Consumers today are more mindful about the environmental impact of everything they do, from driving and traveling to energy usage in their homes. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps homeowners can take to save energy and help the environment.
(BPT) - Consumers today are more mindful about the environmental impact of everything they do, from driving and traveling to energy usage in their homes. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps homeowners can take to save energy and help the environment.
1. Boost your insulation
You may already know what areas of your home are poorly insulated, simply by how you feel when it’s cold or hot outside. You can have a professional home energy audit conducted to help pinpoint areas that need improvement. Many energy companies provide an audit free of charge.
Start with the attic: If your attic is insufficiently insulated, you could be losing a lot of heat over the winter, which means your home is wasting energy — and money. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that boosting attic insulation can save 10-50 percent on heating costs.
2. Upgrade your heating and cooling system
Heating and cooling your home uses the most energy, so investing in Energy Star certified HVAC products can make a big difference when it comes to cutting energy costs and your home's impact on the environment.
For a new HVAC system in a variety of styles to fit any décor that can be easily installed by a contractor, you might consider wall-mounted duct-free systems from a trusted brand like LG. They offer a variety of ultra-quiet "Art Cool" options (the sleek Mirror, stylish Premier and unique Gallery, which looks like a picture frame and allows you to display your own artwork). These systems are smart-enabled, allowing homeowners to adjust the temperature from their LG ThinQ app for Android and iOS users, or with simple commands via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The most eco-conscious consumers will want to look for "Energy Star Most Efficient" HVAC solutions. For example, the Art Cool Mirror earned the 2019 designation and also features advanced "Reliable to Extreme Degrees" LGRED, heating technology that delivers 100 percent heating capacity down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit and continuous heating down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep you warm and comfortable all winter long with remarkable energy efficiency.
3. Replace doors and windows
You may be losing a lot of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer through your doors and windows, especially if they're older. The latest energy-efficient models of windows and doors not only reduce leaks around the frames, but they're made from materials that enhance insulation.
Doors: According to EnergyStar.gov, energy-efficient doors not only fit better and have improved weather stripping to reduce air leakage, but also use improved core materials for superior insulation. Where glass is used, they reduce heat flow via double- or triple-paned insulating glass.
Windows: Energy Star qualified windows use superior framing materials, including multiple panes of glass, with air- or gas-filled space between for additional insulation. They're made from Low-E (low emissivity) glass, with special coatings to reflect infrared light. Warm edge spacers keep the glass panes the correct distance apart reducing heat transfer through the window.
4. Go solar
While most people are aware that solar power harnesses the sun’s energy to create electricity, many don't know how easy and cost-effective it is to go solar.
The newest technology behind solar energy has made it increasingly accessible and appealing for homeowners. For example, new energy solutions such as LG’s "NeON R ACe" are high-efficiency solar panels that incorporate a built-in micro-inverter (that converts DC electricity to AC) instead of a separate traditional inverter. Recessed into the frame of the solar module, the micro-inverter simplifies the installation process and allows more flexibility to create a solar array that looks attractive on your roof. When going solar, it’s important to seek out a brand you trust, one like LG that offers solar panels covered by a 25-year limited product, part and performance warranty.
Choosing just one area to upgrade will save energy, reducing your home's carbon footprint. You'll also feel more comfortable throughout the year, as you better regulate the temperature of your home.
Here are some basic tasks you need to do now to prepare for wintry weather and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
(BPT) - No matter where you live, there are bound to be weather challenges this winter. Your home may suffer damage, minor or major, from the onslaught of colder weather, along with wind, heavy rain, ice storms or even major snow systems. This can affect not only the integrity and value of your home, but may lead to costly repairs down the road. That's why it's smart to prep now, to prevent bigger problems in the future. It's also a good idea to make sure that your home is prepped for spending more time indoors.
Here are basic tasks to prepare for wintry weather, and to ensure your family stays healthy and safe inside.
1. Perform a safety check
Are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in good working order? Make monthly testing of these safety features a regular part of your seasonal household chores. For battery-operated units keep up-to-date with battery changes as per manufacturer instructions. Also be aware and take action if you hear any low battery alarms. Also, do you have a home fire extinguisher in your kitchen?
2. Ensure clean indoor air
Make sure your home’s heating and air conditioning units are in good condition, and schedule regular tune-ups to avoid unpleasant surprises. Change your furnace filter frequently, so your air quality stays clean indoors, where you’re likely to spend more time as temps get cooler. Also, consider setting up a schedule with a professional to have your ductwork cleaned on a regular basis.
3. Keep the outside out
Check weatherstripping around exterior doors, replacing where necessary, then seal and caulk exterior wood, since wood trim can rot around windows and outside doors. Walk around the outside of your home with spray foam gap sealer and caulk to plug gaps, cracks and holes in siding and around windows. Find and seal air leaks where you may be losing valuable heat and letting in the cold. Many energy companies offer an energy audit to discover where you may be losing both heat and money — and advise you on ways to improve your insulation. Making sure your gutters are cleaned out and in good condition helps protect your home's exterior from exposure to moisture due to rain, ice or snow melt.
4. Install back-up power
Power outages occur for many reasons, usually outside your control. In major storms, outages can last for days or even weeks when a large area is affected. To protect your home and family, an automatic standby generator gives you peace of mind — even when you’re not at home.
Look for a unit that comes in a durable aluminum enclosure with options that can withstand up to 181 mph winds and can be installed as close as 18 inches from your home (important for areas with tight lot lines and strict building codes), such as select models of KOHLER standby home generators. They will automatically start and restore your power in seconds, whether you’re home or away.
Units can be monitored remotely from your smartphone or laptop. The unit is permanently installed near your home, and provides high-quality power that can run your sump pump, furnace or air conditioner, and major appliances — plus delicate electronics. KOHLER generators feature commercial-grade engines built to withstand extreme workloads over many years, and they come with a five-year warranty. This is not a do-it-yourself job; you will need to work with a professionally licensed and insured generator installer.
5. Trim your trees
Now is a great time to get your trees trimmed, while it’s easier to access branches without all the extra foliage. Trimming dead branches helps prevent problems that can occur due to wind or ice storms, when a falling branch could endanger a power line, car or home. Like all professional contractors, work with tree service companies that have proper credentials and insurance.
6. Check your roof
Whether you inspect your roof yourself or hire a professional, it's a good idea to take care of repairs before winter wind, hail, snow and ice do their worst. Look for blistering, curling, buckling — or missing — shingles. Moss or lichen growing can indicate decay underneath. Any visible sagging of your roof, rust or cracks around flashing or vent pipes should also be repaired promptly to avoid later problems like leaks.
Don't let the calamities of winter take you and your family by surprise. Doing prep work and maintenance on your home now, with a focus on safety, will ensure that you're ready for anything that may come your way — even if it's just hunkering down in your home for the season.
New, smart products are hitting the market every day. For homeowners savvy enough to incorporate this new technology into their homes, they’ll not only be more connected, but they’ll likely see more offers rolling in when it comes time to sell.
(BPT) - The spring home-buying season is just around the corner and that means people are busy making improvements to get their homes ready to sell. These days, home upgrades are increasingly focused on one key feature: connectivity. In 2019, buyers want smart homes they can easily control from anywhere. From smart HVAC and sprinkler systems to connected garage door openers, it’s all about creating convenience and comfort.
Security gets connected
Security systems are nothing new, but the technology used to arm those systems is changing rapidly. More and more home security companies now offer fully connected systems that allow users to protect and monitor their homes from any smart device. Whether it’s a live video feed, the ability to lock and unlock doors remotely or just checking that all sensors are working properly, integrated security systems offer peace of mind. Having the infrastructure in place can be a selling point for buyers who want to make sure their new home is as safe as possible, given they’ll only have to set up the monitoring subscription upon move-in.
Updated garages add value
According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value survey, a garage door replacement is the number one home improvement project in terms of return on investment. But these days, more homeowners are taking it a step further and installing new technology to make the garage more user friendly. For example, the SilentMax Connect garage door opener from The Genie Company comes with Aladdin Connect technology built-in to improve convenience and functionality. Not only is the opener super quiet — ideal for attached garages — but the connectivity features allow you to check whether your garage door is open or closed, grant individual access with virtual keys, instantly know when someone is operating your garage door (authorized or not), and provide a log of when each opener was used — all from your phone or smart device. Thanks to this technology, you can open the garage door remotely for delivery people, a housekeeper or for your child coming home from school. Considering your garage is one of the most accessed points in your home, this functionality is a great security feature and proves that garages offer more than just storage space. With the right connectivity tools and features, they can provide convenience that will be attractive to future owners.
Save energy, increase comfort
As home improvement trends go, increased connectivity is rivaled only by the desire for more energy-efficient homes. Smart thermostats accomplish both these aims and can increase the value of your home in the process. Smart thermostats let you easily control the temperature in your home from any connected device. You can set a daily schedule for your heater, adjust the temperature in individual rooms or let the system program itself based on your usage history. For energy-conscious buyers, this kind of technology provides a way of living that’s as aspirational as it is attainable.
Lighting the way
Smart lighting has turned from a novelty to a practical tool as products have gotten more advanced. Programmable lighting allows you to schedule when your lights will come on, turn on and off lights remotely or change the lighting to improve aesthetics. With a smart lighting system, you’ll never have to get out of bed to turn the lights off downstairs, and you can always come home to a fully lit house, boosting your sense of security. With these kinds of applications, your home’s lighting can go from a ‘given’ to a must-have, attracting buyers like a moth to a flame.
New, smart products are hitting the market every day. For homeowners savvy enough to incorporate this new technology into their homes, they’ll not only be more connected, but they’ll likely see more offers rolling in when it comes time to sell.
A home that operates efficiently isn’t just better for the environment. Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year. These tips can serve as areas of focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances’ negative impact on the environment.
Energy Savers that Make ‘Cents’
(Family Features) A home that operates efficiently isn’t just better for the environment. Ensuring your home systems are as efficient as possible can also help reduce the financial burden of maintaining your home throughout the year.
These tips from Gary White with JCPenney Home Services can serve as areas of focus for lowering your energy bills and lessening your appliances’ negative impact on the environment.
The cost of heating water for bathing, laundry and kitchen use is a common home energy drain, so it’s an area that deserves attention when you’re looking to upgrade for efficiency. To reduce energy use from your hot water heater, try taking shorter showers and switching to cold water for some washing machine wash and rinse cycles. Other options include turning down the thermostat on your heater, adding insulation or purchasing a newer, more efficient model.
Heating and Cooling
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as 40 percent of a home’s energy expenses come from the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, also known as the heating and cooling system. Like appliances and other mechanical features of your home, over time, the heating and cooling system becomes less efficient. Regular seasonal service like appropriately changing out the air filter can help ensure your system performs at its best, but once its life expectancy has passed, a new unit is usually the more cost-effective solution in the long run.
Understanding your options is important because these systems represent a meaningful investment. There are a lot of potentially overwhelming options and you want to be sure you get the right system for your home. A consultation with an expert, such as those you can find at JCPenney Home Services, can help you determine the proper size and functions necessary to effectively manage your home’s climate, as well as assist in exploring the latest technologies and products. For example, heat pumps, which were once reserved for more moderate climates, are now a cost-efficient solution for homes where temperatures dip lower.
Another option that is relatively new but growing in popularity is known as a mini-split system. These systems let you customize the temperature settings in various spaces, enhancing personal comfort and allowing you to focus your energy use on the parts of your home that need it most. Learn more about these and other energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions at jcpenneyhomeservices.com.
While servicing or replacing an HVAC system may be the obvious change when it comes to conserving energy, you can also see reductions by using an upgraded thermostat, such as a “smart” or connected model. These devices can help you monitor the temperature setting in your home while maximizing efficiency. For example, a connected thermostat that’s synced to your smartphone may allow you to adjust temperature settings when away from home. This way, if you forget to bump the air conditioner up a few degrees while you’re gone more than a few hours, you can log-in remotely and set an appropriate temperature.
A great deal of energy is lost through cracks, holes and faulty seals. Take time to assess all windows, doors and openings for air leaks, adding caulking or weather stripping where needed. Don’t overlook culprits like openings around lighting and plumbing fixtures, switch plates and other electrical elements. Also assess potential losses from the fireplace, attic, garage and crawl spaces, where it’s common that less attention is given to thorough sealing, and determine whether additional insulation can help contain energy.
Take Control of Your Climate
Managing your home’s climate control is typically no small task or small expense. These options offer flexibility and efficiency.
Heat pumps pull from the ground or outside air temperature to both heat your home in the winter and cool it in the summer. Since heat pumps move heat instead of generating it, they’re energy-efficient year-round.
Hybrid systems or combination systems combine elements of both a furnace and heat pump. The more efficient heat pump runs until the outside air temperature falls below a certain level, at which point the system automatically switches the heat source to the furnace. This option is more expensive up front, but can generate significant savings in terms of monthly utility bills long-term.
Ductless systems are a flexible, efficient choice for homeowners looking for simple solutions. These systems can be easily mounted on the wall or ceiling, and don’t require ductwork, making them ideal for a converted attic space or room addition.
Understanding HVAC Efficiency Ratings
An HVAC system can be rated in a number of different ways. While some of these ratings may be confusing, it is helpful to understand what they mean.
AFUE: An Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is important if you are purchasing an oil or gas furnace. The AFUE rating measures the amount of fuel used to heat your home against the amount of fuel wasted. A higher rating indicates a more efficient system. The more efficient your system, the less fuel it takes to heat your home, which translates into lower heating bills during the winter.
SEER: The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the more efficient your system and the less it will cost to heat and cool your home. Federal regulations require all new HVAC systems to have a SEER rating of 13 or higher.
HSPF: The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the efficiency of a heat pump when it is used to heat a home. A higher rating indicates greater efficiency and greater monthly savings on energy bills. New HVAC units are required to have a rating of 7.7 or higher.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Large house)SOURCE:
JCPenney Home Services
As much as half of the average homeowner’s monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use.
Save Money Through Energy Efficiency
(Family Features) As much as half of the average homeowner’s monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For many households, that makes energy the largest home-related expense each month, next to a mortgage payment.
Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use. In fact, the DOE estimates you can save as much as 10 percent a year on energy costs by simply adjusting the temperature up or down when you’re away during the day. Installing a programmable thermostat that never forgets to adjust on a busy morning and kicks back on before you arrive home can help you earn these savings and reduce energy consumption.
Lighting is another major energy challenge. However, smart light bulbs let you adjust your home’s ambiance (and energy usage) with just a couple of quick taps. Paired with motion sensors that detect movement (or a lack thereof) and adjust lighting accordingly, smart bulbs can help reduce the waste of energy caused by lighting unused rooms.
Similarly, smartphone applications that connect to other appliances, utilities and home features offer the best of personalized comfort and convenience while providing tools to help minimize your home’s energy consumption.
Zoned Climate Control
While a zoned system is generally considered a premium home feature, it isn’t unattainable and actually offers long-term savings, due to its energy-efficient operation. The home is divided into zones, designated by floors, rooms or areas – however the homeowner chooses – which eliminates the “all on” feature of traditional air conditioners.
A system like Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating’s Zoned Comfort Solutions offers a true zoning-system with convenient controls and automation, along with whisper-quiet operation. Both ducted and non-ducted units are available depending on the space and occupant needs. Additionally, some models have advanced filtration features to help eliminate allergens, contributing to improved air quality.
For a new build, installing a zoned system from the outset is relatively simple. However, zoned systems are also a possible solution for replacing your home’s HVAC system or rectifying a problem with a single uncomfortable room. Pairing the system with sensors or remote app controls can bring operating costs even lower through computerized automation.
Find more ways to save money on your energy bill at mitsubishicomfort.com.
A state-of-the-art zoned climate control system can be configured to your specific needs, but all the customization options can make it tricky to predict how much your installation might cost. Taking into account these variables can give you a better sense of how much you’ll be spending.
New equipment. Each system includes an outdoor unit, indoor unit(s), controls and parts including the refrigerant line-set, wiring and electrical accessories. Conditioning one room or zone comes at a significantly different price than cooling and heating a home with eight or more zones. Generally, new equipment comes in between $3,000-$15,000, depending on the number of zones and size of the home.
Labor. This is what you will pay a licensed HVAC contractor to install the system (and remove your old one, if necessary). Contractors’ labor prices vary widely, but expect to spend an amount roughly equal to your equipment cost, depending on your geographic location and the complexity of the installation.
Additional costs. Depending on your existing system, you may incur costs for items such as electrical work to install a new 240V outlet ($200-$1,000, or more if your electrical panel requires a new circuit); an equipment pad, stand or brackets for the outdoor unit ($50-$300); ductwork (prices vary greatly depending on the home); and controller options (approximately $200-$300 each).
Unique situations. Some homes, such as older homes, high-performance homes and homes in extreme cold-weather regions, often require auxiliary heat or specialized designs or equipment, all of which can impact the cost of the system. However, with Mitsubishi Electric’s Zoned Comfort Solutions, 100 percent heating down to a 5° F outdoor temperature can be attained.
Rebates. Some states offer rebates for the installation of more energy-efficient appliances, including HVAC systems. These rebates can help offset some of the upfront costs associated with installing zoned systems. Consider speaking with a professional or researching available rebates in your region before purchasing a new system.
Photos © 2017 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.SOURCE:
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating
(BPT) - More than 6 million American children — nearly 9 percent of all kids in the U.S. — have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, asthma attacks send more than a million people to emergency rooms, including approximately 24,000 children younger than 15, the CDC reports. Yet health experts agree many of those asthma attacks could be avoided through a range of tactics, including by improving air quality inside homes.
“Most people can control their asthma and live symptom-free,” the CDC reports. Knowing how to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens and irritants inside the home could help people avoid at least some asthma attacks.
Asthma and kids
More than 47 percent of all asthma attacks occur in children, according to CDC data. KidsHealth.org says asthma is the leading cause of chronic absence from school, and the chronic illness that sends kids to the emergency room most often.
Many factors can trigger allergy attacks, including exposure to allergens inside the home. As the weather warms and parents open windows to bring fresh air into their homes, the breeze that enters can be full of pollen, mold spores and other airborne irritants. What’s more, irritants already inside the home such as pet dander, dust mites, smoke, bacteria and viruses can contribute to asthma symptoms.
Improving indoor air quality
Your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems play a critical role in the air quality inside your home. HVAC manufacturer Coleman, which makes ventilator systems, air cleaners and ultraviolet irradiation systems to support indoor air quality, offers some tips for ensuring your HVAC system works to clean the air inside your home:
* Have your HVAC system serviced regularly to ensure all components are working efficiently. A well-maintained system can dramatically improve air quality.
* Change air filters regularly, and choose a filter with a higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating. The higher the rating, the better the filter will be at capturing airborne particles. Clogged or low-MERV filters may not effectively remove particles from the air, leaving them for your HVAC system to recirculate. In fact, HVAC systems can recirculate contaminants an average of five to seven times per day, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.
* Vent bathrooms and laundry rooms directly outside the home, and ensure vent fans are always working well.
* Any equipment that creates combustion and exhaust, such as fireplaces, heaters, stoves, range tops and furnaces should also vent outside to keep harmful fumes from re-entering your home's HVAC system.
* When you vacuum, turn on your home’s HVAC system. Vacuuming stirs particles into the air, and your running HVAC system can catch those particles and filter them from the air.
* Monitor and control the humidity in your home. Bacteria and viruses, which can contribute to asthma symptoms, thrive in very dry environments. Consider adding a whole-home humidifier, like Luxaire’s Acclimate Whole-Home Humidifiers, to your HVAC system. Through the use of natural evaporation, the humidifiers help maintain optimum humidity throughout the entire house, without the limitations of portable humidifiers that can only affect a single room.
* Air cleaners can support your HVAC system in removing irritants from the air. Like single-room humidifiers, however, portable air cleaners have limited effect. Consider incorporating a whole-home air cleaner that operates as part of your existing HVAC system.
Visit www.colemanac.com/IAQ to learn more about products available to improve the indoor air quality in your home, and to find a local contractor. You can also follow the company on Twitter at @ColemanHVAC.
Studies show the number of people with asthma is growing worldwide. Health experts from the CDC to the National Institutes of Health agree that controlling indoor air quality in homes could benefit children with asthma, as well as asthma sufferers of all ages.
(BPT) - The key to reducing your home's energy bills could literally be at your fingertips, hanging on the wall of your home. Multiple studies have shown the connection between lower energy bills and thermostat settings. In fact, reducing thermostat settings just seven to 10 degrees for eight hours per day can reduce heating and cooling use by 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Smarter thermostats, greater efficiency
With smart home automation, homeowners can use a home comfort system to actively manage their comfort and energy usage. This greater ability to match the system performance to individual lifestyles puts the homeowner in a position of power when it comes to managing their energy usage. And in terms of home comfort, that control typically starts with the thermostat.
Thermostats often serve as the touchpoint that integrates with the larger system to provide the simplest, most user-friendly interface for the homeowner. So, it's important for homeowners to understand the different types of thermostats available to them and how they can improve comfort and efficiency:
* A conventional thermostat lets the homeowner adjust the temperature using a traditional dial or control panel.
* Smart thermostats monitor user behavior and dynamically adjust system performance for consistent comfort and maximized efficiency.
* Connected thermostats bridge the gap between the two, offering remote operation, but still rely on the user for direction.
Smart thermostats, like Champion's Momentum Hx Touch-screen Thermostat, manage automation by communicating wirelessly with home heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to maximize efficiency. Smart thermostats learn better than humans, and can automatically adjust temperature programming to match your lifestyle while maximizing efficiency and savings. As part of a complete system, the Wi-Fi-enabled Momentum thermostat allows users to monitor and control systems remotely with an app from any internet-enabled mobile device, and can even notify homeowners of developing problems.
Looking beyond the thermostat
The number of connected households that have smart thermostats more than doubled in the past two years, according to market research firm Parks Associates. With 36 percent of broadband-using households interested in a system that manages and monitors their home energy use, Parks Associates predict that half of all American homes will be smart homes by 2020.
Energy consumption starts with the overall heating and cooling equipment; thermostat watts are just a small portion of energy consumption. Purchasing home automation products designed and manufactured to work with the homeowner's specific comfort system is the best way to maximize performance and energy savings. And, homeowners should start with buying energy-efficient equipment.
"It's important to remember that "smart" isn't just the thermostat - it's an overall connected system," said Jedidiah Bentz, director, Advanced Systems, Controls & Technology, Johnson Controls. "A complete home comfort system goes beyond the thermostat to offer energy saving benefits.".To learn more about Champion home comfort systems, visit www.championhomecomfort.com/smarthome or follow @Champion_HVAC on Twitter.
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