Ask The Inspector
Q. What Does an Inspector Look for When It Comes to Heating Systems?
Utility costs in the winter go up in most regions of the United States. Cold weather can tax any home heating system, which is why having an NPI inspector look at yours can mean great savings. These systems vary depending on geography and available fuels and an inspection from NPI will take into account your unique needs.
Identifying the energy source used to heat your property, and its delivery system, is part of a general home inspection. The inspector will check for a master system shut-off switch, which is important for both safety and convenience. The condition of the equipment, maintenance history, the state of the filter, and the ventilation system will all be inspected.
Heating and cooling typically takes up about a half of what most homeowners spend on utilities. That’s why knowing the current condition of these systems is important whether you are buying a home or needing a seasonal checkup.
Filters on heating and cooling systems should be cleaned and checked once a month depending on manufacturer instructions. When you hold the filter up to a light, you should be able to see through it. If you can’t, then it’s time to replace or clean it.
Reduce Hot Water Bills
Do you want to lower your water heating bills this winter? You’d be surprised at just how simple it can be to knock quite a few dollars off your monthly utility bill each month. Here are some tips for energy-efficient water heating.
- Reduce your hot water by repairing leaks in fixtures and installing new low-flow fixtures on showerheads and faucets. When replacing dishwashers or clothes washers, purchase energy-efficient appliances with an Energy Star® label.
- Lower the thermostat setting on your water heater and save between 3 to 5 percent for each 10-degree reduction in your water temperature. Consult your water heater owner’s manual first.
- If you have an electric water heater, install a timer that will shut off the water heater at night when you don’t use hot water and during your utility’s peak demand times. This could save an additional 5 to 12 percent of energy.
- Insulate your water heater tank and hot water pipes.
Just a few simple steps can keep your hot water bill from draining your funds each month. This is especially true in the winter months, but following a few of these guidelines can save you the entire year.
Snapshots From The Field
What’s Wrong With This Photo?
- It is the wrong finish
- It is installed backwards
- It is blocking the window from opening
Correct Answer C. The faucet was installed without making note of the direction that the window opens. The window can now not open because the faucet blocks it from doing so.
If you are looking to redesign a room, a professional designer can help you create a new space, but it may be costly. At $50 to $250 an hour in most major metropolitan areas, these services can be cost prohibitive. That’s why taking on this challenge by yourself can mean great savings.
Here are a few tips to take on a re-design by yourself:
- Group In Threes or Fives – A common rule of thumb is that odd numbered rows of decorative items are more visually interesting.
- Vary Heights of Items – An eclectic mix of heights for decorative elements really varies a wall’s look. Tall, medium and short pictures will be more visually appealing than consistent rows.
- Rotate What You Display – Things can get a little boring when you look at the same space day in day out. That’s why switching out pictures, stacks of books or other design elements really freshens up a space.
These are just a few suggestions to quickly spruce up a room. From new paint to re-imagined flooring, there’s a whole lot you can do to mix things up in any space. Take a look at the room you want to redesign and see what you have on hand. You may be surprised at what you can do with small changes.
Sizing for Heating Savings
A furnace, boiler or heat pump is part of a whole-house system of vents, ducts, returns and, of course, heating elements. In order to have an efficient, cost effective system, it’s important to consider sizing.
An oversized heating or heating system will cycle on and off frequently. This can reduce the life of the equipment and increase noise as the air flow changes rapidly. An undersized system will run continuously in an attempt to heat the home, also causing excessive wear on certain components.
According to Energy Star guidelines, proper sizing of a heating and cooling unit should include a design-load calculation, taking into account the following:
- How well a home is insulated
- How well air leaks are sealed
- How well ducts throughout the house are sealed and insulated
- The size, type, number of windows and the direction they face
- Shading from landscaping
- The size, layout and orientation of the house
Although it may cost more for a contractor knowledgeable about these calculations to assess the efficiency of the system, it can be worth it in repairs and energy savings. For more information, click here.
Did You Know?
The Heat Pump Advantage
Most heat systems create heat from burning some type of fuel, such as propane, oil or natural gas. Nearly 50 percent of homes in the United States use natural gas as their main source of heat. Heat pumps are one of the alternatives.
Air-to-air heat pumps use the difference between the indoor and outdoor air temperatures to heat and cool the home. Heat is transferred from the outside to the inside for heating purposes, and from the inside to the outside for cooling purposes. Geothermal heat pumps use the natural constant temperature of the earth a few feet below the surface to heat and cool the home.
Because only electricity needs to be purchased for operation of this equipment, it is considered a highly-efficient option in certain areas. However, the efficiency decreases when temperatures drop below 20 degrees F, requiring the use of a backup or emergency system.
For Your Information
New Years Resolution: Get Rid of Clutter
It’s 2017! That means we can set any resolution we want. A common one begins with our homes, and the main culprit is clutter. Begin the New Year with an organized home using these tips for getting your home in order.
Begin the de-clutter process slowly. Ask yourself a series of questions such as: “does this add value to my life?”; “When was the last time I used it?”; “Could someone else use it or is it junk?”
Label each item with “donations,” “trash,” or “keep.” Keep markers or stickers handy when going through each item.
Pack away items not used year-round, like sports equipment and seasonal clothing. Write an identifying label on each storage container you put away.
Ask a friend or relative to help. It’s easier to sort through items effectively when someone with a different perspective is with you.
Maintain a clutter-free home by not encouraging items to build up. If you purchase one new thing, get rid of something old. Small things do add up.
The important thing is to stay on top of the de-cluttering process. It’s easy to have unneeded or unwanted items take up space, but ridding your space of unused or underused items will only keep your home tidy and organized.
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What are three of the best indicators of real estate market trends?
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