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
(BPT) - Ask any homeowner what they dread the most when it comes to home ownership, and it’s likely to involve some type of undetected water damage that could result in mold and mildew in their walls and ceilings — and the problems that follow.
Most water damage in homes is associated with pipes and appliances, especially those that are not regularly maintained. Left unchecked, resulting mold and mildew can potentially cause health problems.
Six of the most common causes of water damage include:
* Window or roof leak that causes water to run down inside the cavity of the wall or ceiling
* Gutter clog that can cause rainwater to back up into your home
* Icemaker water line to the refrigerator that leaks, causing mold in the cavity or on the surface of the wall
* Washing machine or dishwasher water hose failure that can cause mold within the wall
* Air conditioner unit clog or drip pan overflow that can cause water to run down the interior wall or ceiling
* Nail in PVC pipe that results in water leak or bursting pipes
“Homeowners need to realize that the effects of water damage in their homes aren’t always visible — and once you find them, it’s likely mold growth already has occurred and can affect everything on the wall surface and behind it,” said Anitra Mecadon, TV personality and award-winning interior designer.
There are three main ways to protect against water damage and the issues that follow:
Use drywall with extra protection for your walls and ceilings — such as moisture-, mold- and mildew-resistant PURPLE XP drywall by National Gypsum — whether you’re building a new home, or remodeling or restoring the one you have. PURPLE XP products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified for indoor air quality while aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments.
Routinely inspect vulnerable areas to prevent water damage before it occurs. Every few months grab a flashlight and do some sleuthing under sinks, behind appliances and around windows to check for moistness, rust, kinks or damage in water lines and hoses, and a musty odor. On a regular basis have professionals check things out, especially your air conditioning unit.
Act quickly to minimize damage from water intrusion, because mildew and mold can begin to grow within 24-48 hours of water exposure.
“I don’t know a single homeowner that hasn’t had a water problem of some kind at some point in the history of living in their home,” Mecadon says. “My advice is simple — be prepared. Walls and what they’re made of are important and they’re not all the same.
When you can, choose PURPLE XP drywall for performance, value and peace of mind that lasts.”
For more information, go to www.AskForPurple.com.
(BPT) - It's time to replace your old, energy-guzzling water heater, boiler, dehumidifier or furnace and you've done your homework. You're going to save energy and money in the long run by switching to a high-efficiency condensing heater or boiler. Good for you! But as with any home improvement project, it's important to know the nuances of proper installation - even if you're relying on a professional to do the job.
A growing number of homeowners are turning to boilers, HVAC systems and water heaters that rely on condensing to maximize the unit's efficiency. Instead of venting hot exhaust gases out through a flue, these units capture additional heat from the exhaust and use it to enhance the unit's heating capability - water gets heated faster, using less energy. Although condensing units often cost more than conventional options, the energy savings can quickly offset the higher initial price tag.
However, condensing units present a new problem - condensate waste. Water is the byproduct of the efficiency-boosting condensing process, but waste water produced from a combustion process ends up being acidic. When natural gas burns inside a furnace or boiler, the flame draws in atmospheric nitrogen. The heat causes a chemical reaction that creates nitrogen dioxide and nitrous oxide - both of which get dissolved into the waste water.
"If the condensate waste is vented into a home's plumbing system, over time the acidic water can corrode the metal pipes," explains Chris Peterson of Saniflo, a manufacturer of drain-pump systems. "Ultimately, the thing homeowners did to save them money, ends up costing them hundreds or even thousands of dollars when they have to replace pipes deteriorated by acidic condensate."
Pumping the waste outside the home or into sanitary sewers usually isn't a good solution. Those tactics either put the acidic waste into ground water, or channel it through municipal and county owned pipes that can also be corroded by the condensate waste.
"The smart, long-term solution is to neutralize the acidic content in the condensate waste before it ever goes into any piping," he says. "Condensate waste neutralization is also required by the International Plumbing Codes, which are in force in many parts of the country. Some areas, like New England, are already strictly enforcing this code for installation of condensing units. Other states will soon follow."
One solution that many contractors and homeowners have turned to is adding a neutralizing unit, like the Sanicondens Best. The condensate pump has a built-in neutralizer, and can be outfitted on any condensing boiler, HVAC system or water heater. Condensate waste gets filtered through limestone granules in a tray before the pump moves the water into the sewer or septic system. The pump ensures condensate waste doesn't linger in or around the unit, and the neutralizing function removes the acidity that could damage water and sewer pipes.
"High-efficiency condensing boilers, HVAC systems and water heaters can help homeowners reduce their fuel costs over the life of the systems," Peterson says. "But to really get the maximum value - and ensure your money-saving investment doesn't cause problems down the road - it's important to also neutralize the condensate waste such units emit."
To learn more about condensate waste neutralization and the Sanicondens Best, visit www.saniflo.com.
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