Even if you’re not terribly handy, there are many simple household repairs that you can easily do yourself to avoid unnecessary time and expense. This is especially true in the winter, when little improvements can make a big difference in your comfort and energy consumption. These common household fixes to winter-proof your home are easy enough for a novice, but might just give you a boost of confidence to tackle bigger projects in the future.
5 DIY Winter Home Repair Hacks
(Family Features) Even if you’re not terribly handy, there are many simple household repairs that you can easily do yourself to avoid unnecessary time and expense. This is especially true in the winter, when little improvements can make a big difference in your comfort and energy consumption.
If you’re like most people, your home is your single largest investment, so it’s common to be apprehensive about tackling home repairs if you have little experience. However, learning to do some basic home maintenance is a smart way to protect and maintain your home’s value without having to locate, schedule and supervise a contractor.
These common household fixes to winter-proof your home are easy enough for a novice, but might just give you a boost of confidence to tackle bigger projects in the future.
Seal air leaks
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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.
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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.
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Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating
(BPT) - What would you rather do: Pay your utility bill or take a much-deserved vacation? With an endless stream of bills each month, you might wonder where you can find the money to jet off to the beach or mountain resort of your dreams. There is a solution.
The average U.S. household spends more than $2,200 yearly on energy bills, with about half of that for heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). As a large portion of that energy is wasted, making your home more energy efficient will pay big dividends.
With only a couple weekends of work, these three simple low-cost DIY projects can significantly reduce your home cooling costs, freeing up money year after year so you can take vacations or do other fun activities. Best of all, the three actions work together to not only reduce your utility bills, but to make your home more comfortable year-round.
1. Add insulation
Chances are your home lacks sufficient insulation, despite when it was built. Some 90 percent of U.S. homes are under-insulated, reports the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA). Fortunately, adding insulation is simple, with products readily available at your local home improvement store.
One of the most cost-effective and easiest types of insulation to work with is expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid foam boards. EPS panels are simple to cut to size without creating a mess, are recyclable and can be installed throughout your home, including in walls, floors, ceilings and foundation walls. A similar material, graphite polystyrene (GPS), also is easy to work with, and provides even higher insulating power, according to manufacturers. One of the EPS and GPS brands available at home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s is R-Tech insulation from Insulfoam. “R-Tech EPS and GPS insulations offer some of the highest insulating power per dollar,” says Michael McAuley, Insulfoam general manager.
2. Seal air leaks
While inadequate insulation allows heat to pass out of your home in winter or to come in during summer, another path for energy loss is air leaks. Insulating your home and sealing air leaks can save you up to 20 percent on home heating and cooling costs, notes the DOE. Common places to look for leaks include attic access hatches, around windows and doors and in crawl spaces. Readily available weather stripping, caulks and spray foams can help keep your home airtight. For step-by-step instructions, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR."
3. Install a programmable thermostat
With your newly insulated and sealed home, a third step you can take to cut energy bills is to install a programmable thermostat. The DOE estimates you can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs by simply turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day. In the summer, keep your house warmer than normal when you are away, and set the thermostat to 78 degrees when you are at home and need cooling. Set your thermostat at as high a temperature as comfortably possible. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
These three utility bill-busting tips are within the skill set of many homeowners, but if you want a little extra help, hiring a contractor is also cost effective, as these are not large projects.
Any effort to get organized will only be effective if the approach works for the whole family. Make your kitchen and pantry meet your family’s needs with these organization tips to help reduce clutter.
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