Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

Energy Efficiency Improvement Tips For Your Home

Here are tips for you to save money, save energy, and help the environment at the same time

Equalized Payment Plan

Enroll in the Equalized Payment Plan to prevent peak winter energy bills by spreading out your yearly natural gas costs over monthly installments.


energyHave yearly maintenance to keep your furnace properly adjusted, clean, and lubricated. When your furnace is running at optimum efficiency, the operational costs will be lower and it will use less energy.

Replace or clean your furnace filters every one or two months. Dirty filters obstruct airflow and the furnace has to run longer to achieve the same temperature.

Purchase an ENERGY STAR® furnace that has a variable speed motor. Upgrading from the standard 60% efficiency gas furnace to one with a variable speed motor and 95% efficiency rating can save the average homeowner $588 on annual electric and gas costs.


  • Decrease your thermostat setting by 4 or 5 degrees Celsius or 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit when you are sleeping or when your home is empty.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. For every 1 degree Celsius you lower the thermostat, you can save 2% on your heating costs. You can save up to $60 annually when you have a programmable thermostat to adjust your heat when you do not need it.


  • Use cold water for washing your clothes. Upwards of 90% of energy used to wash clothes is consumed by heating the water. By washing your clothes in cold water, not only can you help the environment, but you can save money and energy.

Only wash a full load of clothes.

  • Invest in a front-loading washing machine. Front-loading washing machines use less water and require less energy to work. They use approximately half the energy of a top-loading machine and about 40% less water.

Install Weather-Stripping

  • Weather-stripping is used to create a barrier between the movable and fixed components of windows and doors. Add weather-stripping to garage doors, exterior doors, windows, and doors that lead to the basement or attic.

Windows, Sills, Door Frames, And Joints

  • Use caulk or sealant around windows, sills, door frames, and joints. When it is windy outside, feel around these areas for air coming inside your home. You can also use incense sticks to identify drafts that may be entering from windows, vents, doors, or electrical outlets. Keep an eye out for spider webs. If you find a spider web, there is also a draft.
  • To prevent loss of heat, cover windows with plastic.
  • Remove drapes, furniture, and rugs from around heating vents and air grilles. This prevents interference with heated air throughout your home.

Extend The Gas Furnace’s Lifespan

Gas Furnace – Tips to Extend The Lifespan

Gas furnaces typically last 15 to 20 years. Performing regular maintenance ensures you maximize the life of your gas furnace while decreasing the occurrence of costly emergency repairs

Be smart and hire a professional to maintain and repair your furnace, especially when in doubt. Natural gas is a powerful source, and it can explode, especially if you do not know what you are doing. Second to that, always make sure that the furnace is safe before starting repairs or maintenance. Turn off power by tripping the furnace’s circuit.

gas furnaceIf you smell gas, leave the house and call the gas company or the fire department. They will let you know when it is safe to return home after they check for leaks.

Regular Air Filter Replacement

One easy task that extends the life of your furnace is replacing the air filter twice per year. Your gas furnace’s filter catches dust and lint to prevent it from ending up in the furnace. Such particles, when introduced to the gas furnace cause breakdowns. In addition, it can cause a lot of sneezing, as the dust gets recirculated through the home. Keep your furnace in good working order with this simple, fairly low-cost task. Usually, the filter is easy to locate and replace.

On a gas furnace, look for the filter between the blower’s door. It might also be found between the blower and the return air duct. While you may need to pry the door ever so slightly to open it with a screwdriver, it is easy to get to the air filter. When you see it it might appear dank, grayish, and dirty compared to the new one you install. Pay attention to the direction that your filter faces, and make sure that you install the new filter in the same direction as the old one.

Cleaning The Furnace

Did you know that despite your best efforts to have a filter in place, debris still will get through to the furnace? That means periodically it can stand to be cleaned. The blower assembly needs to be cleaned, along with the pulleys and the belts. Do this at the same time you replace the filter. Access this area through the panel that covers up the filter, or by sliding out the fan unit. These could be held in place with screws. Be ginger in your application of force and be mindful of the screws. Clean the area with a damp cloth.

Get It Inspected

Get your furnace inspected and serviced yearly to ensure that it is running efficiently. This is one reliable way to fend off expensive problems. A professional performs this work and is best completed at the tail end of the heating season. You might want to have your air conditioning or HVAC inspected at the same time, so you only need to adhere to one appointment per year.

Keep up with performing proper maintenance to keep your gas furnace in working order for as long as it can. It will help you to get the most out of your furnace.

5 Sneaky Plumber Tricks You Should Know About

Plumber – 5 Sneaky Tricks You Should Know About

Many people hate having to call a plumber to get help. A majority of plumbers are honest and trustworthy professionals, however some of us worry that some of them might try a few underhanded tricks and overcharge us. Therefore, we are uncomfortable just picking up the phone and calling one. The following are 5 of the sneakiest plumber tricks.

Learn how to recognize them so that you can better able to locate an honest professional to help you with your plumbing issue

1. Working uninsured and unlicensed

Uninsured and unlicensed tradespeople tend to charge less for the services. However, hiring them can be very risky.

plumberA majority of cites require that homeowners use insured and licensed contractors, even when a permit is not required. Homeowners can still legally do most renovation work on their own houses. However, there are some limits. For instance, a licensed professional must be used for plumbing, electrical or structural work.

When you use an unlicensed trades person, there isn’t anywhere for you to turn when the work isn’t done properly. You might be required by a building inspector to tear the job out and start over again.

Before you hire a plumber ask for proof of current insurance, a state license and identification. To check on the plumber’s insurance and licensing credentials, call your state insurance commissioner and licensing department.

2. Providing an estimate on a job sight unseen

How is it possible for a plumber to provide a realistic price estimate on a job if they haven’t seen it? Don’t accept any quote unless the job is inspected in person. Also make sure to get it writing.

Although a price can’t be quoted by a plumber without them seeing the job first, they can let you know whether or not they have a minimum charge and what their hourly rate is. They can also provide you with a ballpark figure of how much time will be involved on predictable and small jobs – such as clearing a plugged up kitchen sink or getting a new shower head instead.

Keep in mind that even small jobs may turn out to be more complicated than you may have thought.

3. Lowballing the bid

You should be wary of any surprisingly low bid. There is something probably wrong with it.

Plumbing is notorious for being expensive. Also fees can vary a lot, so it can be difficult to judge. For example, the cost for repairing a clogged drain can range from $75 up to $250 depending on who the plumber is. Obtaining several competing bids can give you a good idea of what a realistic cost is for your particular job.

One common plumbing scam is giving a low estimate where all of the necessary labor is not accounted for. It will then be necessary for you to pay for the extra labor before the plumber will complete the job, which puts you into a difficult situation.

5. Showing Up to Your House Uninvited

If a so-called plumber happens to knock on your door to try and convince you to hire him, call the police. This is frequently a burglar trying to check out the vulnerabilities of your home or some kind of fraud.

Lots of people – and in particular elderly homeowners – are the target of smooth talking con artists. Don’t ever let anyone into your house that you haven’t checked out first.

Typical Problems Where You may need a Plumber

List of common plumbing problems

There is no doubt about it that there are a lot of different types of plumbing that run all through your house. There are the hot and cold water lines that run through the walls and feed all the sinks and bathroom fixtures and many drains that run through the flooring and eventually end up going into your sewer or septic system. It goes without saying that wherever there is plumbing there is also the possibility of you having some plumbing repairs to do. The following list of common plumbing problems, as reported by, will most likely need a plumber to resolve them for you.


Clogged Septic or Sewer Line

There are some plumbing jobs that even if you have the know how to resolve them they are just better left to a professional to do them; one of those is definitely unclogging your sewer or septic drain line. It is a job that is smelly and nasty on most occasions and can even be hazardous to your health; that is why you really need a plumber to come out and get this one done for you. It may also require equipment for digging or extremely high powered drain snakes to get the job done that most people do not have access to.

Leaking Copper Pipe

Most homes that are older have a lot of copper plumbing pipes that run throughout them. They are not nearly as easy to work with as modern day PVC plumbing and connections because they have to be seamed together by a method known as “sweating the pipes” with flux and a torch. This takes a lot of experience to be able to do it right, so it is definitely the type of plumbing repair that you need a plumber to do for you.

Deep Drain Line Toilet Clog

You have tried plunging your backed up toilet line several times and also tried using a small hand cranked drain snake to free it up and you still can’t get the clog out; this is a case where you really need a plumber to come out to your house and take care of the problem. They carry special heavy duty drain snakes on their vehicles that can go deep into the toilet drain pipe and bore through even the toughest of clogs.

Water Heater Replacement

No matter how often you drain your water heater or do any other preventative maintenance on it, they will still eventually fail and when they do you will need a plumber to come out to your home and take care of this problem for you. They need such things as electrical lines hooked up to them, copper or PVC pipe connections cut and redone; and they also have a drain line that needs to be hooked back up to them also. These are not things that the average person wants to take on themselves.

If you need a plumber to help you with a plumbing problem in your house you can easily search the internet or look in your local phonebook to find a reputable one.

Professional Drain Services

List of drain services

There are probably few things you have in your home that you have more of than drain lines. It’s a good thing too because of all the water you use in your home each day. This used and often unsanitary water has to be safely taken away from your home and that is the role of household drains so they must be kept working. With all the use that drains get it is surprising that most people neglect to do the routine drain services that they need. Here is a list of drain services that you or a professional plumber should be doing to your household drains at least once a year according to

drain servicesDrain Inspections

Any type of semi-annual or annual drain services must include a visual inspection of the openings to any household drains. Drains tend to get clogged easy when large chunks of debris get into them so it is important to make sure all your household drains have screens or grates on them that are tightly attached. Any that don’t should be repaired immediately to prevent them from getting clogged up easy.

Preventative maintenance

This would include such things as pouring extremely hot water into your drain openings at least once or twice a year (you don’t want to use boiling water because it may loosen the glue on some pipe fittings). This is especially important for kitchen drains where grease tends to build up no matter how careful you are.

Drain Cleaning

Periodic drain cleaning is another one of those important drain services that needs to be done; especially if you see any of your drains start to work slowly. A simple, non-toxic mixture of baking soda and vinegar left working in a drain overnight will go a long toward freeing slow or clogged drain lines.

Drain opening

Every once in a while it is not a bad idea to run a drain snake or power drain auger through your drain lines just to make sure there are no solid clogs starting to form in them. This is especially true for sewer and septic drain lines which have so much organic matter going into them it tends to do such things as fuel weed and other plant growth that will eventually clog them.

Clog prevention

Clog prevention will go a long way toward keeping your essential household drains functioning too. This is doing things like making sure when you are preparing food in the sink the drain screens are in place while doing so, making sure nothing goes into your toilet but sanitary paper made for use in it and periodically cleaning such things as hair out of bathroom drain screens because it will eventually work its way through them and help form a clog.

The importance of these typical drain services should not be underestimated. A clogged drain in the wrong place can prevent you from preparing food in the kitchen, prevent you from doing laundry and even keep you from being able to relieve yourself of bodily waste; needless to say drains provide a pretty important role around the house. So get the drain services mentioned here done quickly when it is their time to be done.

Home Air Conditioner Guide for Beginners

Check out this home air conditioner guide

If you’re new to buying cooling systems, check out this home air conditioner guide to ensure you purchase the ideal AC for your home.

You are finally making steps in replacing your old central AC, but you are clueless on how to look for a new system or how much to spend. Don’t be shy in admitting you know nothing about ACs. Let this replacement be a breeze with the help of this home air conditioner guide.

Unfortunately, several factors can influence the cost of a new central AC. It can be truly intimidating for an average homeowner like you.

But the good thing is that this home air conditioner guide will teach you all about the essentials, so you know exactly what to do, what to expect and what to prepare for until the installation is complete.

home air conditioner guide

Choose the Air Conditioner Type

Will you go with a straight cool or an air-source heat pump? But before deciding, know first what kind of AC you have at home. Familiarize yourself with the two common types:

  • Straight Cool (can only cool your home)
  • Heat Pump (ACs that cools and heats your home)

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) = Energy Efficiency Rating

Do you want to spend less in cooling your home during summer? It is time to check out SEER ratings. You’ll find out how energy-efficient an AC is by checking the seasonal energy efficiency ratio. SEER often ranges from 13 up to 21. You have a more efficient AC when the number goes higher.

However, remember that an AC’s price also goes up when its SEER rating goes higher. Pay more up front for these systems but you’ll be able to enjoy more efficiency at a fraction of the cost during summertime.

Tons = AC Size

Tons can range from 1.5 up to 5, and it pertains to the AC’s capacity to remove heat from your house. Contrary to SEER, higher is not better. An AC’s ton relies on different factors about your home (such as the number of windows and the square footage).

Good for you, because it’s not your job to figure it out. Hire an AC expert to do a cooling load calculation first to find out the right size.

2-Stage Cooling = High and Low Cooling Settings

2-stage ACs likewise have 2-stage compressors, letting the AC, similar to a fan, operate at various settings depending on what’s the weather like.

  • High setting = hot weather
  • Low setting = cooler weather

You no longer need to change the settings manually because the AC can detect the indoor temperature and switch from low to high setting automatically.

2-Stage Air Conditioner Benefits

  • Reduce energy costs
  • Removes more humidity from the house
  • Circulates conditioned air more evenly all over the house

Matched System = Replace Both Indoor and Outdoor Units

A standard central AC is a split system that has two units:

  • Indoor unit (Evaporator)
  • Outdoor unit (Condenser)

During replacements, most homeowners only change one of them because:

  • No need to replace both units since only one is broken.
  • It is expensive to replace both units.

But this is not a good practice. You can only achieve a “matched system” if both your outdoor and indoor units are a match for each other.

“Unmatched Systems” can bring about the following problems:

  • Reduced energy efficiency
  • Reduced lifespan
  • Premature breakdowns
  • No warranty
  • Higher installation costs
  • Still uses the old -22 refrigerant (more expensive and will eventually be phased out by the year 2020)

This home air conditioner guide addresses all the basics you need to know when thinking of HVAC replacements. Arm yourself with the right knowledge and skills, so that you have the ideal and a more efficient HVAC system that will last you a long time at a price you can afford.