The Human Touch

Mighty Energy Solutions has always been about providing direct, person-to-person customer service, and affordable, effective, and durable products that help reduce carbon emissions and save energy. And, with more and more of us working from home, we are  looking to improve our spaces. However, with the safety concerns and precautions needed to shop face-to-face in a showroom, online shopping for durable goods and large appliances has increased significantly. And, even as we come out of this unprecedented global crisis, the new level of online shopping is unlikely to revert to pre-pandemic levels.

The good news is that shopping online is better for the environment and our schedules. Online purchases are delivered directly to customers by well-established shipping companies specializing in efficient logistics. The number of cars, borrowed pick-up trucks, etc. driving from showroom to showroom, and carting items home has decreased substantially. This saves people a great deal of time. And has reduced the amount of fuel burned and carbon emissions associated with going out shopping and getting our purchases to our homes.

However, between huge, impersonal platforms such as Amazon, and so many products coming from overseas, working directly with human beings – let alone the same person from inquiry about the products to final delivery – is becoming the exception rather than the rule. And, we have all been made aware of the supply chain issues, increased likelihood of shipping delays, higher rates of damage in transit, and all the rigmarole involved in returning or exchanging products that are either not working properly or not the right fit for the job.

So, when you can call and/or email an actual human being who offers you professional guidance and solid customer service, and who will stick with you throughout the process, it can be a big relief. Mighty Energy Solutions is proud to be among the companies – often small businesses – who have always offered this level of quality service and support.

If you need a new heating system for your remodel, renovation, new build, or just an upgrade of your old system, call us at 206.880.1558 or email us at info@mightyenergy.net to find more about what we can do for you. We will always work to find you the best solution for your project. And we are always happy to assist you every step of the way.

A New Reality Requires a New Approach

This unprecedented pandemic has lasted over two years so far. It has changed the way we live. Even as certain precautions are being eased in the coming weeks, that could change with little notice. Certainly, we all hope the worst is over. However, now that we have learned to make so many adjustments in our lives, we can better prepare for similar events that may come going forward.

We’ve gotten used to wearing masks, social distancing, etc. And we have also seen shifts in how the economy works. Many of us are now working from home instead of going into the office. We are ordering more online and shopping less in stores. There have been seemingly random shortages of various items – even staples such as toilet paper. Most of us have had to endure longer turn-around times on orders, especially of durable goods. Building materials for home improvement projects have been hit hard. Almost everything has gone up in price. And, by now, everyone seems to have heard and used the term ‘supply chain issues’  – some for the first time in their lives.

Mighty Energy has always followed the policy of selling products (and all their components) that are made in the America. Initially, we saw this as a way to reduce the carbon emissions associated with all the shipping involved in gathering and turning raw materials into finished products. It turns out that this policy has also minimized our supply chain issues when compared to many other durable goods. However, our business has not been entirely immune.

Even with products fully made in America, these issues have cropped up. COVID has found its way into factories in the chain. A big uptick in demand for shipping services has strained that system. And manufacturers everywhere are scrambling to find new suppliers, creating greater competition for in-country sources. All of this has resulted in delays and price increases.

No one wants this outcome, and we’re all hoping for a return to a more ‘reasonable’ status quo. It’s hard to know when this will happen. And it’s just as hard to say and what ‘reasonable’ will mean. So, part of the adjustment is going to require planning ahead a little further out. Budgets are going to be trickier to work-out. The work itself has become more difficult to schedule. It would be good, in this respect, to consider what efficiency and durability mean to this process.

For example, Ducoterra heating panels have a lifetime warranty, will last decades, and electric infrared heating systems in general have the lowest cost of ownership over time. They are among the easiest heating systems to fix. And, if something does go wrong, it won’t leave your whole house without heat if you need to send a heater to the factory for repair or replacement.

Also, as our factories have faced all the various curve balls thrown at them, they have made adjustments that render the all-American supply chain far more stable than could be accomplished using overseas components, let alone supplying imported products.

One final thing to consider is that, more and more, we are finding it safest to gather outdoors whenever possible. This can be a pleasant adjustment in any case. However, the weather does not always allow it. So, many people are working on projects to cover patios and decks. And, to get as much as a hundred extra days a year of use out of these spaces, people are installing INFRATECH infrared patio heaters. INFRATECH has been around for fifty years and are the standard in quality, outdoor heating solutions. So, if you are going to spend the money to make your outdoor spaces more friendly, and your gatherings more pandemic resistant, you may want to invest in making those spaces comfortably usable much more of the time. And infrared radiant heat is the only way to effectively ‘heat the great outdoors.’

We have all received hard lessons in not knowing what to expect in this tumultuous time. But, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that with the proper steps and preparation, we can stay ahead of the curve and weather these kinds of global storms in greater comfort and safety for the long haul.

For more information and answers to any questions you may have about infrared radiant heating solutions, please call 206.880.1558 or email info@migthyenergy.net.

A Flexible Approach to Heating Challenges

Architects, contractors, and specialty trades all know that having many approaches to solve the challenges of their client’s projects gives them a great advantage. One area where this can be particularly true is in how a building is heated.

No Ducts – Only Architecture

Mini-split ductless heat pump systems are an extremely efficient heating solution for projects with large, open-concept spaces. There are no ducts and vents to install.  The conditioned air moves directly from the cassette through the rooms and hallways. And it provides both warm and cool air for all-season comfort. Also, the only connection between inside and out are a couple of pipes for the refrigerant. So no outdoor air pollutants are pumped into your house.

Cool air moves downward. So, mini-splits do a great job of cooling your space. However, in colder months, since warm air rises, the further a room is from the cassette, the less heat reaches it. This can cause ineffective heating and create cool spots/rooms. One solution, of course, is to install multiple cassettes in various rooms throughout the home. However, this quickly gets costly, and requires multiple  holes in the exterior walls for the refrigerant plumbing to reach the multiple cassettes. And every penetration of the building envelope increases the risk of temperature exchange with the outside. Sure, a ducted heat pump could be installed instead, but those are also costly and have limits to their effectiveness. Additionally, it means more moving parts that can fail, and increases the chance that refrigerants will leak.

This is where electric, infrared radiant heat comes in as a great supplement to cover insufficiently heated spaces. This solution also requires no ducting and, in fact, no further penetrations in the building envelope. As easy to install as can lighting, it rounds out the system at a lower cost, allows for room by room control. And, with no moving parts, it will likely last as much as twice as long as the mini-split itself.

Less Can be More Appropriate

In the case of small, tightly built ADU/DADUs, and additions, mini-splits are generally overkill both for what the space needs in terms of heating power and often even cooling power, as well as for the client’s bank account. Once again, infrared radiant heat fits the bill perfectly: no mechanical room to add, no ducts, no holes in the exterior walls. Just wire and mount them, and you’ve provided your client with efficient, cozy heat that can readily be controlled with the simplest thermostat or the most sophisticated home management system. Ducoterra ultra-slim, infrared radiant ceiling panels are especially favored by designers as they are completely silent, paintable, nearly invisible, and carry a lifetime warranty. 

Retrofitting an Upgrade

If your client needs to replace an hydronic system with a broken boiler or leaky plumbing, or a faulty electric furnace, you will keep their costs down with a brand-new infrared radiant system. And you can get them back the space used up by the boiler and registers, or furnace and ducts. Or, you can get rid of noisy, inefficient cadet heaters and obtrusive baseboards with clean, silent, far more efficient heaters that are up and out of the way.

Cost Effectiveness and Custom Comfort at Scale

Maybe you have a big job like a high-rise condo or office building, and the bathrooms or individuated office spaces need primary or supplemental heat. Wires are much easier and less expensive to install into each of these spaces than hydronic plumbing or forced air ducting. Even multiple head mini-split ductless systems quickly become cumbersome solutions for these rooms. And, at these scales, the costs, especially for installation,  rapidly add up. Infrared radiant heat can be the perfect solution to keep costs down, customize, and manage heat distribution to occupied spaces.

Concerns about the new energy code? We’ve got you covered. 

Are you a homeowner working with a contractor uneasy about using something they haven’t used before? Let’s all jump on a phone or video meetup.

Call 206.880.1558 or email sales@mightyenergy.net

Smart Thermostats: Control is Key to Heating Efficiency

When speaking of energy efficiency of heating a space, the focus is often placed on the efficiency on one component or another. If we look more deeply, we realize that the efficiency of the least efficient part of the system dictates the energy of the system. This is the limiting factor.

For example, if a solar panel came on the market tomorrow that could turn 60% of the sunlight falling on it into useable electricity, it would be heralded as a significant breakthrough, and it certainly would be. It would mean that the same square footage of rooftop could produce over three times what is currently realistic from contemporary panels. However, the sun does not shine at night. So, the efficiency and capacity of power storage (or return to the grid) is likely more important to the overall efficiency of the system than that of the panels.

And it’s one thing to be able to provide more power throughout the day and night, and yet another to power inefficient appliances and devices. Therefore, how efficiently the power is used yet another candidate as the limiting factor.

Other parts of the system need to be considered as well: the quality of the insulation and windows, the volume of space above head height, the overall square footage per occupant, the orientation of the building to the sun, the proximity of heat generation to the space being heated, the type of ventilation, etc. There are so many things that could be the limiting in the efficiency of the system that constructing a truly accurate model of any given approach is exceedingly difficult. Nevertheless, most of these values can be quantified and assessed within the overall context.

This brings us to the one factor that does not get enough examination and is, indeed, difficult to quantify without specific, ongoing data for an individual case: the patterns of control and use of the system by the occupants. Certainly, in the case of heating a home, the temperature we set our thermostats to has a major effect on how much power we use, regardless of the efficiency of the rest of the system. Heating rooms not currently in use is analogous to leaving the lights on in an unused space. Heating the house to comfortable temperatures when entirely unoccupied can be a large factor.

There is an evolving technology that help mitigate some of the underlying causes of inefficiency in this area of how well the heating system uses electricity: the smart thermostat. And, especially for room by room heating systems, such as infrared radiant, this allows for fine-tuned control of getting heat where and when you need it, and not where you don’t. If you are chilly in the living room, you don’t have to turn up the temp only in that room without even getting up. Just ask your smart speaker or use your smartphone app.

Or, maybe you’re on vacation and then wonder if you’re still running your bathroom heater, or on your way back from work and want the bathroom warm and ready for a well-deserved soak in the tub. With the smart thermostat, this is no longer an issue. You can control your heaters from as far away as your smartphone can reach.

This option has been available for a while now. But the better-known versions, such as NEST and EcoBee, were developed with more centralized HVAC systems in mind. Each thermostat is expensive. And, because they are low voltage, low-wattage devices, they nee transformers to step down the power to run them, and relays (automatic switches) that they control, which, in turn, do the actual work of turning the heat on and off.

Now, smart thermostats like the MYSA are line-volt. This simply means that they are self-contained and are wired as part of the circuit, just like a standard thermostat or light switch, which brings the installation cost down considerably. And they are far less expensive than the better-known smart thermostats, without the need for other accessories.

Once again, convenience and efficiency have been brought together, offering the opportunity to save time, money, energy, and effort with one simple system.

Cooking with Gas?

Cooking with Gas?

By now, anyone paying serious attention to what is happening to our climate and ecosystem (global life-support,) as well as to the economic nature of finite extraction resource supplies being played out, knows that we must move away from burning things for energy. Poor air quality, catastrophic climate change, and peak resource availability are all major downsides to our reliance on fossil fuels. This includes burning natural gas.

In January of 2019, the city of Berkeley California became the first American city to ban gas lines going into new construction. The City of Seattle followed suit, in a more limited way, banning gas lines going into commercial buildings and apartment buildings taller than three stories. These regulations are a response to the obvious truth that we must stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible.

So why are we still cooking with gas? This is, in part, because we don’t yet have the clean energy capacity to simply stop. The renewable energy infrastructure required needs to be built out, even in the Northwest which has had clean hydropower for around 130 years. Also, since so much of our built environment is hooked up to sources of natural gas for heating, hot water, and cooking, the transition will be daunting. However, at least we can begin to stop adding to this latter issue even as we move to solve the clean energy supply challenge.

Natural gas is mostly extracted now – largely because it is becoming scarcer and scarcer – using the technique of fracking. This process is well-known to contaminate water supplies with undisclosed chemicals, produce earthquakes in areas with little natural seismic activity, and release massive plumes of leaking gas that are barely even monitored, let alone mitigated. It is delivered through pipelines that can leak (or even explode) or transported in vehicles that can crash and, at best, are burning even more fossil fuel in the process – including driving back empty to get more. And methane is notoriously a more powerful (though shorter-lived) greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide by an order of magnitude.

Natural gas emits carbon dioxide when used as intended. This is the best-case scenario. And in buildings, except largely for the use of outdoor grills and patio heaters, this is happening inside. It’s clear that burning natural gas not only adds to our carbon emissions, but also to the degradation of our indoor air quality.

With the efficiency and affordability of mini-split ductless heat pumps, infrared radiant heat, and heat pump water heaters and dryers, putting a central gas furnace, boiler, water heater, or dryer into a new building seems an obvious mistake. This is especially true as they are rapidly becoming obsolete. But because of a popular perception (not sufficiently substantiated by fact,) that cooking with gas is best, people still want gas ovens and ranges.

It’s true that gas ranges supply precisely controllable heat. So, people continue to want the gas line coming into their homes. And, if you have a gas line coming into your home, the options of using gas water heaters, heating systems, and dryers remain on the table.

However, new electric induction cooking technologies provide more precise control of heat than gas. They heat food up faster. They heat more evenly. They heat more efficiently. And they are a natural fit for the all-electric home. And the all-electric home becomes cleaner and more efficient automatically as the energy infrastructure becomes cleaner and more efficient.

We need to take natural gas off the table and out of the kitchen entirely.