When most homeowner guides talk about making your home more energy efficient, conversation always leads toward what you can do in your own home. In order to be more energy efficient, you can buy more efficient appliances for example – a new Energy Star rated appliance can help you save energy and water significantly over the course of a year.

But what about outside the home?

How Water and Energy Are Related

Water and energy are closely related. In fact, having a clean, reliable water source available to us for use throughout our communities consumes a considerable amount of energy. The clean water that flows out of your tap undergoes a variety of stages of processing and transport before it arrives safely in our neighborhoods.

Energy is used in five stages in the water cycle:

  1. Extracting the water supply – water starts at the source – in rivers, streams or aquifers – and then must be pumped into storage facilities for further processing
  2. Water treatment – energy is used as the water goes through various stages of processing and treatment
  3. Water distribution – once the water is properly treated, it must be transported to its final destination – your home, place of work, commercial location, etc
  4. Using water – energy is used to consume water in its final form – it can be combined with softeners, used with filters, circulated with appliances, converted from hot to cold, or used in irrigation systems
  5. Treating wastewater – as water is used, it is returned to the system and pumped back to the treatment plant for processing

Each stage uses a significant amount of energy.

  • In order to bring the water in from source, process it, and get it to its final destination, it must be transported. Pumping groundwater to the surface and over the land is a very energy intensive process. In many major areas, water can be pumped and transported hundreds of miles from the source before it is used.
  • The average home uses around 15 percent of its energy costs to heat water. Nearly 30 percent of all indoor water use is with hot water. Because hot water is used for so many things, it is important to reduce energy where you can.
  • After wastewater leaves your home or commercial location and flows into the sewer, it must be pumped back to the treatment plant for processing. On average, it takes anywhere from 500 to 1500 kilowatt hours per acre foot.

Saving energy is something that can occur at every level, with even the tiniest change adding up significantly over time. If you would like to learn even more about saving energy within your own home, contact us today for a home energy audit.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

Ready to make a difference in your home’s efficiency? Want to save more water, save more on your energy bills, and improve the one appliance in your home that will have the greatest impact overall? Look no further than your water heater.

Buying A Hybrid Electric Water Heater

The water heater was invented in the late 1800s, and though a lot of advancements have been made over the years, we still use the basic concepts designed all those years ago. Water heaters come in a variety of sizes and styles. You can find electric or natural gas; tank or tankless; even solar has turned the heads of some savvy homeowners. Or look to one of the newest entries into the water heater market: the hybrid.

The hybrid electric water heater uses heat pump technology with the traditional electric heating system already in place with most electric water heaters.

Hybrid technology is designed to absorb heat in ambient air and transfer that heat into the water supply. Since radiant heat requires much less energy for processing than the heating process used in a traditional electric tank water heater, the energy savings can quickly add up.

How quickly? Studies show that the average homeowner that switches from a conventional electric water heater to a hybrid electric water heater can save on average up to 60 percent in overall electric bill savings per year. Which means you can pay for the water heater in as little as three years.

When you choose a hybrid water heater, you have the choice of different operating modes for maximum efficiency.

Hybrid mode – the default mode, designed to use the heat pump in combination with back up electric elements when needed to provide hot water as needed

Heat pump mode – when ambient conditions allow, only the heat pump is used to pull in heat from the surrounding area to create the hot water supply

High demand mode – for use when higher demand is needed, the back up electric elements will be used to recover the tanks hot water supply faster

Standard mode – uses only the traditional heating elements to heat the water supply

Vacation mode – allows homeowners to save money while away from home, this mode will drop the temperature down to 50 degrees to save heating, and will automatically begin heating the supply a day before you will return

Want even more information on how you can save with a hybrid electric water heater? We’d be happy to evaluate your current water heater, give you more details on a hybrid, and help you make a decision on the best water heater choice for your home. Give us a call today.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

If you’re like most homeowners, you tend not to shop for a new water heater until your existing one fails. Then once it fails, its imperative that you fix it as fast as possible to get your home back on track, so you spend little time evaluating your options. By doing it this way, you can miss out on which options are truly best for your situation, and finding the right choice to not only save money, but save energy down the road.

What Is A Heat Pump Water Heater

If your home uses an electric water heater, you can choose an electric heat pump water heater that uses pump technology to provide a more efficient way to heat water than the standard electric model probably in your home today.

A heat pump water heater has three basic components: an evaporator, a compressor and a condenser. To understand how it works, think about how your refrigerator works, then reverse the process. A refrigerator removes heat from inside its shell and expels it out into the air around it. A heat pump water heater takes the heat from surrounding air and transfers it into the enclosed tank of the water heater.

A heat pump water heater operates in several different modes, depending on the demand from the users in your home. Because they have the ability to switch between operating modes, these water heaters are often referred to as hybrid water heaters. With a heat pump water heater, you will have a control panel to change operating modes, which include:

  • Efficiency mode – maximizes energy efficiency by only using the heat pump to heat water
  • Hybrid mode – this is usually the default setting, and will provide energy efficient water heating with sustained heat
  • Electric mode – this is your high demand mode, using only the electric element to heat the water
  • Vacation mode – this gives you the ability to put your water heater into sleep mode while you are away or on vacation (not available on all models)

In general, a heat pump water heater requires more space than its electric counterpart. Hybrids should be installed in an indoor space of at least 1,000 cubic feet. Since the hybrid will extract heat energy from that space, this room will be cooler than the rest of your home. The larger the space, the less impact the unit will have on the room’s temperature. The warmer the space, the better performance the heat pump water heater will have. They are great at using up heat waste from washing machines and dryers, furnaces and boilers; which means they are great additions to basement utility rooms where you can keep all appliances in a similar location.

How much will you save? The standard answer is “results will vary”. But in my experience customers can typically save up to 50 percent on their water heating costs, which is significant considering a water heater is one of the highest energy using appliances in your home.

Have any additional questions? Give us a call; we’d be happy to share our knowledge and answer any questions you may have about heat pump water heaters.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

Is this the season you make your home a little more energy efficient? If so, where should you put your focus? What’s the one area of your home that has the highest level of energy consumed? If you said you water heater, you are correct.

Your water heater accounts for 15 to 25 percent of the overall energy your home consumes. Which means its also the one appliance that can add up to real savings when you’re ready to make a change.How To Save Money With Your Water Heater

It starts with your water heater … when was the last time you had it replaced? Water heaters today are much more energy efficient than even just a few short years ago. Yet beyond replacing it, there are other things you can do as well.

Lower the thermostat

Water heaters often come out of the factory with a high setting. For normal day to day use, setting it at 120°F will provide enough hot water for use, without heating it higher than the average person will ever use from the tap. Which means anything above 120°F is simply a waste of energy. Lowering your water heater by 10°F can add up to a savings of 3 to 5 percent over time.

Use cold water instead of hot to wash clothes

Instead of washing small loads of clothes, fill it up before starting the machine. And if you wash with cold instead of warm or hot, you can save energy too.

Repair leaks immediately

One of the biggest water wasters is a leak. Even if the drip is barely noticeable, it can quickly add up to a huge energy waster over time. If you see water when a faucet is turned off, or you hear a trickle of water, investigate and fix as soon as possible. It can also save you from more costly repairs down the road.

Insulate

Insulating your hot water pipes and your water heater tank will reduce heat loss and can help keep water temperatures up to 4 degrees higher than without. This also allows you to set your water heater at a lower temperature setting. Be sure to insulate pipes that are impacted by colder temperatures (outside wall plumbing), and cover pipes six feet from the connection to the water heater. Insulate the water heater tank as well, being careful not to cover the heater’s top, bottom , thermostat or burner compartment. When in doubt, call in one or our plumbing technicians for advice.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

Did the latest cold snap leave you yearning for winter? Ready to pull out your skis and hit the slopes? While winter is one of the best seasons in Colorado, with so much to do and offer right in our own back yard, it can still catch you off guard if your home isn’t prepared.

The last thing we’re ever ready for is waking up, turning on the shower, and only having a cold stream facing us as we get ready for our day ahead.

Getting Your Water Heater Ready For Winter

In order for your water heater to work properly year after year throughout its useful life, its important for you to maintain it along the way. There are three things that should be done in order to ensure your water heater keeps working as efficiently as possible throughout the year.

Insulate it

Where is your water heater? What condition does it live in month after month, year after year?

Poor insulation around your water heater not only robs you of money during the winter, it also robs your water heater from working as efficiently as possible. And therefore shortening its useful life. Insulating your water heater means that the heating elements do not have to work harder than normal or be used on a constant basis trying to keep your water warm. This can translate into lower operating costs year round. It can also translate to the parts in your water heater – your heating elements – lasting longer because they aren’t used on a continual basis.

Tune it up

Everything in life with moveable parts needs an occasional tune up to make sure it stays in good working condition. Your water heater is no exception. A tune up makes sure your water heater is ready for the upcoming season; to prepare it to give you the hot water you demand in any condition.

Many people use hot water more frequently in winter as a way of warming up from the bitter cold outside. Nothing feels as good as a steaming hot shower to help bring you back to warmth after playing outside in the cold. This is where your tune up can help. It may be something as simple as cleaning the unit, or it may mean replacing a part or two. In any case, a professional plumber can quickly assess the working condition of your water heater and make the necessary changes to ensure your water heater is in the best working condition possible for the months ahead.

Temperature

Depending on where your water heater is stored, the air temperature around your water heater can be 10, even 20 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. This may lead to colder water being delivered to the fixtures throughout your home. A simple way of increasing its efficiency is by moving the thermostat temperature up in the winter to ensure you have an adequate supply of hot water.

Have other questions about your water heater, water efficiency, or ensuring you have hot water throughout your home? Schedule a water heater tune up visit today.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

What’s the most damaging thing in your home? Water. Water can slowly accumulate and cause extensive damage, or can quickly destroy in an instant. In all cases, the problem usually starts with one of the most common appliances in your home that you use on a daily basis. If it has pipes connected to a water line, it has the potential for serious flooding if left unchecked.

Most Common Appliances That Can Flood Your Home

1. Water Heaters

Your water heater is one of the largest water holding tanks in your home, and if it breaks, you’ll have an instant flood of water. Yet water heaters rarely fail without tell-tale signs first. Proper maintenance and yearly checkups will allow you to fix and replace before many gallons of water quickly flood out your home. If you do notice signs of a leak or puddling water, speed is of the essence. Leaks are usually due to malfunctioning temperature and pressure relief valves, or due to corrosion in the water tank itself. If you flush water through the tank to clear out debris and you still have a leak, it’s a sure sign your tank needs replacing.

2. Toilets

Toilets usually cause damage by a slow leak around the base of the toilet, or a sudden flood due to a clogged drain and a sudden overflow. With a sudden overflow, start by plunging. If plunging doesn’t work, the clog could be deeper in the pipes either inside or outside of your home, or may be caused by a malfunctioning float that allows too much water into the tank.

3.Washing Machines

The six most common areas a washing machine leaks are the inlet connections, the hose connections, the center post gaskets, the outer tub seal, the air dome seal, and the pump. If any of these areas are leaking, unplug your washing machine, turn off the water main and begin trouble shooting each feature one at a time. While puddling around the washing machine can be caused by any of these features, keep in mind that it can also be caused from a clogged floor drain.

4. Dishwashers

Dishwashers can overflow for a variety of reasons. If you use too much detergent, or the wrong type of detergent, the water has nowhere to go but out of your dishwasher. As your dishwasher washes away food particles, in some cases the food can clog the strainer or cause the float switch to fault. Simply remove the strainer and wash with a stiff brush, or replace the float switch with a new one. If your dishwasher is not leaking because of one of these issues, its likely caused by a plumbing issue, in which case a plumber will need to be called in to check the pipe fittings, connections, or to determine where the drainage problem exists.

5. Refrigerators

Refrigerators are natural attractors to moisture. Their sole purpose is to keep things cold or frozen, and every day it goes through a process of cooling and warming up depending on how many times you open the door and what items you put in or take out. As warm air passes over the condenser coil, condensation is created, which often pools water at the bottom of your refrigerator. Though refrigerators are outfitted with a drain line to allow this excess moisture to drain away, it can easily become blocked with bits of food, preventing the drainage process. If drain lines aren’t cleaned on a regular basis, you can quickly find a flood on your kitchen floor.

Another problem area for refrigerators is the water supply line that feeds your ice machine and your water supply in the door of your refrigerator. Should this become unattached, you’ll quickly find a large flood of water standing in your kitchen.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

Your home contains a series of networks and systems that provide you with all of the modern conveniences we know and expect today. While the plumbing system is a series of pipes that run from top to bottom of your home, the water heater is the heart of it all controlling where water goes and at what temperature. Its also the most expensive. Keeping it in good, working condition will guarantee that you have an efficient home with water when and where you choose at any time of the day.

And while it will generally work without a second thought, there are some problems that will normally occur, some easier to fix than others. The key is speed; the quicker you fix things, the less likely a large problem will occur. And with water, that’s a fairly important guarantee to have.

Does My Water Heater Need Professional Repair?

The first problem area to watch out for is temperature. Have you ever thought to yourself, the shower seems to need longer to heat up than normal. If you notice it, its probably a sign something is changing with your hot water supply.

  • It could be a temperature gauge that is wearing out.
  • It could be sediment building up in your tank, making your water heater not as effective as it once was.
  • It could be higher usage – have you had guests?
  • It could be a clog in your plumbing lines.

Another problem could be age. If you live in an older home and have an older water heater, the parts won’t be as effective as they would be on a new water heater. If you hear noises, have trouble producing hot water on an regular basis, or find a change in your water supply, it may be worth having a plumber in to evaluate and make recommendations. A typical water heater is designed to last 10 to 15 years, anything older could be signs of near-future problems.

Finally, its also important to watch for leaks. Those small drips and shallow pools that form around your water heater could be a sign up a leaky pipe, a leaky connection, or a tank that is about to break. If you don’t fix leaks within your water heater immediately, you risk flooding and water damage to your home.

Have further questions about your water heater? Don’t wait for a problem; have one of our plumbers evaluate your water heater and give you assurance you need you’ll have hot water without the risk for the coming year.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

10. You have no idea the last time your water heater was replaced. Most water heaters last between 10 and 15 years. If yours is older or you aren’t sure when it was last replaced, it may be nearing the end of its life.

9. When you turn on the hot water, the clear water you are used to turns to a rusty color that is anything but pleasing.

8. You turn on the hot water to find no hot water. This can be caused by one of two things. One, your pilot light is out or the circuit breaker has tripped. Or two, your hot water heater has reached its useful life.

 10 Signs You Need A New Water Heater

7. Muddy or sandy water can be a sign of sediment build up in your tank. In some cases you can drain the contents to remove sediment and bring your water heater back to normal.

6. When you turn on the hot water, it has a metallic smell and taste to it. This is a sign that the water heater is breaking down, with grit and flakes from the inner tank combining with your water supply.

5. Warm water but not hot water can be an indication of your heating element burning out. Adjust your thermostat to make sure the temperature is set between 120 to 140 degrees, anything lower could provide warm but not hot water.

4. How often do you use hot water in your home? A home with a family of six that actively uses hot water all day long will have a water heater with a shorter life than an individual living alone and frequently not at home due to travel arrangements.

3. Noise is always an indicator. If you hear your water heater – loud cracks and pops for instance – it may be an indication that the interaction between the heating elements and the inside heater has mineral build up on them.

2. Repairs keep adding up. When something keeps breaking, causing problems, or otherwise gives you trouble, it’s a sign that more problems are sure to come. And when that happens, sometimes your best route is to replace it before serious damage impacts your life.

1. Leaks are never a good thing. If you notice water puddling around your water heater, or it leaks when standing, it’s a sign the inner tank has reached the end of its life. Slow drips and leaks quickly escalate, causing serious flooding if the entire tank breaks.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

Is it time to invest in a new water heater? With even a small amount of research, its easy to get confused on what water heater to buy. Everyone says to go with new technology – tankless water heaters are the best. But what about the standard tank-type water heater, is that still a viable option?

Tank Water Heaters

Most water heaters in existing homes, and even on the market today are tank water heaters, also known as storage water heaters. They are insulated tanks that can hold anywhere from 20 to 120 gallons of water, depending on the the size of your home and your needs. They run either on an electric heating element or a gas burner. The storage tank feeds from the top down, with hot water stored at the top and cold at the bottom. This way you get consistent hot water until the hot water stored is depleted. Most water heaters will be rated by a “first hour rating”, which tells you how many gallons of hot water can be delivered in an hour.

Because you don’t demand hot water all the time, the tank water heater will store hot water and leave it in storage until you demand it. Even though its insulated, it will have heat loss, especially when the temperature outside drops significantly.

Advantages of Tank-Type Water Heaters

Tankless Water Heaters

To address this issue, tankless water heaters were developed. The great feature of a tankless water heater is they never run out of hot water because its on demand, providing the water heating capacity is large enough to meet the needs of the hot water demands. They won’t have a stand-by loss because nothing is stored.

However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t without problems. Tankless water heaters can cost anywhere from triple to quadruple more than the average tank model, with increased installation costs as well. That means it will take many more years to break even from the initial cost.

Tankless water heaters have a significantly greater maintenance requirement than its tank water heater counterpart, meaning you may have much higher costs in keeping the unit running, especially in high demand homes. The more you use it, the more can go wrong.

Tankless also list a benefit of having hot water on demand. That depends on where your tankless water heater is, and where you demand it. If your tankless water heater is in the south side of your basement, and your bathroom is in the north part of your home on the second story, the hot water still must travel from the water heater to your faucet. Which means it can still take a minute or two to arrive, depending on the size of your home. And in some large houses, one tankless water heater simply can’t keep up with the demand, which means your investment costs may double to have an adequate supply.

Bottom line: tank water heaters, especially if you invest in one of the highest energy rated models available, still make the most sense for the majority of Colorado households. Give us a call today and we can answer any of your questions.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

Every single appliance in your home is rated to last for a certain amount of time. For your water heater, you’ll typically find they will last anywhere from 6 to 12 years.

How To Make Your Water Heater Last LongerThere are two major factors when it comes to adding longevity to a water heater: how hard your water is, and how much water it heats over time. Hard water has more minerals than a softer water supply, meaning your water heater tank can have a build up in a much quicker time frame. And if you have a full household that demands hot water all the time, your water heater will be working harder than the norm.

In every city, you’ll hear the terms hard water and soft water. What that is referring to is the quality of the water supply, and how many minerals exist in it. Depending on the source of the water supply, it will contain many different types of minerals. It can also contain debris picked up as it travels along the system. The more minerals in the water the supply, the harder the water supply is.

How much sediment you have in your water supply largely depends on where you live and what your city supplies. A small amount of sediment won’t impact your water heater much over its useful life. But if you have harder water with a high concentration of minerals, the sediment may build up quickly, which can have a significant impact.

A deep layer of sediment takes up room in your tank, room normally given to the water. It will reduce the amount of hot water available for your use, and over time give less and less hot water for use. It can also clog the drain valve and possibly affect the efficiency of the water heater. In addition, if sediment begins to affect the heat transfer system, it can overheat and weaken the steel, and damage the lining of the tank.

The simplest way to add more life to your water heater is to perform regular maintenance and clean out the sediment on a regular basis. This can be a do it yourself project, or you can have a plumber come in for a regular maintenance check to clean out the debris and check the overall quality of your water heater.

Plumbing Repair Services

Quality 1st Plumbing Repair is a full-service plumbing contractor serving Metro Denver.  We are licensed and insured, and our technicians are professionally trained in the repair and installation of all plumbing systems and fixtures. We are Colorado’s FIRST Licensed and Accredited GreenPlumbers! Visit our website

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