The home improvement industry is expecting to boom this year as both new home building and older home retrofits and additions are being ordered by customers all over the country. You can tell this by the price of framing lumber and OSB (particle or wafer board), which is going up about 26% for the former and 80% for the latter this past year alone.
If you are building an addition, that construction material cost could be blunted by some things that can be installed to make the addition more energy efficient. One way to increase the efficiency is by choosing where the larger windows may be placed. South facing will get you more heat gain in the winter and the use of shades will keep that passive heat at bay during the summer.
More Options to Increase Energy Efficiency
A favorite item for many additions, the skylight, has been improved to make it more than just a show piece. Tubular skylights gather sunlight from the roof and transport it through a system of tubes that reflect light into a diffuser on the ceiling. This makes the light available but cuts down on heat gain in the summer. If you prefer the regular skylight, it should be no more than 10% in size compared to the room it is in as that too will reduce heat gain.
The ductless mini-split systems available today are so energy efficient that using one for an addition will save money and reduce cost, as there will be no ductwork to install. The new room(s) should also be insulated with the best R values available to again keep energy expenses to a minimum.
Contact our experienced Lorain County HAVC techs for more information on the ductless mini-splits and other items like ventilators. These highly efficient pieces of equipment can make your new additions the most comfortable rooms in the whole house.
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It doesn’t matter if you use your vacation home for personal use or for rental – you need to set aside at least a day to get it up and running for the summer. It is an easier task of course if you had closed it properly at the end of last season. Our Lorain County plumbing and heating pros have conducted our fair share of openings for clients who may have been lax in their precautions when closing up.
The most damaging mistakes are usually related to two problems: pipes were not shut off properly and freezing may have led to leaks or cracked pipes, and the lack of precaution that leads to pests getting inside and shacking up in your home for the winter. Some small critters can squeeze through holes that could have easily been closed off by caulk and siding repair. This precaution can help keep cold air out in winter and keeps air conditioned air in the summer as well so it is especially important.
If you are opening up a summer home make time for the following:
- Check all pipes for leaks. Colder weather may have caused some damage and it’s another year so pinhole leaks may be starting to show themselves in older pipes.
- Check for roof leaks and look under sinks in the bathroom and kitchen for signs of mold and mildew that also may indicate a leak
- Replace the furnace and air conditioning filters.
- Turn on utilities if they need it
- Trim shrubs and plants away from the house and check for those places that need caulking.
Once you have checked the home if you see evidence of leaks call one of our licensed plumbers at Raymond Plumbing. We can repair any leaks and replace pipes if needed. We also can do a full air conditioning check at a $15.00 discount and the clean filters are included. It will be a lot easier to get your summer off to an enjoyable start with our help.
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The prospect of finding mold usually is related to leaking pipes or poor ventilation in the humid areas of the house. There may be another place that mold exists and it is a problem that needs to be addressed. Mold can be in your ductwork due to a number of factors. It could be dangerous to your health - especially if you are mold sensitive.
How does it get there?
- Damp air conditioning coils can have mold on them and the fan transports the mold into the ducts.
- Debris in the ducts like sawdust can collect dampness and grow mold.
- Poorly made filters may let too much dust into the system and gather on the coils to foster mold growth.
- Poorly insulated ducts or ducts in damp areas that have loose connections or condensation around the duct boot may contribute to this problem too.
You can do a spore trap test while the unit is running at the vents in an effort to find mold - this may not find mold every time though, so a negative might not be conclusive. You can remove the vents and place scotch tape on your fingers and reach into the duct and see if you bring our dark substances.
If you do find mold you should look into getting the ducts cleaned. Some contractors use ozone to wipe out the spores. Other home owners have tried the do-it-yourself route by using bleach to get the job done but spores may be in unreachable areas, so a professional may be needed.
The best way to prevent this problem is to fight it at the source. A UV lamp added to the air conditioning system can kill mold spores on the coils.
Visit our website to schedule an appointment with one of our Lorain County HVAC pros and let them check for signs of mold and solve the problem by installing a UV lamp on the same visit.
photo credit: Cornell Fungi
The usual factor behind a business improving the energy efficiency of its building is, of course, saving money on utility expenses. That has always been the case and when you combine energy efficiency upgrades with government programs offering tax breaks for new buildings “going green,” it makes sense for companies to take on the expense of building a new location or moving their single location to new quarters.
Financial Benefits to Going Green
If the above reasons aren’t enough of an incentive, there are other financial rewards for building owners to retrofit existing buildings—as well as build new ones—to receive the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building designation. Efficiency in an apartment building will help reduce costs for the owner, including utilities in their fee structure. Statistically green structures usually receive higher rents than standard buildings. Asset appreciation and higher resale value for these buildings are two more financial benefits for the owner of a green building.
Green updates to present buildings can increase occupancy by more than 2%. A new building will see occupancy rates north of 6% and a corresponding 6% increase in rental rates. In a better economy, these factors would normally have the entrepreneur in you saying “when can we start?” Here is some more information for those interested in the LEED designation.
There is another benefit in improving your own building as well. Your employees will feel more comfortable in an environment with more natural lighting and better ventilation, which will improve their productivity.
Major changes and expenditures may not be necessary to attain some of these improvements. You can improve efficiency in your building’s HVAC system and your building’s ventilation by contacting our Lorain County HVAC experts.
We can inspect your current system and provide a list of improvements with our comfort system performance check—simply visit our website and schedule an appointment for this valuable service today.
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We all have a little spring fever around this time of year, and why not? Those Lorain County winters aren’t known for their warmth no matter how mild the winter can be! Spring is a good time, though, to fight the temptation to laze around and accomplish a few easy but necessary jobs. For example, moving the clocks forward during the spring serves as a good reminder to check the batteries on your smoke detector.
Let’s Talk Safety
Speaking of safety, sometimes we at Raymond Plumbing see things that people facing an emergency repair have done that is cause for concern. These repairs could have been performed quite a bit more safely and effectively with just a little better planning.
- Always have a clog cleaning agent ready in case of a clog arising when the store is closed
- If you use a chemical agent, wear gloves
- Be careful about the fumes from these products and don’t breathe them in
- Possible splash back of harsh chemicals can happen so have safety glasses available
- If you have a pipe leaking behind a wall and it needs to be cut into, you must be aware of where the electrical wires are. Water and electricity are a bad combo
- Make sure you have a proper set of tools around. Please no cutting into drywall with a steak knife or Phillips screw driver or a pen (people try all kinds of things!)
If you run into a plumbing problem at your home do not hesitate to call our experienced Lorain County plumbing and heating pros for help. We currently have a $10.00 coupon online for any plumbing visit, including emergencies, and an extra $5.00 off if you schedule an appointment for any nonemergency.
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An article recently published in Forbes magazine reported on what the search engine giant Google was doing about energy efficiency and why. As you may guess, Google hasn’t been going green just to be fashionable. According to their director of energy and sustainability Rick Needham, going green also makes good financial sense. Their logic is based on the fact that even with fracking making natural gas more affordable, fossil fuels as a group are trending upwards in price, while the cost of renewables is trending down.
Solar panels are 80% cheaper than they were five years ago. In some countries, solar is at cost parity with other power sources abroad and that day is fast approaching in the US. Solar and wind power capacity are on the increase in our country too. Last year, there was more new wind power capacity created than natural gas. Wind also outpaced new coal capacity two to one.
This is good news for Ohio as we have a stake in the wind game—both in turbine manufacturing and wind farms, which are improving “capacity factors’ nationwide. Capacity factor is the amount of time these turbines are turning. They have improved this factor from 30% to 50% with better site selection and better turbine efficiency.
A homeowner who wants to go green has some questions to answer, like “Will a geothermal heat pump make sense for my home?” These units are a great way for the average citizen to use renewables and our Lorain County HVAC contractors have them readily available for installation. Our experienced HVAC techs can give you all the information necessary to compare heat pump benefits over the more conventional but still very efficient alternatives. Visit our website today to review our tutorial on heat pumps and make an appointment with one of our expert technicians if you have any questions.
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We have been talking a long time in this country about the use of energy and its effect on the environment, the economy, and our own health and safety. Trouble in the Middle East always brings along with it thoughts of corresponding gasoline and heating oil price increases, and reducing that dependence on oil from that region always looks good every time an incident occurs.
Initial Steps for Energy Efficiency
Many clients have made the move to change their heating system from oil fired to propane or natural gas. Take one more look at last year’s heating oil bill and maybe now is the time to investigate a conversion. If you have done so in the last five years, you could still be letting some money go out the window—literally. It’s important to do your due diligence and check for drafts and leaks around the windows and doors armed with that favorite of the DIYer – a caulk gun. It wouldn’t hurt to bring along some weather stripping, too.
Rethink Your Comfort Systems
Replacing a heater or an air conditioning system with a more efficient one is one of the best places to start when you want a more comfortable home at a better price. If you have upgraded your systems but haven’t really thought about the units since the original work was performed, you might be losing out on those savings that inspired the upgrade.
A relatively new unit, less than five years old, could benefit from our comfort performance plan. We can check your heater and air conditioner at the appropriate time of year and keep them both running at top efficiency all season long. We also do safety checks as part of the service giving these workhorses the full treatment.
Visit our website and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced HVAC pros for a performance check today. A comfort system performance check will result in fewer worries, improved safety and more money saved - that’s what we call making a good unit better.
Many people are familiar with Earth Day, but there is a less popular awareness program underway—National Building Safety Month. May is the month for this event and, like Earth Day, it is worldwide and was created to bring information to anyone interested in safety, environmental issues, staying healthy, conserving resources and helping others.
National Building Safety Month
Building Safety Month has goals similar to Earth day – supporting the use of green construction materials, improving energy efficiency, etc. The primary difference is that National Building Safety Month focuses more on the indoor environment along with the work for better construction codes and improving overall safety.
Sick Building Disease
Sick Building Disease has been a topic of this awareness program in the past and let’s face it, if outdoor pollution was gone tomorrow, your indoor environment would still need to be healthful. Luckily there are ways to keep indoor pollution at bay and that goal is much more attainable because it is in a more controlled space.
You can observe both by treating the building you call home like the earth on Earth day and performing your own “acts of green.”
- If you smoke it’s best to do so outdoors
- Check for air leakage around all windows and doors and seal them up Replace all heating and air conditioning filters often
- Replace them with pleated, electrostatic filters that catch dust mite debris, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander much better than fiber glass filters
- Consider getting a mechanical or electronic air cleaner
- Call a professional in to clean your entire heating and air conditioning system while making improvements to its performance
That last one is where our experienced Lorain County plumbing and heating contractors can help. Our HVAC system performance checks go far past simple filter cleaning. It will improve your systems performance and save you money. We can also discuss our air purification products in detail and make recommendations about each to help you create the healthiest possible environment inside of your home.
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Just when it got nice enough to go outside and not worry about the cold and flu season about 20% of all Lorain County residents get to remember that it is allergy time. The cold hard fact is that the plants and trees we work on this time of year are the nemesis of those 20%.The Pollen Library makes no bones about it saying all airborne allergens come from plants so you need some help to counter their effects. You can use that website to check the daily pollen forecast for your local area. The best place to fight these particles is in the home.
Here are few ways to reduce the dust and pollen in your house:
- Cover your mattress and pillows with dust mite covers
- Check the bathroom for mold and give it a proper spring cleaning
- Look into purchasing a vacuum cleaner with an HEPA Grade filter
- Speaking of filters, change the heating and air conditioning filters often.
- You may have too much or too little humidity in the home - have it checked with a hydrometer.
You should also visit our website and check our clean air products that can be an enormous help to improve the comfort of allergy sufferers. A mechanical or electronic air cleaner can trap many more particles than a heating or air conditioning filter can. There are all types of ventilation options from having bathroom and kitchen fans taking air directly outside to ones attached to your comfort system that can clean and even warm or cool incoming air.
Visit our website and schedule an appointment with our HVAC technicians for an air conditioning performance check. We can change the filter and improve that unit’s capacity and talk with you about all your other indoor air improvement options.
Photo credit: |Chris|
The good old days may seem like that in your memory but let’s not slight the good new days. Fondly remembering what you saw and did when you were young might have its place but there were plenty of things that weren’t so good that we seem to ignore when current problems crop up.
You might say we are in wonderland today with all the digital products and information at our fingertips making life easier and safer. Some of them even can save you money, without the danger associated with toxic substances - I’m talking about the good old thermostat that uses mercury switches to get the job done.This was the focus of a funny blog at the Green Building Advisor by Allison A. Bailes III that included jabs at things both new and old. She even has a theory that since mercury is toxic and was used in making hats that may have been the Mad Hatter’s undoing in Alice in Wonderland.
On the positive side this type of thermostat is very easy to adjust as conditions change but the mercury factor is a drawback. Mercury is involved in other energy source as well: the coal used to make electricity. As Dr. Bailes points out when coal is burned it releases mercury into the air, just like it did in the good old days.
Reducing your electrical usage by replacing appliances with more efficient ones continues to be a sound strategy for saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. That old thermostat can also be replaced with a more efficient and money saving digital thermostat that can be adjusted by your computer or Smartphone while you aren’t even on the premises.
Visit our website and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Lorain County HVAC contractors today to talk about a thermostat upgrade today. We can safely remove and dispose of the mercury based thermostat for you and install the money saving digital replacement in minutes.
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