Dupuis Energy
401 Walcott St Pawtucket, RI 02860
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Is it Time for a Home Energy Audit?

Know When to Have Your Home’s Energy Efficiency Assessed by a Pro

There’s no doubt that homeowners throughout MA and RI want to keep their homes comfortable  and save on utility bills. Unfortunately, accomplishing both of these goals isn’t always easy. One of the best ways that you can work towards ensuring comfort while lowering costs is to opt for a home energy audit.

Five Signs That It’s Time for a Home Energy Audit

During a home energy audit, an auditor will evaluate your property to determine how your home uses energy and whether or not key systems such as AC and heating are functioning efficiently. Such audits provide a great opportunity to identify efficiency problems in your home and find ways to correct them.

While an energy audit can be an invaluable way to save money, many homeowners just aren’t sure if it’s time for an audit or not. It’s a good idea to have an energy audit conducted if:

•    You’ve noticed significant increases in your utility bills without making significant changes in how you use your HVAC system.
•    You notice that some areas of your house are always much cooler or much warmer than others.
•    Your heater or air conditioner just doesn’t seem to produce as much treated air as you need to stay comfortable.
•    You notice drafts around doors, windows, walls or floorboards.
•    You’re preparing to replace an old HVAC system with a new, high-efficiency system.

It’s particularly important to have a home energy audit conducted before making decisions about the type of comfort system you’ll purchase to replace an older system. Identifying other causes of efficiency loss, such as poorly sealed windows or ductwork, ensures that you’ll get the most out of your new system.

Preparing for Your Home Energy Audit

Your energy audit should take anywhere from a few hours to an entire day depending on the structure of your home and your particular concerns. To best prepare for your energy audit, you should:

•    Gather utility bills from the past year and highlight any mysterious increases in costs.
•    List your comfort concerns. Note which concerns are ongoing and which have developed over recent months.
•    Pull out information about your home’s comfort system and other major appliances.
•    Jot down any concerns you have about the performance of specific appliances or home systems.
•    Make a list of efficiency-related goals that you’d like to reach.

At the end of your home energy audit, your auditor will present you with a report that details the results and includes suggestions for improving efficiency. At Dupuis Energy, we’re proud to offer HVAC solutions following an audit. Call us today to discuss your efficiency concerns.

Ultrasonic Tank Testing Does More than Protect Your Oil

A quick and inexpensive way to tell if your heating oil tank is ready for the winter season

Winters in MA and RI can get cold quickly, and when the temperature dips below freezing, you want to know that you can rely on your home heating system to perform at its best. Ultrasonic testing can determine the condition of your heating oil tank and tell you whether or not maintenance needs to be done to ensure your home stays warm all season.

What is Ultrasonic Testing

Using a series of sound waves calibrated to the type of material being examined, ultrasonic testing detects the thickness of a material to pinpoint potential abnormalities. What does this mean for your heating oil tank? An ultrasonic test can show if corrosion has been eating away at the metal inside without the tank having to be physically removed and inspected. It can also detect structural problems such as cracks or places where the metal may be separating. The method works with a variety of metal types including those that are coated or lined.

Benefits of Tank Testing

Ultrasonic testing is non-destructive—that is, no parts of your tank have to be taken off or any pipes detached. All the inspector has to do is use a gauge to send sound pulses through the metal. This offers nearly instantaneous feedback on the condition of the inside of the tank and has been proven to be accurate with a very small margin of error. Since the method is so simple and quick, it’s a cost-effective way to learn the status of your home heating system and whether or not it needs attention before winter well and truly sets in.

Why bother having your tank tested in the first place? Consider how much oil the tank holds when it’s full. Liquid in general is heavy, and oil even more so due to its viscosity. A tank that has been slowly corroding over time will develop weak areas that may not be able to handle the influx when you get your first oil delivery of the season. This could result in a catastrophic tank failure at a time when heat is most needed. Oil spills pose a serious hazard to your home and cause environmental damage that can take years to correct.

As you can see, a structurally sound heating oil tank is important to ensure home safety. Dupuis Energy can give you peace of mind by performing regular inspections and tune-ups of your home heating system.

Looking Ahead to Winter 2014 in the Northeast

Are more frigid temperatures on the way?

As you probably remember, last winter brought heavy snow and unusually cold conditions to the Northeast. AccuWeather reported that it was colder than any season since 1994. Next winter doesn’t officially begin for a couple of months, but some meteorologists have already started to publish their predictions. Unfortunately, many of these long-term forecasts suggest that powerful snowstorms and extreme temperatures will make a comeback in December.

Predictions

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has issued seasonal outlooks for specific cities throughout New England. It calls for extra snow in Providence, Boston and New Bedford. The almanac expects most of it to fall after early December and before late February. This winter may combine major storms with frigid temperatures. The OFA anticipates unusually cold weather in December and January.

Other meteorologists generally agree with the almanac. Weather Advance has released a preliminary forecast that calls for more snow and rain than average. Likewise, The Weather Centre predicts that northeastern states will experience heavy snow accumulations and particularly cold temperatures. Forecasters at the National Weather Service, The Weather Channel and AccuWeather have yet to issue winter outlooks for 2014.

Repercussions

If these predictions hold true, the harsh winter could have a major impact on people and businesses throughout the Northeast. Cold weather might result in higher energy consumption and rising fuel prices. When Americans spend extra money on snow removal or energy, retail sales often decrease. This situation may also force your local government to use more tax dollars to maintain roads and heat public buildings.

Getting Ready

Long-term forecasts remind us that there’s still enough time to prepare for bitter conditions. First, remember to perform any necessary building repairs before freezing temperatures arrive. Try to save money for extra heating fuel and plowing services. Think about buying warmer outdoor clothing, studded tires or a snowblower. If you own a small business, set aside some cash to prepare for slow sales during January and February.

Don’t forget to service and clean your furnace to ensure that it performs reliably in cold weather. This reduces the likelihood that you’ll need costly emergency repairs. You can also minimize heating expenses by sealing cracks or adding more insulation to your home. A home energy audit could identify the best ways to cut costs. Consider switching to a less expensive fuel or purchasing a more efficient boiler.

Dupuis Energy helps MA and RI residents get ready for winter. We service HVAC systems, deliver fuel and install efficient heating equipment. Our company has more than a century of HVAC experience in New England, so you can rely on us for dependable service. Dupuis Energy’s affordable maintenance plans and complimentary energy audits help reduce winter heating expenses.

Are Your Air Ducts Wasting Energy?

Detecting leaks with a home energy audit saves money and resources

Are leaking air ducts compromising the efficiency of your HVAC system? Air leakage from ductwork is a major contributor to high energy bills and can make your home less than comfortable during the winter season.

Consequences of Leaky Ductwork

When air is forced through a leaky duct, the pressure can cause more air to leak out than if you were to cut a big hole in your wall. This means a compromised duct system may reduce the efficiency of your heating system up to 30%. Leaks in ducts that supply the house cause a negative pressure balance that pulls chilly air in from the outside. A return-duct leak reverses the pressure and pulls warm air from the house into the ducts. In both cases, you’re losing valuable heat and your heating system has to use more energy to bring the house to the desired temperature.

Detecting Leaks With a Home Energy Audit

How can you figure out where you’re losing all that heat? Have a professional technician come in and do a home energy audit. These specialists are trained in a variety of testing options that are designed to pinpoint the source of your home’s energy loss. Airflow testing uses a specific pressure reading to determine duct tightness. Air leakage detectors can show whether hot or cold air is coming into the house. Another test uses a blower door to depressurize your home and draw air in from leaking areas.

What to Do About Those Leaks?

The results of an energy audit will give you an idea of what changes are necessary to fix your leaking HVAC ducts. The most obvious options are to reattach any ducts that have separated and seal visible holes. Insulation adds an extra layer of protection by preventing loss through heat conduction, especially in ducts that run through unconditioned areas of the house such as the attic or basement.

Once your ducts are secure, regular maintenance of your home heating system ensures optimal function in all weather conditions. Establishing a maintenance routine offers peace of mind because technicians can detect problems with your ducts or heating system before they have too much of an impact on your heating bills.

If you suspect leaky air ducts are to blame for your high energy bills, contact Dupuis Energy for a free home energy audit. Our specialists can identify parts of the ductwork in your HVAC system that have been compromised, and they perform the necessary repairs to increase your home’s efficiency. Serving homes around our RI and MA locations, Dupuis Energy is fully equipped to handle the upgrades and repairs your system needs.

To Install or Not to Install: Is it Time to Call in a Pro?

Look Before You Take the HVAC DIY Leap

If you’re thinking it can’t be that hard, this is probably your first time. It sounds like a good way to keep some cash in your pocket, and the job has to be done. Before setting your best handyman talents loose on a home HVAC installation project, you might want to consider these five DIY truths.

1. It’s a Big Job

Taking on installation yourself requires a huge investment of your time, resources and energy. You’ll need a truck or van for transporting heavy AC and heating equipment and you’ll have to dispose of the old unit first or negotiate with a scrap metal dealer. Once that chore’s finished, it’s time to visit the home improvement center and search the aisles for a perfect HVAC system. Back at the house, be sure to ask a friend for help hauling the new furnace up to the attic and positioning the AC compressor and its housing on the concrete pad out back.

2. The Details Are Devilish

Do you plan on replacing that old duct system or working out a retrofit? Without optimum air flow, new HVAC equipment can’t deliver the energy savings you’re counting on. If that friend who’s helping with the heavy lifting understands plumbing, electrical and gas connections, put him to work on the AC drainage lines, thermostat and furnace hookup. You’ll both need your toolboxes to tackle any structural modifications to the attic.

3. Recalculate Your Savings

Your time and labor are free, but count on using up several days to finish the project. When an HVAC professional handles the job, his time is factored into the installation price, and he supplies equipment purchased directly from the manufacturer. You’ll pay substantially more for a unit off the home improvement center’s shelf. If you break any parts or damage the equipment, you really own it, and the replacement costs are all yours.

4. Professional Advantages Count

HVAC pros are certified and licensed, and their expertise covers everything from motors and capacitors to dampers and trunk fittings. They use high-tech equipment to calculate heat load and air flow, so you can count on a system that’s properly sized to your home. If the installation involves building code or permit issues, HVAC specialists handle it. Most importantly, a manufacturers’ warranty covers professional installation; DIY work voids that agreement.

5. Safety

Another consideration, and the most important, is your personal safety. HVAC installation can be an extremely dangerous endeavor for anyone who is not a licensed professional. Mishaps such as refrigerant leaks, gas leaks, or electrical malfunctions can lead to severe property damage, injury, and even death.

Some home improvement jobs are better off in the hands of professionals, and our friendly Dupuis Energy teams are always here to answer your questions. We’ve proudly served RI and MA homeowners for more than four generations, so contact us before you make a DIY leap. Visit our website at http://www.dupuisenergy.com/ for more info on how we can help.