Tag Archives: energy

An Investment with Instant Dividends

While September has been relatively kind to us this year, with more days featuring open windows and balmy breezes than the need to curl up in a warm blanket, October is usually our warning call: Winter’s coming – and Malcarne Contracting’s ready to help you be prepared for future frosty weather.

Now is the time to check on your heating equipment, before waking up to ice on your lawn. It’s critical to maintain your heating system – to have it serviced regularly and change filters – to keep it running at its best. Wondering if your equipment needs a tune up? One call to Malcarne can have you ready to fight back when those glacial temperatures finally arrive.

Investing in something new

But what if a tune up’s not going to cut it this year?

This fall, you may find yourself in the place where your heating system is ready to call it quits, whether it’s at the end of its life or simply is costing you more to run than to replace. In this case, your old system may be doing you a favor: Malcarne Contracting can connect your home with equipment that costs you less to operate.

Bottom line? Your investment in a new heating system can actually pay for itself with the money you save in monthly heating costs. It’s a purchase that literally puts cash back in your pocket.

A financial opportunity – and more

It’s also a prospect that can affect more than just your home. Choosing to switch from a fossil-fuel-burning heating system to a cleaner earth-friendly system is also an investment in the health of our planet.

Yes, bottom line, stepping away from fossil fuels will save you money, but there’s also a bigger profit margin on this one. By choosing another heating option, we also get to be shareholders in the future of our planet. We’ve only got one – let’s not experiment with it too much.

It’s truly a win-win-win: We’re taking care of our resources, our futures and our wallets, all with one phone call to Malcarne.

Seasonal surplus specials

When you’re talking about a yield this good, there’s no time like the present to dive in. In fact, Malcarne’s offering seasonal specials for our customers to get you comfortable and prepared for what’s right around the corner. Curious about what it would mean for you to step away from fossil fuels? We’d love to walk you through the process to making your house cleaner and more energy efficient – and working harder to stack up the savings.

Before fall’s cold fingers wrap around your home – and have you reaching for blankets number two and three – give us a call.

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Get your Home Ready for the next Power Outage!

You’ve planned all year long: Your tablescape is a perfect combination of golds, reds and oranges, straight off the pages of HGTV Magazine. Your turkey, in the oven since the crack of dawn, would make Martha Stewart jealous. You’ve got two dozen of your closest friends and family on their way in a few short hours. And, thanks to a storm, your power just went out.

Sure, it sounds like an evening-before-Thanksgiving-Day nightmare, but especially if you’re living outside the city, power outages can hit pretty regularly, and for a longer period of time at least once a year. And it’s hard to forget last Thanksgiving’s major power failure in Dutchess County, thanks to the area’s first nor’easter of the year, which left thousands without electricity – and on the big feasting day itself!

That’s when it helps to call in the reinforcements, care of a back-up generator installed by Malcarne Contracting. Think of it as insurance: You may only need it sporadically, but, when you do, you’re not sure how you would have made it otherwise.

Whether it’s the biggest feasting day of the year or a typical cold Hudson Valley winter evening, what do you do when there’s a power failure? If you rewind time just a few short decades, a power failure may have been just a minor inconvenience. But with today’s high-tech toys and gadgets – all needing to be charged all at once, at the most inopportune time, of course – the need to work from home, and chest freezers full of stocked-up necessities, it can be a crisis. Plus, add in the fact that you need to keep the house from plummeting to the same temperature as that chest freezer.

A back-up generator means there’s always sunshine, regardless of the weather. Malcarne can offer several options, including the standard portable generator unit that can be stored in a garage and taken out, turned on manually, and used when the need arises. With this kind of unit, it’s important to remember that it must be maintained and operated regularly, and the gas drained and refilled, to keep it functioning well, or it may not work correctly – or at all.

Your best bet? A whole-house backup generator. Set up with an ATS – an automatic transfer switch – this type of generator needs no upkeep or fuss. After the power goes out, there’s a 10-second lapse before the ATS turns on the generator, restoring power and peace-of-mind to your family’s home. Running on propane, a whole-house generator can have a storage capacity of up to a week.

Best of all, when the power returns, it automatically switches off after two minutes – meaning life as you know it never has to miss a beat. Malcarne fits the generator to your house’s size, and can install it quickly – before those nor’easters start rearing their ugly heads.

All in all, it’s a minor change that will mean a major difference, whether you’re hosting a holiday or need to keep your house running status quo regardless of what the weather guys say. And that’s certainly one more thing to give thanks for this year.

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Using Renewable Energy To Offset Your Heating Bills

Whether your gifts are all wrapped and neatly stacked under the tree or you’ll be running on some late-night shopping sprees, holiday merriment hangs heavy in the air – although wallets are usually somewhat lighter. Hold on to the seasonal cheer – and some hard-earned dollars – all year long by taking advantage of renewable energy sources: It’s an investment that can put cash in your pocket for many years to come.

It’s not the most jolly thought, but traditional energy sources – gas and oil, for example – can be not only costly, but will eventually be depleted. Renewable energy sources, including the wind, the ground (used in geothermal heating), and especially the sun, work harder than Santa’s little helpers, never dwindle and, best of all, can cut down those not-so-merry utility bills.

Before even considering a renewable-energy home makeover, Malcarne Contracting experts recommend making sure your home is well-sealed and -insulated, specifically checking the walls, attic and basement for places where warm air can escape outside. After that, have a professional check your heating and distribution systems to get them working to their full potential.

This step, likely an inexpensive fix, can already begin reduce your energy bills without much time, effort or cost, and paves the way for a renewable energy system. Malcarne specializes in installing systems that use the sun to offset traditional heating sources: Solar electric systems, for example, convert the sun’s energy into electricity via roof panels, while a solar thermal system utilizes “solar walls,” panels installed on the side of a home, to use the sun to heat water. Once they’re in place, your home can use as much of the sun’s light and energy as it needs – but it’s both eco- and wallet-friendly.
Although renewable energy significantly cuts down on energy bills, there is an upfront cost: It’s an investment, but a wise one for your home and family’s future. For example, a solar electric system may initially cost between $12,000 and $15,000. However, with that price tag come tax credits and incentives, which can reduce the net out-of-pocket expense to between $1,500 and $3,000 after the rebates – less than a minor home upgrade.

Three forms of funding are available for these renewable-energy changes, including a 25 percent state tax credit (capped at $5,000), a 30 percent federal tax credit (with no cap) – both of which can be used until 2016 – as well as incentives available from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

In addition, those at Malcarne say you’re likely to see a payback from a solar electric system in less than a decade, while a solar thermal system takes only about three to five years. And, you may want to put a renewable energy system on your wish list sooner rather than later: These numbers are based on today’s energy prices, which are likely to become more expensive with time. Chances are, because of those rising prices, you won’t have to wait as long to see your investment pay off.

Sure, it may be tempting to sink that Christmas bonus into those holiday presents, but an investment in renewable energy will always put cash back in your pocket, regardless of the market or economy. It’s the gift that truly keeps on giving – even if it doesn’t fit under the tree.

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The Most Efficient Ways To Heat Your Home

A chill’s in the air, the leaves are falling, and it’s almost time to talk turkey. But ever since you switched the thermostat to “heat,” chances are you’re also thinking about how to stop those energy bills from gobbling up your bank account.

Typical homes, even those built in recent years, have the potential for improvement in their heating efficiency. This season, take a stroll through your house: A few small changes can allow you to see a dip in your heating bill, even as the outside temperatures do the same – and won’t require you to don your entire sweater collection at once.

1: The Attic

Want to feel warmer? Firstly, remember that heat rises. Venture into your attic: By having it properly insulated, making sure any openings between the ceiling and the attic floor are sealed, heat won’t be able to escape from your home as easily. If you see light trickling into the attic or gaps around air conditioning and heating ducts, use caulk and insulation to create a thermal barrier, and seal up your attic access, too: Specific “attic tents” are available to make the opening air-tight – key to keeping your heat where you want it.

2: The Basement

Sure, it’s chilly in the basement – a definite plus during summer heat waves – but those concrete floors and cinderblock walls can mean major heat loss in the winter. Block walls have little insulation, so even though your hardworking heating unit cranks out residual energy that could warm the room, much of it escapes outside. Just as in the attic, seal all the gaps from the basement walls to the outside, typically found around windows, doors and the rim joist – where the block wall ends and the framing starts. The residual heat created from your boiler can increase your basement’s temperature as much as 25 degrees – and that heat will rise and warm the rest of the home as well.

3: The Walls

Sealing and insulating the highest and lowest parts of your house can work wonders, but it’s worth it to check inside your home’s walls as well. Some walls may not have any insulation, making it easier for heat to seep out. With proper insulation, heat stays put in your house – and more cash remains in your pocket. As a general rule, insulation is something that’s done best by a professional – although it’s certainly something a homeowner can tackle, especially in your basement and attic. In the basement, at least a foundational knowledge of your heating unit is key, as some air flow is necessary for the system to operate safely.

4: The Distribution System

After insulation’s taken care of, make sure your distribution system – the duct work and piping that deliver the heat generated by your heating unit – is running correctly, at its maximum efficacy. Your heating system, for example, may be working at 70 to 80 percent efficiency, but a distribution system that’s not won’t deliver the heat as well. Fixing this issue can be as simple as rearranging or adding ductwork, or unclogging filters – changes that won’t break the bank.

5: The Heating Appliance

It may seem logical to tackle heating issues by checking out your boiler or furnace first, but, instead, it should be fifth on your list. If your distribution system checks out, it may be time to repair or even change out the unit itself: Furnaces should be replaced every 15 years and boilers every 20 to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your heating buck. This may be a more costly fix, but swapping an old system working at 55 percent efficiency for one running at 95 percent will quickly help your bottom line.

6: Windows & Doors

Although they’re often seen as the best way to create a more heat-efficient home, windows and doors are actually the last place to venture. Double-paned windows may be the standard for homes built in the past 20 years, but if your home is older, it’s likely yours are only single-paned – and less energy-efficient. Still, unless your windows are severely old or damaged, you’ll only save about 3 to 5 percent on your bill by switching to a double-paned replacement. New windows are often costly, but before you drop $300 to $600 on replacements, consider some inexpensive changes. Weather-stripping and plastic coverings – available in kits in home-improvement stores and explained in great detail on YouTube videos – can cheaply seal up drafty windows. And security isn’t the only reason to make sure your locks work: Even if your neighborhood’s safe, be sure your windows and doors latch tightly to seal out cold winter winds.

Thankfully, taking care of insulation and your heating system will almost always cost less than replacing your home’s windows – good news as holiday-season spending approaches. Plus, one Malcarne expert, trained to evaluate your house as a whole, can assess your abode for free. Instead of choreographing appointments with separate insulation, boiler and window experts – who only see your home through their expertise alone – consider a Malcarne staff member, who will understand your entire home, from attic to basement. And with a more energy-efficient, cost-effective home, even winter weather feels warm and cozy.

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Net Zero Energy Homes

You know the feeling: You’ve had out-of-town family visiting for two weeks, which means your dishwasher, showers and clothes dryer have been running practically nonstop. Sure, the grocery bill is through the roof, but it’s those energy prices that truly make you want to head for a vacation of your own. Now imagine the same scenario, but instead of those astronomical energy costs, your home harnesses its own power – which means no matter how long your nephew runs the hot water or the teenagers leave the bedroom lights on, your cost is still the same: Free.

It’s not fantasy: Over the course of a year, a net-zero energy building – a specialty of Malcarne Contracting – provides all the energy it needs to operate for the year, through additions such as solar walls, geothermal heating pumps and solar electric panels. Some months, like the ones including those family get-togethers, may find your home using 500 or 1,000 kilowatts more than you typically generate. But, after accounting for other months when your energy usage is lower than the average, at the end of the year, the amount “net zeros” out, leaving you with no utility bills – whether your home was built for electricity, natural gas, propane, oil or a combination. Homes are still connected to energy companies in case of an emergency or if repairs are needed, so customers always have a backup plan, too.

Whether it’s a new construction or a house you’ve had for years, nearly all buildings can have a net-zero makeover, or at least undergo major energy- and money-saving changes. Phase one of converting homes to net-zero buildings most often means a retrofit: starting with smaller changes that usually make a huge difference. Malcarne employees walk you through how much energy your home uses and how much money proposed changes can save you – before you even think about installing renewable-energy systems. By investing in high-efficiency appliances and LED lighting, and properly insulating walls, ceilings and floors, for example, energy bills are oftentimes slashed in half.

Plus, undergoing a retrofit means your cost to install a geothermal or solar electric system is automatically lowered to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, as the home will be running on less energy with those modifications. In very old or extremely large homes specifically, where it’s not financially realistic or practical to go completely net-zero, a retrofit can save big bucks on energy costs – especially as it’s usually a smaller investment of less than $10,000, depending on the structure.

After a retrofit, adding in the renewable-energy portion – phase two – wipes away any other energy costs. Malcarne can install solar walls, geothermal heating pumps, solar thermal panels and solar electric panels appropriate for your home’s size, keeping it running efficiently year-round. Even if the up-front cost of this phase seems high, the long-term payoff is huge, and by wrapping the price into a mortgage or refinance – and lowering monthly utilities bills immediately – the additional dollars spent actually wind up being less in the long run than paying for traditional energy costs.

Whether you choose to upgrade your home immediately after a retrofit or wait a while before that next step, Malcarne can walk you through each stage of the net-zero energy transformational process at your own pace and budgetary needs. And that’s something to put your mind at ease – especially when next year’s family gathering is already on your calendar.

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Know Your Boiler

Have you hugged your boiler today? Well, that may be taking things a bit far, but are you at least familiar with your boiler? Do you know where it is located in your house? Let’s go even further than that – do you even know what a boiler is?

Don’t be ashamed if you can’t answer all, or even any of these questions. (Disregard the first one, we don’t really want you to hug your boiler.)  Rather, let’s try to see if we can get your more acquainted with this big hunk of machinery in your home.

You may have a conventional boiler lurking in your boiler room.  With these less efficient boilers, fuel (wood, oil, coil, or natural gas) is burned and the heat passes through a heat exchanger where it is transferred to water, which, in turn, raises the water temperature.  Through this, steam is produced, and the steam is the strategic element to heating your home. Voila! You have heat!

The more likely option that you have hiding in your basement is a condensing boiler. (We hope so, because these are much more energy efficient, and Malcarne Contracting likes energy efficiency!) The difference between a conventional boiler and a condensing boiler is the amount of heat that it can produce.  A condensing boiler isn’t a wasteful boiler in that it retains more of its latent heat. (Uh oh – now we have to think way back to chemistry class. Latent heat is basically the amount of energy released when a chemical substance changes from one state to another.) In other words, when steam is produced by your condensing boiler, it is a little smarter than the conventional boiler and extracts any additional heat produced from the waste gases by condensing (hence a condensing boiler) the water vapor into liquid water while the excess gases are expelled outside through a proper ventilation system. (Do you feel smarter yet?)

Typically, conventional boilers are about 70-80%  thermally efficient, compared to condensing boilers, which can be up to 90% thermally efficient. Now, to give you even more efficiency for your hard-earned money, Malcarne Contracting recommends installing a Triangle Tube Boiler.

What is a Triangle Tube Boiler, you ask?  It is one of the most energy efficient residential boilers out there today! If the condensing boiler is smarter than the conventional boiler, then consider the Triangle Tube boiler the Valedictorian. Unlike traditional boilers that only fire once to create heat, the Triangle Tube boiler will modulate its firing rate to meet the energy needs of a given living space! Wow! That’s one smart hunk of machinery! There are many more scientific processes that make this boiler for you, but let’s just keep it simple. Along with tailoring the amount of heat produced to your living space, this little powerhouse (another bonus – it takes up very little space on your wall) also has a quiet operation, which is especially nice if it is installed near a living space.  It is environmentally friendly, has an attractive stainless steel jacket and heat exhanger, and is also really REALLY energy efficient, operating at 95% efficiency!

Now you know more than you ever thought you needed (or wanted) to know about your boiler. Now, go down to the depths of your boiler room and tell your less-energy efficient boiler that it’s not quite cutting the mustard and call Malcarne Contracting for a consultation on installing a new, super-energy efficient Triangle Tube boiler today!

For more information on how the Triangle Tube boiler works, you can visit this website: Triangle Tube. And, as always, don’t hesitate to contact us at Malcarne Contracting at 1-800-798-5844 or email us here!

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Happy National Weatherization Day

Did you know there was such a day as National Weatherization day?  Well, there is! The last weekend in October marked its celebration in which the nation highlighted the energy saving work going on around the country.  Thanks to the Recovery Act passed in 2009, low-income communities around America are being positively impacted by an increase in energy efficiency. Not only are the people living in these communities saving money from energy conservation projects on their homes, but pollution is also being minimized.

Malcarne Contracting wasn’t about to let National Weatherization Day go by without having a big part in it! On October 29th, the New York Housing Authority announced that construction had begun on the 245 apartments in the Beacon Housing Authority – a project funded with close to 2 million from the Weatherization Assistance Program Recover Act.  Joseph Malcarne, of Malcarne Contracting, is working on the project as the Beacon Housing Authority (BHA) Technical Consultant and says that the BHA will be saving close to $200,000 per year in energy operating costs when the project is completed.

Some major aspects of the project include the installation of two solar thermal hot water systems, new insulation and air sealing and Energy Star lighting. These things, combined with the snazzy new solar powered hot water, along with new energy efficient refrigerators will bring the energy savings down to 35-40%! That’s some major savings, especially for low-income families!

Making New York’s communities greener isn’t the only great thing resulting from these types of projects. Matthew Rudikoff, a BHA consultant working on the project alongside Joseph Malcarne, pointed out how this project also creates jobs and construction in a struggling economy. He also mentioned how these energy-saving projects improve the lives of low-income tenants living in such complexes by saving them money on their energy bills.

Congratulations to Malcarne Contracting for being such a huge part in making New York a greener place to live! Not only are they doing it for the low-income families in the Beacon area, but they are also doing it for multiple clients in the Hudson Valley area. If you would like more information on how to make your home more energy efficient, call Malcarne Contracting at 1-800-798-5844 or email them here.

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Hudson Valley Energy Efficiency Through Solar

Way back in 1839, a french physicist by the name of Antoine Cesar Becquerel discovered that voltage developed when light fell upon an electrode – otherwise known as the “photovoltaic effect”. This single observation changed the face of energy forever. From this, came the development of the solar cell which, in turn, led to the development of the solar panel.

When you think about the idea of solar panels, thoughts of  sheer grandiosity in cost and everyday impracticality may come to mind.  Perhaps you are saying, “Eh, solar panels are for rich people,” or asking, “Why spend all that money to save a few pennies?” Well, those two things are simply, and very definitely FALSE!

First of all, solar panels are not only for rich people, they are for anybody interested in being more energy efficient in their homes.  This goes hand in hand with the erroneous assumption that the money saved will barely outweigh the money spent to get them. You would be positively ASTONISHED to see how much money solar panels can save on your energy bills! For example, just a few hot water solar panels can save you 20% on fuel consumption! AND, if you combined those little hot water solar panels with a solar panel wall on the side of your house, you could save ANOTHER 20%! And that’s not all – install some solar electric panels and save 100% on your electric bill! YES – 100%!!! Thank you Mr. Becquerel.

Aside from saving you money, using solar panels will give you some brownie points in the “living green” category. By reducing your fuel consumption, the carbon footprint you will inevitably leave behinds gets a little less massive. Thanks to the findings our friendly french physicist of old, the photovoltaic effect allows builders like Malcarne Contracting to wave their magic wands (or hammers and nails) to turn the sun’s energy into electricity through the installation of solar panels. Voila! Instant savings on the green in your wallet, and the green in your front yard.

As far as the cost of solar panels, the net out of pocket investment will be between $10,000 and $20,000. (Of course, individual pricing varies.) But do the math. You can save yourself up to 40% on fuel consumption and 100% on electricity through the use of solar panels. That’s a lot of green. Brownie points!

To get more information on Solar Panels and ways to make your home more energy-effecient, Contact “The Hudson Valley’s Energy Smart Builder” Malcarne Contracting!

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