Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Should You Switch From Electric to Gas Furnace?

To most commercial and residential property owners around Humble, the common ideal is that electric heating is a more economically sound choice than gas. It would seem that electricity would be cheaper to run than gas with a much reduced strain on the environment to boot.Electric or Gas Fireplaces As it turns out though, many of these property owners are finding out that gas heating from an efficient furnace actually provides savings over electricity. Therefore the switch from an electric furnace to a gas one is gaining steam.

Why Switch to Natural Gas

Something to be considered is that when switching over to natural gas (or installing in a new house) you can also convert the water heater, dryer, and other appliances which is where you receive your cost savings. Gas is about 3-4 times cheaper than electricity (4p/kWh to 15p/kWh) and the savings could possible reach up to $1,500 per year when switching the meters from electric to gas. The reason for the savings is because gas is more efficient – approximately 90% reaches you compared to about 30% of the energy used to create electricity.

For some homeowners the cost alone is reason enough to convert from gas to electric heat but it is by far not the only benefit. For those who cook often at home, a gas stove offers more dialed in control over temperatures and pots and pans get heated more evenly which results in a better tasting meal. Many homeowners also feel that gas water heaters deliver a more constant supply of warm water than their electric counterparts. Gas appliances can also be used when the power is out – something electric units cannot boast.

Can Your Home Accommodate Natural Gas?

Before pondering over the question of whether to switch to gas from electric, you need to make sure the option is a capability. For instance, a main gas line needs to be in the vicinity and there needs to be an unobstructed path from pipe to home. Most developments are natural gas capable but cabins or farmland may not be.

Should You Convert?

Once you know you can make the conversion, the next question to ask is should you? The ultimate decision comes down to a customer by customer basis and your current situation. Are your electric bills manageable because of low usage/a small household? Will the conversion require switching out of appliances that are less than five years old? Will your potential savings ever recoup the initial costs for trenching, gas line installation, new appliances, etc? Do you currently have an electric forced air furnace or are do you have radiators and electric baseboards?

Many of these costs can be recouped monthly with lower utility bills but also depend on how much longer you plan to occupy the property. That being said, gas over electric heating is a selling point which drives up market value and may lure potential buyers so the reclaim may be sooner than expected. Some energy saving rebates are also available for conversion from electric to gas.

We understand there are many things to consider in the debate of gas or electric furnace and appliances in your home. Feel free to contact us for more specific information about your exact situation.


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Lighting Tips for a Bright Kitchen

Lighting is important in every area of your home for functionality, style, and to improve the overall health of each room. Not only should lighting be there, it should also come in a variety of forms from natural to aesthetic to ambient, task, and accent. This combination of lighting in each room helps improve the looks of the room but also serves definitive purpose.

Kitchen LightingAccording to 9 out of 10 real estate agents the kitchen is the most important room in the house (master bedroom being the other) and it could be time to reevaluate the lighting in this area that is used for meal prep, eating, and entertaining. Depending on the home’s layout the kitchen may also be the first part of the home that is entered so versatile lighting is very important.

A quality electrician can rewire your kitchen to include all the important lighting basics. The room must be bright enough for cooking (task lighting), should be relaxing and comfortable when eating (aesthetic lighting) and should be safe as an entry way into the house (accent lighting). Here are some tips on how we help you achieve these kitchen lighting goals.

Layering is important in a kitchen because the room serves so many purposes. A constant bright light is useful for cooking but annoying when trying to enjoy cocktails with guests. Accent lighting sets the mood but strains the eyes when trying to read recipes, and so on. Layering puts lights at different levels in the kitchen and we install switches to help these zones operate independently.

Natural Light 

Natural light comes from a kitchen window or with reflective countertops, appliances, floors, etc. Natural lighting is very important to help eliminate the need for light usage during the day.

Ambient Light 

Ambient is also known as general lighting and is used to maintain a constant level of brightness over an entire room. Installing these types of lights helps you avoid ‘dark zones’ and even though multiple fixtures may account for the light, they are typically controlled from one central switch. Ambient lighting is a must-have in kitchens whether it comes via can lights, sconces, hanging bulbs, etc.


Many of our clients are enamored with task lighting which brighten up certain ‘work zones’ in the kitchen. This is most frequently found on food prep areas or over the kitchen sink but can also be fitted over counters or tables where homework or reading the newspaper is done. The controls for task lighting focus on centralized locations to both save on energy drain and to make work more comfortable.


Accent or aesthetic lighting is interesting because it can be wired in your kitchen to either draw attention or just serve as a subtle background. We can install accent lighting under countertops or around backsplashes to provide a soft light that both sets the mood but also creates a safe walkway at night. Then again, accent lighting can also be outfitted to draw attention to a particular painting, sculpture, kitchen piece, etc. that serves as the room’s focal point.

The best way to plan a lighting strategy for your kitchen is to see what you have and determine what you want / need. We accomplish this with on-site visits and develop a plan that is the most non-invasive as possible. Contact us today to take the first steps in improving the lighting in the most important room in your home.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Don’t Have Hot Water? Some Things to Try Before Contacting a Plumber

Simply put, your home needs hot water. Going without hot water does much more than create an inconvenience, it can alter your work career (being late, looking disheveled), damage your clothes, and cause health risks when preparing your food. You’ve likely gone a few hours without hot water before but much longer than  that slowly becomes an emergency situation.

Of course the best way to restore hot water immediately is with a call to your trusted local plumber, Elite Comfort. While we always respond quickly, we also look out for your best interest and offer you these simple tips to try before giving us a call:

1. Check the Pilot Light

Over half the time (and likely 75% or more) the issue of no hot water has to do with your pilot light being out. The pilot light fires up the burners which heat the water before it is delivered through your plumbing. Obviously if that light is out, the water won’t get warm so check this through the front of the tank. If it’s out, follow the instructions on the control panel to relight.

2. Flip the Circuit Breaker

You’ll definitely notice when the power is out in the whole house but a tripped breaker to the utility room might fly under the radar. If you aren’t receiving hot water in your fixtures a quick troubleshooting of the breaker box will determine if a flipped circuit is the problem.

3. Set the Thermostat

In some instances your water heater could be running perfectly except for the fact that the thermostat has accidentally been turned down. This could happen if it is bumped in a utility room or if it was set lower for the warmer months. Make sure that the thermostat is set somewhere between 120° and 140°. If so and the water is still not hot we may have to install a replacement for the malfunctioned thermostat.

4. Check for Tank Leaks

Water and metal aren’t the best friends in the world so leaks in a water heater are very common. Check the fittings on the top of the tank where water enters and leaves and also inspect the side of the tank for noticeable drips from the pressure relief valves. Sometimes the leaks can be fixed by tightening the fixtures with a pipe wrench but other times they are a sign that a replacement tank is needed or there are internal issues. It never hurts to call us for an inspection just to provide sound peace of mind.

5. Test the Elements

If the water heater produces no hot water at all it could be an issue with the upper heating element whereas if there is some warmth the lower element could have gone bad. These can be tested by turning off the power to the water heater, removing the panels and insulation covering the elements, and testing the units with a multimeter. Depending on the wattage of the element it should register between 11 and 16 ohms whereas no reading means a replacement is needed.

6. Wait

Sometimes the easiest fix is simply to wait. As the hot water reserves are used up, the unit needs time to heat up a new supply so if you are doing excessive laundry, dishwashing, and taking multiple showers the resources may just be low.

If none of these quick fixes work, the best bet is to give us a call. Unfortunately water heaters do have a definitive life span (8-15 years) and sometimes they just simply die out.