Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Preparing Your Home for Fall / Winter - House Smart Home Improvements Vancouver BC

Posted by Sound Marketing on behalf of House Smart Home Improvements

Tackle the Outdoors to Save Energy

Cleaning Your Gutters

Clean: Taking a plastic bucket with you, climb a ladder and use gloves to remove debris so it doesn’t freeze and damage the gutter. (If you have someone to help, you can use a rope to raise and lower the bucket.) Consider getting gutter guards to use year-round to block out most gunk. We like mesh covers that allow water and some debris to pass through, rather than models that promise no debris, which tend to feature tiny holes that get plugged up. Try Amerimax Home Products White Vinyl Snap In Gutter Guard ($1.49; The Home Depot). 

Check for moss: While you’re up there, glance around the gutters and roof for moss and algae. It grows at a glacial pace, but can do a lot of damage by keeping the roof below permanently wet and causing rot. If you see any, make a mixture of 5 parts water, 1 part bleach and a heaping tablespoon of trisodium phosphate (from a home improvement store), and spray it on the moss to kill it.


Seal: To prevent costly, damaging leaks to your brick, block or cement chimney, seal it every five years. A pro charges around $75 per hour, but if you’re comfortable on a ladder, apply clear acrylic water seal to all outside surfaces of the chimney, just like you’re painting. One to try: Thompson’s WaterSeal Multi-Surface Waterproofer.


Tackle the Indoors to Save Energy


Program thermostats: Set the thermostat to click on every time the daytime temperature drops below, say, 68°F (it’s cheaper to maintain a temperature than to turn a thermostat up and down). If your thermostats aren’t programmable, replace them: They’re easy to install and cost anywhere from $35 to $250—which you’ll make back in a month or two. By turning it up only when you’re home, you’ll save as much as 30 percent on your heating bill; setting the temperature at 68°F instead of 72°F can save 20 percent.

Replace filters: Change the filters in your furnace and, if you have one, forced-air system. (If you’re not sure where filters are or how to replace them, ask at your next heating inspection.) Dirty filters force the system to chug, wasting energy and costing you anywhere from 10 to 30 percent more.

Clear the path: Make sure that no furniture or objects are within 3 feet of space heaters or radiators. Even if that chair looks perfect near the heater, move it—it’s blocking the heat, and it’s a fire hazard besides.

Insulate: If you have a forced-air heating system, look for ducts running through unheated parts of the house, like the garage and attic. Measure those ducts and head to the store for precut insulation, which wraps right around them, keeping the hot air in the ducts (and in your home) toasty warm. About $1 per foot at The Home Depot can save you 10 percent on your bill.


Face it: You’re blowing hundreds of dollars on heat that immediately escapes to the outdoors. A mere $20 can eliminate most of that waste.

Caulk: And foam. Light a candle and move it around windows and doors; where it flickers, you’ve got a draft. (You can also test by dampening your hand.) Seal the gap with latex window caulk or foam sealant. You’ll still be able to open the window, and in the spring you can remove the caulk with a razor blade.
If you won’t be opening the window, caulk the sash (where both parts of the window meet in the middle). And don’t forget the attic! Plug door bottoms with stick-on weatherstripping from a hardware store ($5 to $10). Winter heating bill savings: $100 to $300.

Insulate water pipes: Starting at your hot water heater, look for uninsulated hot water pipes running along the walls or ceilings. (If they’re not labeled, you can usually place a hand near them and feel the heat.) Polystyrene insulation, which has a slit in the middle, slips right over the pipe. And once you insulate, the heat stays in the pipes longer, so the hot water heater doesn’t need to work as hard. 25¢ per foot at The Home Depot. Savings: $50.

Insulate the water heater: Your heater should have a “blanket”—they look like giant versions of the little insulator bags for travel coffee mugs. If it doesn’t, take a snapshot of your water heater, measure the length and diameter, and head to the store (blankets are $20 to $40). Exceedingly smart investment, since the blanket will keep heat in and your hot water heater won’t have to turn on as frequently. Winter heating bill savings: $100.

Block dormant fireplaces: Not using the fireplace? Block it off so warm air can’t escape. Though home stores sell expensive seals, you can simply take cardboard, purchase an expanding foam at any hardware store and seal it. Put a pretty fireplace screen in front of it and no one will see. Check that the foam sealant (usually $6 to $9 per canister) can be used with the material your fireplace is made of. When warm weather comes, follow the removal instructions to take off the sealant, leaving no marks. Try Dap Kwik Foam (12 oz, $6; at any hardware store).

Is it Time to Replace Your Windows?

There are probably sexier ways to spend your home improvement money -- on a shiny new bathroom or a glamorous kitchen remodel with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, for example. But there are few things as rewarding as replacing your windows and front door, which can yield a variety of benefits, from lowered utility bills to better soundproofing and greater curb appeal.
There are obvious reasons to replace windows: the wooden frames are rotting or the glass is broken or fogged, transforming your charming historic home into an eyesore that sets neighbors’ tongues wagging. But there are other reasons for replacement that might not be as readily apparent -- or as galling to the neighbors.
For instance, single-pane glass windows, which are present in most homes built before the mid-1990s, are hugely energy inefficient and allow heating and cooling dollars to fly out the window and noise to cascade in. At House Smart Home Improvements serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, the majority of customers are switching from single pane to double pane glass to gain more energy efficiency in their homes.
House Smart Home Improvements provides ENERGY STAR® labelled windows. Energy Star windows can reduce condensation and outside noise, reduce heating costs, and increase comfort by regulating temperature in hot and cold seasons
Thanks to advances in technology, today’s ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors, and skylights offer greater savings than ever before. Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows lowers household energy bills by 7-15 percent. Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and shrinks a house’s carbon footprint.
ENERGY STAR® windows can reduce condensation and outside noise, reduce heating costs, protect from sun damage and fading, and increase comfort by regulating temperature in hot and cold seasons.

They are an excellent long-term investment in comfort and value for your family and your home. Call House Smart Home Improvements today to find out more. We offer free in-home consultations. 604-585-2020.

House Smart Home Improvements are experienced professionals with an  A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau. When it’s time to replace your windows, doors or furnaces and heat pumps, or to install  insulation, and other energy-efficient home upgrades,  give us a call. 604-585-2020

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