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.

What Are The Benefits Of Installing A Solar Energy System?

January 14th, 2015

Even in cloudy or foggy weather or on a very cold day, the sun gives off enough radiant energy to sufficiently power all of the electronics in your home. If you’ve been thinking about switching to solar energy, why not start by powering some of the appliances that use up the most energy? You can use solar panels to power your heater, air conditioner, and water heater if you don’t want to convert your entire home just yet, and in any case, you’ll be helping out the environment and saving a lot of money over time. Learn more about how people benefit from solar installation in Olympia in today’s guide.

Energy Savings and Peace of Mind

The energy savings from solar alone convince many people to convert. Solar energy systems pay for themselves over time as you’ll notice dramatic cuts to your monthly bills. Although solar-powered appliances are also hooked up to an electrical grid as a backup power source, the meter actually runs backwards as you contribute electricity to the grid due to overproduction. This means money is credited to your bill, for even greater savings. Besides that, there are government incentives in place so that you’ll usually get a tax credit when you go solar.

And you can also have some peace of mind knowing that you’ve done some good for the environment. Generally, electricity is generated from fossil fuels, which emit dangerous toxic gases into the environment, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Solar panels reduce CO2 emissions so that we can all breathe a little easier.

Furthermore, solar panels have no moving parts and require very little maintenance from year to year. Some manufacturers recommend hosing off the unit from time to time, but the rain can also take care of this job for you. Solar panels are built tough so they rarely run into repair needs. And despite some myths to the contrary, panels will not damage the roof, and can actually protect it from harsh weather.

Discover the benefits of solar energy for yourself. Call the experts at Sound Heating for an assessment of your home and budget so that you can decide whether it’s time to upgrade your home with solar installation in Olympia.

Energy Saving Tips for the Winter

January 5th, 2015

If you’re looking for ways to save some energy as the new year begins and the heating season is in full swing, there are a few ways to do so without shutting off your heating system altogether. Sometimes, all a heating system really needs is a brief tune-up. Other times, you’ll need to install a new part, like a thermostat. And while it may be the case that you need a new heating system entirely, there are many affordable options to choose from with efficiency ratings that will far exceed your existing unit’s level of efficiency.

Here are a few of the ways you can upgrade your heating system for maximum savings.

  • Set the thermostat to an energy-efficient temperature. A programmable thermostat allows you the ability to decide the temperature you expect your heating system to reach at different times of the day. Try setting the heater to kick in only when the temperature drops below 68 degrees. When you’re away or asleep, you can set your thermostat ten degrees lower, and program it to begin to heat up again 30 minutes before you wake up or arrive home. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider having a technician install one.
  • Schedule heating maintenance every year. Another way to make sure you continue to save energy every year is by scheduling maintenance. As the heating system goes on, parts of your heater are bound to become a bit worn down. And when your heating system goes unused throughout the cooling season, pieces will get dirty and parts may even loosen or fall into a state of disrepair. It’s a good idea to schedule regular maintenance with a heating professional in order to prevent any sudden repair needs and keep your unit in top shape and at peak efficiency.
  • Consider a new heating system. No homeowner wants to hear the bad news about their home heating system, but the fact is that any unit will lose its ability to heat a home efficiently over time. Sometimes, a new heating system is your best option. But new heaters are designed to be far more efficient than those built decades ago thanks to new government standards and advancements in technology.

Call Sound Heating to learn more about maximizing the efficiency of your heating. To schedule heating service in Tacoma, call us today!

When New Year’s Day Was Not on January 1st

January 1st, 2015

Some holidays fall on shifting calendar days for every year, such as Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday in November) and Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon to occur on or after March 21). Other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween, are fixed. No holiday has a more solid calendar date attached to it than New Year’s Day. It has to fall on January 1st because it celebrates the first day of a new year. That only makes sense…

…except that, like most things that at first appear obvious, there is a bit more to the story. The beginning of the year was not always on the first of January. As with an enormous numbers of traditions in the Western World, the establishment of January 1st as the inaugural day of a new year goes back to the ancient Romans.

The modern solar calendar is derived from the Roman model, but the earliest Roman calendars did not have 365 days in a year spread over 12 months. Instead, there were 304 days spread over 10 months. The Romans believed this calendar originated with the mythical founder of the city, Romulus. If Romulus were a real person, we can credit him with a poor understanding of the seasons, as this abbreviated calendar soon got out of sync with Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Numa, one of the Kings of Rome (probably also fictional) receives credit for creating a longer year with two added months, Ianuarius and Februarius, bringing the number of days in the year to 355. The new month of Ianuarius, named after Ianus (Janus in contemporary spelling), the god of beginnings, would eventually be known in English as January. But when this new calendar was instituted, January was not the first month. March, named after the god of war, remained the first month, and March 1st was New Year’s Day.

This extended calendar still did not keep in synch with the seasons. In 45 BCE, Julius Caesar instituted reforms to align the calendar correctly according to calculations of astronomers, with an additional 10 days distributed across the year. January also became set as the first month, and offerings to the god Janus on this day started the tradition we now know as New Year’s. The date still fluctuated during the ensuing centuries, with a number of Western European holy days treated as the beginning of the year instead. It wasn’t until the next calendar reform in 1582, the Gregorian Calendar, that the date of the New Year was fixed at January 1st.

However you choose to celebrate the beginning of the current calendar, everyone here at Sound Heating you have a wonderful 2015!

Why Do We Hang Up Mistletoe?

December 24th, 2014

Of course, you probably know part of the answer to this question already. You hang up mistletoe so that the people standing underneath can share a romantic holiday kiss! But what you may not realize is that the origin of this longstanding ritual predates many of the other holiday traditions we celebrate today. Why would a plant that has many poisonous varieties (most types sold for use in the home have few negative effects, but you can wrap it in netting to prevent children from consuming any fallen berries or leaves) be used as a symbol of holiday affection?

There are a couple of ways to explain the positive associations of (potentially hazardous) mistletoe. For one, this semi-parasitic plant has long been hailed as a treatment for illnesses and pain. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it to cure cramps, epilepsy, and more. Even today, mistletoe extracts are one of the leading alternative medicines studied for their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. And because the early Celtic Druids saw it as a sign of healing and life, they may be the first to bestow upon the plant its romantic associations, deeming it worthy of treating the infertile.

But it is Norse mythology that is likely responsible for a majority of the modern traditions associated with this small hanging bunch. One of the powerful Norse god Odin’s sons, named Baldur, was said to be invincible due to an oath his mother took to protect him from harm. But Loki, a god who often set out to make trouble for the gods, set out to find the one thing that could do some damage, and eventually discovered that Baldur’s mother Frigg had never included mistletoe in her invincibility oath. When mistletoe was finally responsible for her son’s demise, the grieving Frigg vowed that the plant would never again be used to hurt another living thing, and that she would plant a peaceful kiss upon anyone who walked underneath it.

And that is one of the reasons that, today, kissing under the mistletoe is viewed as a source of good luck. From our family to yours, we wish you a safe holiday season, and we hope that you and your family are full of joy and good fortune—mistletoe or not! Happy holidays from Sound Heating!