or if you suspect damages.

Some Reasons for New Solar Installation

There are only a couple of main reasons to install new solar panels. It’s possible that your panel is damaged to the point that it greatly affects your energy bills. Or perhaps you want new solar installation for even greater energy savings.

  • Panels are cracked or otherwise damaged: Sometimes, a professional may be able to solder a small crack in a panel before it becomes any worse. Actually, your damaged panel may still function just fine, but cracks leave your panel more susceptible to further damage, which is why repairs should be taken care of right away.
  • One broken panel affects them all: If there are multiple panels installed on your property, a single damaged panel may not necessarily have too much of an impact. If you have 5 solar panels, one damaged panel will still allow solar energy to operate at 80% of its original capacity, as long as an electrical current can still run through the rest of them. If one panel cuts off the current to the other interconnected panels, repairs become urgent.
  • You want more solar energy in your home: A final reason to install a new solar panel is if you want more from your solar energy system. Perhaps you already had one or two solar panels installed for your heating or AC system. If this has worked out well, you may consider adding additional panels to power the entire home.

The solar experts at Sound Heating can take care of all of your solar installation needs in Lakewood, WA. Call our trusted team today!

3 Common Solar Repair Issues

February 25th, 2015

Solar technology is being implemented in homes across the country, as more and more homeowners embrace the free and renewable energy it provides. While solar panels are great for cutting down your electric bill, however, they still have their own set of repair issues that occasionally need to be dealt with. Let’s examine some of the repair needs that you need to be aware of when installing solar technology.

Weather Damage

Solar panels are left exposed to the elements by necessity, seeing as how they need to be out in the open to get as much sun as possible. This can become a bit of a problem if you live in areas with common inclement weather, like strong winds or hail. Solar panels are, of course, designed to resist these kinds of eventualities. However, no solar panel is going to fare well if it gets blown off the roof or gets pounded by baseball-sized hailstones throughout the night. Be sure to consult with a professional about the best place to install your solar panels, and what quality glass they’ll need to have to withstand the climate. If your solar panel does become cracked or otherwise damaged by weather, don’t worry. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may just need to have the glass replaced.

Damaged Wiring

Solar panels are pretty sturdy, owing mainly to their design and lack of moving parts. However, they still have vulnerable areas that should be inspected regularly. Wiring is one of those areas. The wires that connect the solar panel to the rest of your system can be exposed to moisture fairly easily, as well as becoming loose due to weather conditions like high winds. While the wires are insulated, any damage to that insulation make it possible for a short to occur in the system. Make a habit of checking your solar wiring regularly to make sure the wiring is in good condition.

Burn Out

Solar systems make use of a number of different parts beyond the panel itself. The solar inverter is responsible for converting solar energy into electricity that the home can use, while batteries store solar energy for use during periods of darkness or cloud cover. These systems are capable of burning out over time. Be sure to inspect them on a regular basis for signs of rust, corrosion, or other damage. If you notice any of these signs, you’ll probably need to have the part replaced.

If your solar module is experiencing problems, call Sound Heating to schedule an appointment. We provide professional solar services throughout Olympia.

Will a Tankless Water Heater Really Save Money?

February 16th, 2015

When it comes to water heaters, one of the biggest questions our Sound Heating specialists get asked is, “will a tankless unit really save me money?” The answer is yes, but it takes some explaining, which we will do below. You can also access direct help with any questions you may have about installing a tankless water heater in your home by making an appointment with one of the experts from Sound Heating.

How the Costs Breakdown

The initial costs of a tankless water heater are typically more expensive than that of a storage tank water heater, but this isn’t where the savings comes in anyway. Where the savings comes in is over time, in the form of less energy usage. Storage water heaters not only use a greater amount of energy, they also lose a greater amount of energy, something known as “standby heat loss”; this type of heat loss can account for up to 30% of the energy a storage tank water heater uses. So how do you determine how a tankless water heater can save you money? First, you take into consideration that a tankless water heater will save you about $100 per year in annual energy costs. Second, you look at the lifespans of a tank water heater versus a tankless water heater: tank water heaters have an average lifespan of 8-12 years while tankless ones have a lifespan of 20. When you multiply $100 by 20 years, that’s a total savings of $2,000. Of course, these numbers represent averages, but it stands to reason that you will save money over the lifespan of your tankless water heater’s life.

Other Tankless Benefits

Money savings is just one benefit a tankless water heater can offer you. Some other benefits include:

  • Endless hot water – because tankless systems provide hot water on demand, you won’t ever have to worry about running out of hot water.
  • Gas or electric options – tankless water heaters can use either gas or electricity for power.
  • Space-saving – tankless water heaters are considerably smaller than storage tank ones, which opens up a lot of room for your home.

If you’ve been looking for a way to save on your energy costs, and a tankless water heater sounds like it may be a fit for your home in Auburn, WA, call Sound Heating today!

Lupercalia: The Origin of St. Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2015

Many people may think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday essentially created by card and gift companies, but the truth is that the holiday has long-standing roots going back to the Roman Empire. The name “Lupercalia” has its origins in the word “lupus”, which means wolf, and the reason for this is that according to Roman pagan religion, the she-wolf Lupa nursed the two orphaned infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

 

The Festival

The Festival of Lupercalia spanned two days each February, from February 13th to 15th. The festival was about fertility and was led by Luperci priests, known as “brothers of the wolf”. The festival was serious with intention (fertility) but was executed as quite a romp for both the priests and citizens of Rome. The process was this: two male goats and a dog were sacrificed at the beginning of the festival by the priests; two young Luperci were then anointed with the blood from the animals, and the hides of the animals were cut into straps. As food and drink flowed, the male priests would run around the city wearing nothing but thongs made from the animal skins, and they also carried a strap from one of the sacrificed animals. The strap was used to strike the palms of Roman women waiting for the priests in the city, as it was believed that being hit with the strap could help with infertility issues and a safe, healthy labor for women who were pregnant.

 

The Transition to St. Valentine’s Day

The Christian influence of the holiday came around the 5th century. The Roman Empire was still strong, but Christianity was rapidly taking hold throughout the world. It is believed that to try and remove the paganism from the holiday, the deaths of two men, supposedly both named Valentine, were added into the mix. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, a law created by Claudius II forbade young men eligible for military service to marry, because Rome wanted a strong army. The two men named Valentine were priests, and married young couples in secret. Both were found out and executed on February 14th, although in separate years. The Church made Valentine a saint (they chose one), and Lupercalia became St. Valentine’s Day.

 

Here’s wishing you and your loved one a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Passive vs. Active Solar Heating

February 5th, 2015

Solar energy has been used for hundreds of years, but better technology over the last few decades has allowed us to harness and use this energy more effectively. However, there are still two choices in how solar energy is harnessed: passive or active. It’s important to understand the difference between the two solar options before you decide to schedule a solar installation service.

Passive Solar

Passive solar is harnessing solar energy without the use of devices. Examples would be a greenhouse, sun-heated stones and solar water collectors. Correct design is critical to the success of passive solar use; things like southern exposure and consistent exposure to the sun are critical to capturing the solar energy. Thermal mass can also be a factor, depending on how you want to use your passive solar. For example, passive solar water collectors need to be placed on the sunny side or roof of any building; height is also necessary so that the heated water can use gravity to flow downward for use. The key to any passive solar use is convection, which is the main way heat moves with using passive solar. With the right attention to detail, passive solar can help cut energy costs in your home.

Active Solar

As you can probably guess, active solar heating involves mechanics. Solar panels, solar hot water tanks and solar electricity are all considered active solar because they need the help of pumps and a medium in order to work. The two mediums used with active solar are fluid (many times this is water) or air. Both mediums are used to facilitate the transfer of the solar energy (heat or electricity) into energy to be used in some capacity for your home. Typically those using air are referred to as “air collectors” and those using a fluid are called “hydronic collectors”. Once installed, active solar systems can reduce your energy usage significantly.

Finding a solar option that best suits your home is something that should be determined with the help of an expert. Since 1989, Sound Heating has been helping customers with energy decisions for their homes, and we can help you, too. If you need more information regarding your solar options in Sumner, WA, simply give us a call today!

Steps Involved with Solar Panel Installation

January 30th, 2015

Installing a solar panel is a great way to save money on your home’s energy costs from month to month. However, it also happens to involve a pretty complex series of steps in order to be installed correctly. This is definitely not something you want to be doing yourself, though there are some benefits to knowing what exactly is involved with the process. Let’s take a look at the steps involved with solar panel installation, and why you want a professional to take care of it for you.

Preparation

Before anything else, the site has to be properly prepared for the solar panel to be installed. Space has to be considered. Do you have enough room on your roof for the solar panel, or would it be best to install it elsewhere? Will it be easy to access the panels in case of a problem? If you are installing it on your house, is that area strong enough to support the added weight? What about sunlight exposure? Do is the location you’ve chosen exposed to enough sunlight throughout the day? If those seem like a lot of questions, they are. In fact, they’re just the tip of the iceberg as far as preparation goes. You do not want to be navigating this kind of stuff by yourself, especially if you don’t have any experience in the matter.

Installation

After everything has been laid out, and the proper calculations made, the actual installation starts. It begins with a rack, which the solar panels will sit on. Next, the panels have to be wired together and connected to the rest of the system. As with all electrical work, this can get dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. That’s one more reason to let a professional do it for you. After the panels are all properly wired, the whole thing has to be connected to the home’s electrical grid. The whole process involves dealing with a lot of electricity, and if done incorrectly can cause a whole host of problems. With a professional covering each step, however, the whole thing can be done safely and efficiently.

If you need a solar panel installed, call Sound Heating and make an appointment with us. We offer solar installation service throughout Auburn, WA.

How Much Can Solar Energy Save You?

January 23rd, 2015

We’ve been hearing about how much money and resources solar energy can save for a long time now. A lot of numbers get thrown around on the national scale and in government buildings, but you rarely hear specifics about how much solar energy can benefit the average homeowner. Considering that average homeowners are the ones with the most power to implement solar energy on a wide scale, we feel that this lack of information is a major oversight. With that in mind, let’s examine how much money solar energy can save you if utilized in your home.

Operating Cost Savings

As you are well aware, each home has an operating cost, which is comprised of the total cost of things like electricity, plumbing, and all other utilities that are required for the home to function. Electricity is usually the most expensive of these utilities, as it is used for so many different things in the home. Electricity also happens to be the area that solar energy is designed to supply, making it one of the most cost-efficient improvements that you can make to your home.

This cost efficiency is illustrated by comparing the inflation rates of the two resources. Solar energy is free and renewable, as long as you have the equipment installed which can make use of it. Electricity, on the other hand, costs money to produce and deliver. According to a recent study from the Edison Electric Institute, the price of electricity rose around 2.5% each year between the years of 2000 and 2006. That’s a significant jump in price, which only increases the value that solar energy provides by saving you a percentage of your electricity bill.

The average home consumes around 900 kilowatt hours per month. That’s the total power consumed by all the different electricity-using devices in your home. An average solar system, assuming that it is receiving an average amount of sunlight, can provide approximately 450 kilowatt hours per month. That’s around half of your total electricity bill, which will only increase in value as the cost of electricity rises. So you see, a solar energy system can save you a great deal of money, and will pay for itself in fairly short order.

To schedule an appointment or if you’d like to know more, call Sound Heating today. We provide quality solar installation service in the Gig Harbor area.