Category Archives: Heating

bask in snow

Heater’s Still Standing

We’ve spent the better part of this spring talking about your heating system miraculously making it through the wicked winter of 2017. Some of you realize this past winter was certainly your heater’s last stand, making now the best time to hook yourself up with a new unit. But, what about the rest of you with heating systems that still have a few good winters left in em? What about the heaters that are still standing strong? Is there anything you can do to make a decent system more efficient? The guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating have just the news for you!

Boiler Add-Ons

If you heat your home using a hot water boiler, there is an easy way to improve the efficiency of your system and save money without having to replace the boiler itself. All you need is a boiler outdoor reset control.

A what?

A boiler outdoor reset control can be installed on an existing boiler to automatically adjust the temperature of the water heated by the boiler based on the outdoor temperature. “With boiler water temperatures adjustable, you can improve the comfort of your home, the lifespan of your heating equipment, reduce standby energy loss, and lower your heating bills by an average of 10 percent,” said Grand Master Plumber Greg Sheck from G&C. All you have to do is call the guys at G&C to install it.

Boilers are traditionally designed to heat water to peak temperatures, anywhere from 160-200 ºF. This temperature range typically keeps your home comfortable even the coldest days of the year in New England. “In the spring and fall, and during some of the wacky winter days when we get in the 50’s, you don’t need peak temperatures from your boiler even though you still need heat to keep your house comfortable,” said Sheck. “Without a boiler outdoor reset control, your boiler doesn’t adjust according to the mild or wild temperatures, it heats water to peak whether you need it or not.” At peak temps, your using energy you don’t need, which is like throwing money out the window.

More Mass Save Benefits

To help more people realize the benefits of outdoor reset controls, the Sponsors of Mass Save® are offering rebates of up to $225 on controls for natural gas boilers and up to $100 on controls for oil and propane boilers. That’s free money from Mass Save that you just can’t pass up, especially if you know your boiler is good for a few more winters! For more information about Mass Save rebates, click here or call the guys at G&C and they will happily walk you through it.

Piggy Bank

Heater’s Last Stand – Part 2

Last time we talked about your heating system miraculously making it through the wicked winter of 2017. We all agreed it was your heater’s last stand, and that now is the perfect time to replace that sucker even though you don’t want to talk or even think about turning on the heat. The guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating get it, it’s summer and warm, but let’s find the best way to outfit your home with a new system while this warmth lasts.

Mass Save

Get this, when you replace inefficient and old (AKA: barely hanging on, it’s a miracle we didn’t freeze to death in February) heating equipment, you may be eligible for rebates of up to $3,250 through the Mass Save Program.

“Mass Save is a collaborative of gas and electric utilities, and service providers that give people a hand in making energy efficient upgrades by providing a range of services, rebates, incentives, trainings, and information,” said Greg Sheck, the Grand Master Plumber and heating system extraordinaire from G&C.

This means Mass Save can help you pay for your new heating system! Who doesn’t like free money?

According to Mass Save, “Massachusetts has earned top ranking as the #1 state in the nation for energy efficiency according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).” (We copied that from their website, along with the following lists:)

How to Participate

  • To see if you’re eligible for an early heating or cooling equipment replacement rebate, contact us at 866-527-SAVE (7283) to schedule your no-cost Mass Save Home Energy Assessment or Site Visit prior to removing your old equipment and installing your new efficient equipment.
    • If you are only interested in the early central A/C or central heat pump rebate, you may contact an Airflow and Charge Check (AC Check) Trained Contractor to verify eligibility.
    • Please note if you are interested in using the HEAT Loan to finance the new equipment, you must have a Home Energy Assessment.
  • If your equipment is eligible for the early replacement rebate, you will receive the rebate form from your Energy Specialist or AC Check Trained Contractor. The new equipment must meet or exceed the efficiency requirements listed above.
  • Rebates and other required documentation can be submitted online or by mail.
    Please allow six to eight weeks for rebate payment after our receipt and verification of all paperwork and/or site inspection.

Rebate Eligibility Requirements

Natural Gas, Oil and Propane Heating Systems:

  • Fuel switching/conversion (i.e. oil to gas) is NOT eligible for this offer.
  • Distribution change/conversion (i.e. forced hot air to forced hot water) is NOT eligible for this offer.
  • Must be a Massachusetts residential natural gas or electric customer of Berkshire Gas, Blackstone Gas, Cape Light Compact JPE, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, Eversource, Liberty Utilities, National Grid or Unitil.
  • Municipal Electric customers must heat with natural gas provided by a participating Gas Utility.
  • Customer must complete a Mass Save Home Energy Assessment or Site Visit prior to replacing their heating equipment. The existing equipment must be functional and fueled by natural gas, propane, or oil. A boiler must be at least 30 years old, while a furnace must be at least 12 years old.
  • Qualifying equipment must be installed and completed Rebate Form and other required documentation must be submitted by the installation and submission deadlines.
  • Equipment must be installed within a home with an active residential account.
  • Customers receiving the Early Heating Equipment Replacement Rebates are NOT eligible for any other Mass Save or GasNetworks heating and cooling equipment rebates on installed equipment; however, customers are eligible to apply for 0% financing through the Mass Save HEAT Loan Program.
  • Rebate is only valid for installations between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. Rebate application must be submitted by January 31, 2019.
  • Equipment installation may be subject to a verification inspection.

Well, That Was A Lot of Bullet Points

The bottom line is Greg and Brandon from G&C Plumbing and Heating are here to help get your new heating system installed for the best price possible. Weather it’s financing options with G&C and/or helping your get the maximum on Mass Save rebates, give the guys a call and they’ll make sure your old heater’s last stand is a pleasant memory.

5.13.18c

Heater’s Last Stand

Raise your hand if when you turned off the heat last month you were amazed your system lasted through winter because you’re pretty sure it’d been circling the drain since Thanksgiving.

Hands down.

Greg and Brandon Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating know you don’t want to talk about heat after the winter we just survived, but now is actually the best time of the year to make some critical decisions about your heating system. “Because you don’t need it right now,” said Grand Master Plumber Greg Sheck. So, whether you’re certain of your system’s impending death or just curious, Greg and Brandon want you to do them a favor…

Go over to your heating system, right now, and run a quick test to make sure it’s in proper working order. “Don’t worry, running a test on your heater isn’t technically the same as turning it on,” said Greg for those still suffering from the psychological effects of March.

  • Move the thermostat switch to the “heat/on” position and turn it up at least 10 degrees higher than the actual room temperature.
  • Listen carefully. Within a few minutes, you should hear your heating equipment jump into action.
  • If the equipment doesn’t start up, press the reset button on your burner’s relay. Press it just once.
  • If your system still doesn’t start, consider these points:
    • Are the emergency switches on? (There may be two: one at the stairs and one at the unit)
    • Did the fuse or circuit breaker for your equipment trip?

If the system kicks on, good! But, Greg wants you to consider a few things while it’s humming:

  • How many times in the past three years have you had the system serviced? Check out your service history to review the dollars spent. “If the numbers are creeping up there, you might want to invest in a new high-efficiency system instead of return-repair visits,” said Greg.
  • Are there any abnormal smells or funky noises? A bump or two from the basement is to be expected, but “if you hear excessive humming, clunking, banging, or smell strange odors, that’s not good and even if you don’t replace the system, it certainly needs a check-up.”
  • Is the air dry or dusty? Noticeable amounts of dust or drastic changes in air humidity can be symptoms of a declining heating system.

“We don’t want folks to sit back, enjoy their spring and summer and then find themselves in October with a faulty system,” said Brandon Sheck. “That is actually the worst time to make critical decisions about your heating system because that’s when you need it.”

G&C is pleased to offer financing options for pro-active customers this spring. “We have a 12-month financing option with 0 percent interest if you pay it off in said months, or longer terms like 60 to 84-month options for about six to nine percent interest,” said Brandon who is glad this gives customers peace of mind about coming up with money upfront for something they don’t even want to talk about when the weather is nice.

If you’re suspicious that your heater may have made its last stand over the winter, call the guys at G&C Pluming and Heating to get some honest advice and suggestions about what you should do right now.  In addition to financing options, Greg can tell you about some helpful MASS Save rebates that will also help.

We’ll tell you all the details next time!

bobsled

G&C Knows Heating

In New England, we have a variety of heating systems; furnaces, boilers, and pumps to name a few. When sitting in our living room, enjoying the Olympics, we’re not too concerned about how the heat gets to us, just that it does and that it follows us everywhere in the house.

As the temps outside fluctuate wildly (as they are now), it can be tough on a central heating system and sometimes cause it to go belly-up. Should that happen, the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating think it’s good to be in the know just in case you have to shop around for a replacement system.

Furnaces

Furnaces are how the majority of North American households’ heat. “This type of heating system is called a ducted warm-air or forced warm-air distribution system,” said Grand Master Plumber and Heating Expert Greg Sheck.

Basically, a furnace works by mixing fuel with air to create a fire. The flames heat an exchanger which produces hot air. The air is pushed by a furnace fan and forced through ductwork downstream of the heat exchanger. “These types of systems used to be big energy guzzlers, but as the demand for conservation has increased, the standards on furnaces have gone up dramatically,” said Sheck.

Boilers

Instead of carrying heat in warm air like a furnace, boiler systems distribute heat in hot water which then gives up heat as it passes through radiators or other devices in rooms throughout the house. The cooler water then returns to the boiler to be reheated.

Long ago they used steam boilers which boiled water and then steam carried heat through the house, condensing to water in the radiators as it cools. This technology, although effective, was very inefficient. Today, boilers are considered top of the line in energy conservation, especially in on-demand systems and radiant heat components.

Heat Pumps

“Heat pumps are basically two-way air conditioners and are very popular,” said Sheck. Heat Pump are often considered the wave of the future for energy conservation. There are a few common types of heat pumps:

  • Air-source heat pumps use the outside air as the heat source in winter and heat sink in summer.
  • Ground-source, or geothermal, heat pumps get their heat from the constant temperature underground.
  • Ductless heat pumps distribute energy through refrigerant lines instead of water or air.

Now You Know

Those are a few of the common central heating systems you run into in today’s heating system market. If you are one of the unlucky few who find themselves heatless as the outdoor temps go up and down like a yo-yo this month, call Greg and Brandon today, they can go over more specifics about which system would be best for your home. G&C knows heating!

wood

Energy Efficiency 101

Since we all just had a cord of wood delivered to avoid turning on our heating systems here in New England, (How is everyone doing? Anyone turn on the heat, yet? Let us know on Facebook!) let’s focus some attention on energy efficiency. The guys at G&C are big on going green and encourage all customers to take advantage of an energy audit to make sure you’re utilizing your home to the fullest.

Over the years, Greg and Brandon have gathered some tips to get the most of an audit. Today, they share them with you because they’re such nice guys!

The Energy Audit Low Down from a Master Plumber

“Professional energy assessments go into great detail about your home’s energy use,” said Greg Sheck. “You can contact your utility company or hire an outside energy auditor and they will typically go room-by-room, examining your house and taking a look at past utility bills.” Mass Save can also be a big help.

Greg said that most professionals will do what is called a blower door test which includes a machine that measures the airtightness of buildings. It can also be used to measure airflow between building zones, to test ductwork airtightness and to help locate air leakage sites in your home.

Do You Have to Clean Your Closets?

Greg says, No!

“But, you should make a list of existing problems such as condensation on windows or rooms that have drafts,” said the Master Plumber.

He also suggests having copies or a summary of your home’s yearly energy bills. “You can get these from the utility company if you burned them to keep warm this month,” laughed Greg.

Why Is He Looking There?

“An auditor usually examines the outside of the home first to get a sense of the size and the number of windows it has and then he or she will focus on you,” said Greg. So, be prepared to answer the following:

  • Is anyone home during working hours?
  • What is the average thermostat setting for summer and winter?
  • How many people live here?
  • Is every room in use?

This is Not an Interrogation; You Are Not in Trouble!

Unless you’re hiding something in the basement, your answers should help uncover some simple ways to reduce your household’s energy consumption. Walk through your home with the auditors as they work, and ask questions about weatherization and getting those new light bulbs. Be sure to strike up a conversation about heating systems, financing and rebates. Then call the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating!

warm

Heating System Fuel Sources

First Question: How is your Friendly G&C Heating Hold Out going – Have you turned on the heat, yet? Let us know on Facebook. If you are in the market for a new system, you might want to consider upgrading your fuel source – that stuff that feeds your heater. Here is some info to help.heating-sources

Data source:  U.S. DOE/EIA; Mass. Utility Filings, DOER SHOPP surveys

Making a Fuel Source Switch

It’s interesting that although New England is the oldest part of the country, there are still many areas that do not have access to natural gas. Heating oil continues to be one of the most popular forms of fuel even though it’s, how shall we say, WICKED EXPENSIVE. For some it’s simply a matter of using what is already there, but if you find yourself in a position to upgrade your home heating fuel source, and maybe even consider some renewable technologies, G&C can help.

“It’s a complex decision,” said Greg Sheck the Master Plumber at G&C Plumbing and Heating. “It’s something you have to consider long term because a heating option that seems less expensive in the short run can sometimes turn out to be very costly over time due to a fuel source hike. On the flip side, a heating system with a higher up-front cost can produce lower and more stable heating costs long term.”

Sheck suggests having an energy audit and then he can sit down with you to go over the results to help determine the best upgrade for your home.

Here is what Sheck will consider…

Factors Affecting Projected Heating Costs

The following is directly from the Mass.gov Energy and Environmental Affairs website’s 2015/2016 Projected Household Heating Costs

Natural Gas: Based on the utilities’ natural gas filings at the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).  DOER estimates that the projected natural gas price this winter will average $11.90/MMBtu compared with $14.80/MMBtu last winter.  However, ongoing natural gas pipeline constraints for delivering natural gas to New England customers could contribute to price volatility during periods of very cold temperatures.

Heating Oil: Lower heating oil prices reflect lower crude oil prices.  The U.S. DOE estimates that the cost of Brent crude oil spot prices will average $52 per barrel this winter, a drop of about $13 per barrel (32 cents/gallon) lower than last winter.

Propane: Propane is also benefiting from lower crude oil and natural gas prices, as these are the fuels used to make propane.  Additionally, supply issues that have occurred in past years such as the prolonged cold weather throughout the U.S. during the winter, or late season crop drying in the Midwest resulting in high usage of propane stores are not expected to reoccur, thus leading to lower price estimates for propane customers this winter.

Electricity:  Based on filings by the Electric Distribution Companies with the DPU, basic service electricity prices for Massachusetts utilities will decrease for this winter.  This is largely due to lower natural gas prices as natural gas is the primary fuel used for electric generation.  The utilities expect the supply cost to drop by 28% for Eversource customers and 20% for NGRID Customers.  Unitil is expecting a 13.6% drop.  Municipal electric heat customers should check with their individual utility for prices.

Renewable thermal technologies, including cold climate heat pumps, solar water heating, and biomass pellet heating, are attractive new technologies now entering the market that can offer homeowners significant energy costs savings. DOER is supporting these emerging technologies, as outlined on DOER’s website under Renewable Energy.

It’s Starting to Get Cold Out There

Next time, we’ll take another look at how the Heating Hold Out is going for Greg and check in with the guys about specific issues you should make sure are addressed during your home energy audit.

heating-systems-warm

Common Heating Systems

In Alaska, the indigenous Eskimos (or Inuit) basically heat their igloos with only body heat and a little light that burns seal fat.  In Australia, they don’t really even have systems, just gas outlets for people to plug little heaters into the wall here and there. In New England, we have a variety of systems; furnaces, boilers, and pumps to name a few. When sitting in our living room, enjoying the big game, we’re not too concerned about how that heat gets to us, just that it does and that it follows us everywhere in the house.

That is why we call it…

Central Heating

While we stubbornly hold out turning our heat on in New England (but run a test to make sure it works) let’s take a look at a few of the common heating systems used in the area. (Because, if you do the test and discover your system is busted, it’s good to be in the know when shopping around)

Furnaces

Furnaces are how the majority of North American households’ heat. “This type of heating system is called a ducted warm-air or forced warm-air distribution system,” said Grand Master Plumber Greg Sheck. There are a few ways to fuel a furnace. Lucky for you, seal fat is not one of them, but we’ll cover fuel next time.

Basically, a furnace works by mixing fuel with air to create a fire. The flames heat an exchanger which produces hot air. The air is pushed by a furnace fan and forced through ductwork downstream of the heat exchanger. “These types of systems used to be big energy guzzlers, but as the demand for conservation has increased, the standards on furnaces have gone up dramatically,” said Sheck.

Boilers

Instead of carrying heat in warm air like a furnace, boiler systems distribute heat in hot water which then gives up heat as it passes through radiators or other devices in rooms throughout the house. The cooler water then returns to the boiler to be reheated.

Long ago they used steam boilers which boiled water and then steam carried heat through the house, condensing to water in the radiators as it cools. This technology, although effective, was very inefficient. Today, boilers are considered top of the line in energy conservation, especially in on-demand systems and radiant heat components.

Heat Pumps

“Heat pumps are basically two-way air conditioners and are very popular,” said Sheck.

There are a few common types of heat pumps:

Air-source heat pumps use the outside air as the heat source in winter and heat sink in summer. Ground-source, or geothermal, heat pumps get their heat from the constant temperature underground. Ductless heat pumps distribute energy through refrigerant lines instead of water or air. Heat Pump are considered the wave of the future for energy conservation.

Now You Know

Those are a few of the common central heating systems you run into in today’s heating system market. If you were one of the unlucky few who discovered they had a bum system while running your early fall “Is this thing on” test, call Greg and Brandon today, they can go over more specifics about which system would be best for your home.

Next up – What do we feed this thing? Typical fuel sources for the typical heating system and which one works best for which. (Say that five times fast)

cold

The Annual Turning on the Heat Holdout

Ah – Fall is finally here! Lovely crisp weather, FOOTBALL, and the New England time honored tradition of seeing how long you can holdout before turning on the heat.

Folks in these parts pride themselves in waiting until the end of October or the beginning of November to turn on the heat. (It’s just a thing) The die-hard heat waiters (wearing thermos to bed and beanies at the dinner table) sometimes wait it out until the first weeks of December – they are my heroes.

Whether it’s October or December when you decide to throw in the towel and turn on the heat, Greg and Brandon Sheck of G&C Plumbing and Heating want you to do them a favor: Go down to your heating system, right now, and make sure it’s in proper working order. Or, give the guys a call and they can check it out for you. Either way, we don’t want this years’ heater holdout winner to flip that switch in mid-December, with slightly blue fingers, only to be terribly disappointed.

So…

Run a Test

“Running a test on your heater doesn’t count as turning it on,” said Grand Master Plumber, Greg who once held out until Christmas eve to turn on the heat. “That was a proud moment.”

Follow these quick steps to make sure your heating unit is working properly:

  • Check that the thermostat switch is in the “heat/on” position and turn up the thermostat at least 10 degrees higher than the actual room temperature.
  • Listen carefully. Within a few minutes you should hear your heating equipment jump into action.
  • If the equipment doesn’t start up, press the reset button on your burner’s relay. Press it just once.

If your system still doesn’t start, take a deep breath, maybe start dialing G&C, while you consider these possibilities:

  • Are the emergency switches on? (There may be two: one at the stairs and one at the unit)
  • Did the fuse or circuit breaker for your equipment trip?
  • Is the thermostat set properly?

If the above don’t work, Greg and Brandon should be able to get you an appointment within the next 24 hours. The guys will check out your heater to ensure you’re ready for whenever you decide to dedicate as the big turn-on day.

Now the fun part…

G&C Friendly Heat Holdout Challenge

Since we all play this game anyway, why not add some friendly competition?

Let Greg and Brandon know on the G&C Plumbing and Heating Facebook Page when you turn on your heating system this year.

The household that holds out the longest will win a free tub of Bio Clean – Greg and Brandon’s all-time favorite drain cleaning solution. Using your fireplace to stay warm is allowed so long as it’s just supplemental. But, if you have kids or older people living with you, be smart – it’s just a tub of drain cleaner, after all.

Let the games begin!

Next Time…

The guys will discuss common heating systems used in New England just in case you are thinking of upgrading your system, or our simple test above failed miserably and you need a new system to play our Holdout game.

Until then, stay toasty my friends.