How Much Can I Save Using Solar Panels?

March 25th, 2015

By now, most homeowners are well aware of the touted benefits of installing solar panels. Some have even investigated the claims more thoroughly, in order to form an accurate cost-benefit analysis. However, many homeowners are still unaware of how much solar panels actually save on home operating costs. It’s impossible to make an informed decision about solar power if you don’t have information on how much it can actually benefit you. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some numbers on using solar energy for your home.

Cost of Installation

The first thing that you must consider with any solar panel system, and the thing that causes most homeowners to avoid solar power, is the cost of installation. There is a perception among the populace that solar panels are expensive to install, as well as being only marginally effective. This is actually untrue on both counts. In fact, the cost of solar panel installation has fallen steadily over the last few years. It is now much cheaper to install a solar panel system than it was when the technology first started to see use in American homes. So, if perceived cost of installation is what is holding you back, we urge you to call us and see what the real numbers are.

Energy Savings

The amount of energy savings you garner from a solar panel system is directly proportionate to the size of that system. You don’t have to get the largest system available to start seeing benefits. It all depends on how much of your home’s daily energy usage you want covered by the system. If you get a system large enough to cover 100% of your home’s energy costs, the money you save from paying your energy bill could be said to be going to covering the cost of the system. After that system is paid off by those savings, usually in 3-5 years, all money saved after that would be going directly into your pocket. Since most homes spend an average of $170 on their monthly energy bills, over 20 years you could save thousands upon thousands of dollars with a solar energy system.

If you’d like to know more about the statistics of solar energy, call Imagine Energy. We provide quality solar panel installation in the Portland area.

What Are the Benefits of Installing Solar Panels?

March 20th, 2015

There has been a lot of discussion over the years about the various pros and cons of solar technology. It has been debated in the media, on the internet, and even in the halls of congress. What much of those debates leave out, however, are the individual benefits of solar energy. They are largely concerned with how solar energy will fit into society as a whole, not what it can do for you as a person. Well, we feel it’s about time we had that conversation. Read on to find out more about how installing solar panels can affect you, personally.

What Is Home Solar Technology?

Solar tech is obviously a very large and complicated field. We don’t have time to cover every single application for solar energy, so instead we’re going to focus specifically on how it can be used to power your home appliances. Things like heaters, water heaters, air conditioners, lights, and electrical grids can all be powered by solar energy. The specifics change slightly with each appliance, but all of them rely on the use of solar panels to collect energy from the sun. This energy can then be converted to electricity to power the device or, as is often the case with water heaters, even used directly without being converted.

What are the Benefits?

The number one benefit is that of cost savings. Solar energy is a free and endlessly renewable resource. You don’t have to pay anyone for sunlight, so any time you use that sunlight to power your home appliances you’re saving yourself money. Environmental concerns are also often cited as reasons to install solar panels. Most home appliances rely on electricity or natural gas, the latter of which is a fossil fuel and the former of which is often produced by burning fossil fuels. Neither of these are good for the environment, but solar energy provides a way to power your home without burning fossil fuels.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of solar technology, call Imagine Energy. We provide services for solar panels in the Portland area.

Why You Should Schedule Duct Sealing for Your Home

March 11th, 2015

Your ducts serve the same purpose in your home that your lungs do in your body. They are responsible for directing and distributing air throughout the house, keeping it properly conditioned and comfortable. This makes them a pretty important part of your heating and air conditioning systems. Despite this importance, however, they are often neglected by homeowners whom are unaware of their need for maintenance. Ducts are just as much in need of regular maintenance and repair as any other part of your heating and air conditioning systems. Let’s examine one specific service that your ducts should be receiving at least once every couple of years: duct sealing.

What is Duct Sealing?

Duct sealing is the process of finding and closing any leaks that are present in your home’s ducts. Now, you may be curious about how big of a deal a few leaks in your ducts are. Well, according to the US Department of Energy the average home heating system loses up to 30% of its output to duct leaks every time it’s used. That is roughly a third of your system’s total output that you are still paying for, but is going to waste before it ever reaches you. Duct leaks are a big deal.

There are many different causes of duct leaks, from poor installation, to animal activity, to normal wear and tear associated with expansion and contraction from temperature changes. There is, unfortunately, very little you can actually do to prevent leaks from occurring in your ducts. The best you can do is regularly have your ducts inspected and sealed by an HVAC professional.

Frequency of Duct Sealing

So, how often should you have your ducts sealed? The general rule is once every two years. After the first one, which is bound to have the most leaks to seal, the subsequent duct inspections should reveal fewer leaks. The worst thing you could do is just ignore the ducts altogether. If you aren’t sure when the last time you had your ducts inspected was, call Imagine Energy. We provide duct sealing and other indoor air quality services in the Portland area.

How a Dirty Air Filter can Lead to Heating Repair

March 4th, 2015

In any forced air heating system, you’re going to find an air filter. The air filter is installed in the air return duct for the system, and is designed to protect it from any dust or debris that might damage it while simultaneously allowing air to flow through unimpeded. Though it does this job well, the air filter has one major problem: it has no way to get rid of the particles it captures. As such, if the air filter isn’t cleaned or replaced every few months, it becomes clogged and starts causing problems. Let’s take a look at how ignoring a dirty air filter can lead to heating repair.

Restricted Air Flow

An air filter that becomes clogged with dust and other particles can restrict or even completely block the flow of air through the system. This has two effects. First, it deprives the heater of its supply of air to heat. This prevents the heater from actually distributing heat to the home. Second, it causes the internal temperature of the heater to rise to dangerous levels. Normally, the heater relies on the steady flow of cooler air to keep its temperature in check. Without that cool air, the system will overheat.

There are safety measures in place to prevent the system from damaging itself from overheating. The limit switch is a device that monitors the temperature inside the heater. When the internal temperature rises above the safety limit, the limit switch activates and shuts down the system to prevent damage from overheating. Unfortunately, this does not address the cause of the overheating.

If the source of the overheating isn’t taken care of, another problem occurs. Once the system has cooled off after being shut down by the limit switch, it restarts in response to the thermostat and overheats again. This causes the limit switch to shut down the system again, and the entire cycle repeats endlessly. This is called “short cycling”

Short cycling puts the system under an incredible amount of stress, far more than it was designed to handle. The combination of the increased heat and the strain of the start/stop cycle causes parts to wear out much faster, like the heat exchanger. Eventually, the system will breakdown and require extensive heating repair.

If you think your system may need a new air filter, call Imagine Energy to schedule an appointment. We provide professional heating repair service throughout the West Linn area.

How Proper Insulation Saves You Money

February 25th, 2015

Insulation is something that a lot of homeowners recognize as necessary for keeping their home comfortable. However, far fewer people make the connection between good insulation and saving money. Taking proper care of your insulation is a big contributor to keeping your heating and cooling costs down. Let’s take a look at why maintaining good insulation is so important.

What is Insulation?

Insulation is any sort of material designed to inhibit the transfer of heat from one space to another. In the case of a home, insulation is usually a thick batting material, almost like a blanket. There are also loose insulation particles, which are normally sprayed in places that normal insulation would be difficult to install. The corners of attics are common places for loose insulation.

The purpose of insulation is essentially to isolate your home from the surrounding environment. Heat will always want to move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. In a home with no insulation, that means that heat will escape from the home in winter and infiltrate the home in summer. That’s often quite the opposite of what the homeowner wants, as overheating during the summer and freezing in the winter is hardly comfortable. This is why insulation is used in homes.

Good insulation acts as a barrier between the heat and the area that it wants to escape to. So, a heated home will stay warm in the winter, while an air conditioned home will stay cool in the summer. How does that actually save money? Read on.

How Insulation Actually Saves Money

Heating and air conditioning systems operate on the instructions of the thermostat, which monitors the temperature in a central area of the house. When the temperature gets too high or too low, the thermostat activates the appropriate system to adjust the environment in the house. Without proper insulation, the system will have to spend far more time compensating for the rapid change in temperature. As soon as the heater or air conditioner is done adjusting the temperature, it will quickly go back to whatever it was before. The longer the system has to be on, the more energy it’s consuming and the more it’s going to cost to operate. Proper insulation, on the other hand, causes the effects of the system to last much longer. This means that it doesn’t have to turn on as much and the operating costs will be lower.

If you haven’t had your insulation inspected in a while, call Imagine Energy. We provide professional insulation services in the Beaverton area.

Your Options for Heating Installation in Portland

February 16th, 2015

Not too long ago, homeowners had one of two choices for heating systems: a furnace or a boiler. These days, thanks to advancements in the industry and in product development, there are a number of choices available for home heating. So what’s the best option for you? Your first step for any new heating installation in Portland should be to work with an expert from start to finish; your second step should be to understand what your choices are and how each works, so you can get a good idea of what systems will work best with your home. Here are some of the choices available from Imagine Energy:

Furnaces

Furnaces are the heating systems in about 60% of homes across the US. There are two main types of furnaces, gas and electric (although furnaces can also be powered by propane and oil), and both types require ductwork to deliver the warm air. Furnaces can be very energy efficient, with some high-efficiency models having ratings up to 98%, and gas is clean-burning and convenient for those with access to a gas line.

Boilers

Boilers are part of a hydronic system, which means they heat your home with hot water or steam from the hot water. Boiler systems can be used with radiant heating, radiators and baseboard outlets, and they can be fueled with gas, oil and solid fuel such as wood pellets. Boilers can have efficiency ratings over 90% and can be good systems for allergy sufferers.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling, and work by transferring heat from one location to another. As such, they do not use any fossil fuels for power – just a small amount of electricity. Heat pumps are highly energy efficient and can be used with ductless or ducted systems.

Radiant Heating

Radiant heating works by heating surfaces and allowing the heated surface to radiate the heat outward. There are two types of radiant heating, hydronic and electric, which can be installed into your floors, your ceilings or your walls. A hydronic radiant system will require a boiler.

Geothermal

Geothermal systems harness the latent solar heat from the ground or from water below the frost line to heat your home. Using a loop that is filled with a heat-absorbing fluid, typically an environmentally-friendly anti-freeze, the heat is transferred to a heat pump and then dispersed into your home. To cool your home, the opposite happens. Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient systems available and have a very long lifespan of up to 50 years.

Solar Heating

Solar heating can be broken down into two types: use of photovoltaic panels (PV) that help to significantly reduce the cost of the electrical power that is used to heat your home, or the use of heat-absorbing fluid that is circulated into your home and used for radiant heating. Solar heating is very energy efficient and uses a renewable and sustainable source in the form of sunlight.

As you can see, there are a number of choices available for a new heating installation for your home. Call the experts at Imagine Energy today and schedule an appointment.

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!

Why Use a Tankless Water Heater?

February 4th, 2015

Assuming that you do not heat pots and kettles of water over a stove or hearth in order to bathe and do the dishes, you are probably well aware of just how important your water heater is to your daily routine. If you find yourself in the market for a new water heater, or if your existing system is just unable to provide you with the quality performance that you demand, give Imagine Energy a call. There are a number of different water heaters available on the market today, and determining which is the right make and model for your home and needs can be tricky. Our staff will help you to choose wisely. You may find that a tankless water heater in Portland, OR is the right option for you.

In order to fully comprehend the benefits of using a tankless water heater, it is necessary to first learn how it is that they operate. As you have probably surmised from the moniker alone, a tankless water heater does not utilize a storage tank in order to maintain a reservoir of hot water at the ready. Instead, water is heated as it is called for, instantaneously, in an “on-demand” fashion. There are a few benefits that this allows for.

First of all, tankless water heaters take up much less space than their tanked counterparts. This means that you can store them in a small closet or in your basement without sacrificing any existing storage space. Also unlike tank water heaters, tankless models are not subject to what is known as “standby energy loss.” While today’s water heater storage tanks are quite efficient, they still allow for some heat transfer as they hold onto hot water waiting for use. This means that they must reheat that water from time to time. Eliminating this energy loss can translate to lower energy bills for the homeowner.

If you think that a tankless water heater in Portland, OR may be right for you, just let us know. The outstanding technicians at Imagine Energy are here to handle any tankless water heater services that you may need. That way, you can heat water in your home with the efficiency and confidence that we know you deserve.

Why Invest in Solar Panels in Portland, OR?

January 28th, 2015

With energy costs being as high as they are today, and more and more homeowners putting the environmentally friendly consumption of electricity on their priority lists, it is unsurprising to learn that solar energy has really taken off in recent years. We may not get as much sunshine around these parts as other areas do for much of the year, but that is no reason to ignore the very clear benefits that solar energy has to offer. When properly installed and setup, solar PV (photovoltaic panels) can absorb enough energy to power various systems in your home even when the sun is not brightly shining. To learn more about the operation and installation of solar panels in Portland, OR, just call upon the pros at Imagine Energy.

One of the most obvious reasons in which you may choose to utilize solar panels in Portland, OR is the fact that doing so can help you to greatly cut down on your energy costs. The sun is going to come up every morning, after all, regardless of how you power your home. Why, then, not put that free energy source to use? Yes, there is an initial investment to consider, and the complex solar equipment used to harness the power of the sun is not exactly cheap. However, you will enjoy far greater efficiency than you have previously when powering your living space, and you may also qualify for tax benefits or other perks.

Another reason why so many people are turning to solar energy is the fact that it is clean and sustainable. Solar panels use solar cells in order to absorb energy from the sun. This energy is then converted into electricity which you can use throughout your house. Supplemental energy can even be stored in batteries for later use. You don’t have to worry about carbon emissions and other issues that concern homeowners when using fuel sources or electricity in their homes. Contact us for more details.

The most important thing to remember, when it comes to using solar panels, is the fact that only a skilled, trained professional has the knowledge and expertise to ensure that your solar panels are properly installed and serviced. That is why you should give us a call. You can count on Imagine Energy when it comes to solar panels in Portland, OR.

How Adequate Insulation Benefits You

January 21st, 2015

Everyone wishes to keep their homes warm throughout the coldest nights of winter and cool and comfortable throughout the most punishing heat of the summer season. In order to satisfy such desires, though, you need to ensure that your house is fully equipped to cooperate. This requires much more than just a powerful heating and air conditioning system, especially if you hope to maintain comfortable temperatures all year long with the greatest efficiency possible. To do so, you must have adequate insulation in Portland, OR. If you suspect that your insulation is subpar, or if you have any questions regarding the types of insulation and services that Imagine Energy has to offer, just give us a call today. We have the answers you need to make informed decisions regarding the insulation in your home.

The primary function of insulation, as you probably already know, is to prevent the excessive transfer of heat into or out of your home. This is of the utmost importance, as heat will naturally move from warmer areas to cooler ones. This means that it will try to infiltrate your home during the hot summer months, as you cool your house with your air conditioning system, and heat will try to escape during the cold season, into the cooler environment outside. The same is true of any ductwork through which you circulate conditioned air throughout your house. With sufficient insulation and duct insulation, you can heat and cool your home in an effective and affordable manner.

Professional insulation in Portland, OR is also vital in the attempt to maintain high indoor air quality. When air from the outdoors makes its way into your home, it can bring with it pollutants from the outside environment. Insulation in your walls, attics, and other key points will help to prevent such insurrection. If you have any questions or if you would like to schedule your insulation installation with some of the finest technicians in the business, just let us know. We’ll have our technicians along shortly. We can handle basic insulation services, as well as duct insulation and insulation for attic conversions. Whatever you may need, Imagine Energy will deliver. Call us today to schedule service.