Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Real Benefits of Home Insulation

Our clients are more aware than ever about how much an insulation upgrade can save them on heating and cooling bills essentially year-round. We’ve worked on homes that had no insulation on an exterior wall whatsoever, let alone an inferior insulation strategy. Benefits of Home InsulationThe result was the homeowner wasting money for sometimes 15-20 years on higher utility costs as well as increased wear and tear on their HVAC system – not to mention having to sit in a room that is incredibly uncomfortable.

Implementing an improved insulation approach can offer considerable return on investment. Depending on the current situation, payback for the upgrade can be achieved in less than a season along with the priceless benefit of having a home that is much more pleasant to live in temperature-wise. That being said, lower utility bills are only a fraction of the reason why a home insulation upgrade is one of the best renovation projects you can undertake.

Dilutes Outside Sound

Something that often goes overlooked is the fact that insulation creates a barrier not only to retain warm or cooled air, it is also very effective at controlling sound. To many homeowners, having a quiet home largely isolated from outside disturbances is almost priceless. This is especially helpful in crowded housing developments where barking dogs, playing kids, and heavy vehicle traffic is very disturbing. It should also be noted that insulation keeps sound in as well as out so feel free to yell at the TV during a bad referee call or when a reality show contestant picks the wrong soul mate.

Creates an Extra Barrier Against Allergens

Dust, pollen, and dander can work its way inside your house by even permeating through the walls and the smallest gaps in siding, near windows & doors, etc. Beefed up insulation is virtually impenetrable by these allergens, creating a much better breathing environment inside the house. For heavy allergy sufferers who spend money annually on HVAC duct cleaning, it’s almost a worthless expense if adequate insulation isn’t installed as well.

Control Humidity Better

Insulation forms an important middle man between the outside environment and interior controlled air. As you’ve sometimes noticed with condensation on windows, moisture can also form on your insulation in the walls interior if it is not of adequate R-value. Thicker, stronger, and more durable insulation can resist this moisture which helps to avoid an uncomfortable interior environment while reducing the risk of mold growth and spreading.

Gives Home a Higher Market Value

Upgrading home insulation will not only provide you more comfort and lower utility bills now, it serves as a great selling point for your home down the line. Future buyers like the allure of an intense insulation strategy that will help keep their costs to a minimum and will expand the life span of the existing HVAC system.

Lowers Emissions and Carbon Footprint

Finally one of the best reasons for upgrading the insulation in your home’s walls and attic is to use less energy on a daily basis which in turn helps lower gas emissions and overall carbon footprint. NAIMA studies claim that proper insulation of buildings in the United States could cut carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 780 tons annually.

Even though it’s for the most part hidden, your home’s insulation should be of some concern. It could be argued the fact that your current insulation is hidden is even more reason to have an inspection/audit so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Why deal with higher-than-required utility bills for even one more season when an insulation upgrade offers so many considerable advantages?


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Making Sure Your Home’s Electrical System is Safe

When a storm hits and brings with it thunder and lightning, homeowners tend to be a little more vigilant with their electrical system. Whether you unplug your computer and big screen TV to avoid the risk of them being zapped or you just become more aware and look for sights and smells that would indicate a strike, at least safety is on the forefront of your mind. What really becomes dangerous then is when electrical systems default in otherwise normal weather conditions.

ElectricalThe truth is, we rarely think about our home’s electrical systems until something goes wrong. A simple issue like a light switch not turning on is a nuisance, but one that comes with an easy fix. Wires shorting out and starting fires behind the drywall however is dangerous, costly to repair and potentially fatal. The correct approach then is to be more circumspect about your home’s electrical system on a routine basis:

Get an Inspection

We recommend an annual inspection of your electrical system if anything for a sound peace of mind. We check wires, outlets, circuit breakers and more to make sure everything is in working order and to lower risks of accidents. Also, having an annual inspection ensures your energy consumption is where it should be – possibly saving you on utility bills over the course of the year.  In many instances an electrical inspection is even required as part of your homeowners insurance policy.

Get Issues Fixed Quickly

Sometimes we have a tendency to let home issues slide if they aren’t deemed an immediate threat/concern. This happens a lot with your electrical system whether it be an outlet that doesn’t work, a light that shorts out, etc. Instead of ‘dealing with’ these issues in the same manner of putting a piece of electrical tape over your check engine light, get your electrical system checked out right away. Areas of your home that aren’t getting adequate power are a sign that something is wrong and should be fixed immediately.

Make Sure Proper Safety Precautions are in Place Where Needed

There is a rhyme and reason to certain safety precautions regarding your home’s electrical system. GFCI outlets for example are placed near water sources so that power is disconnected when in contact with water. Other precautions such as strategic placement of smoke detectors are issues that can be identified with a home electrical safety audit.

Examine Electrical Cords

Even if the internal workings of your home’s electrical system are in perfect working order, using an appliance with a frayed cord can present a safety danger. It can be tempting to salvage an appliance with some neatly applied tape on an exposed cord but the risks simply aren’t worth the reward.

Get More Outlets Installed if Needed

If your home resembles the Griswold Family Christmas energy use with 17 light plugs on a single outlet, it’s time to upgrade your electrical capacity. Many of our clients are finding that the outlet placement (especially in older homes) simply aren’t set up for today’s phone charger, laptop, tablet, and other electronic requirements so adding outlets is one of our most popular renovations.

If You Aren’t Comfortable Working With Electricity, Call a Professional

We like to recommend homeowners flex their DIY muscles whenever possible when it comes to weekend projects that expand their home improvement knowledge. That being said, electrical issues should almost 100% of the time be left to the professionals. Simply put, there are just too many dangers to both body and home when working on outlets, switches, and wires when unqualified.

Contact us for more information about electrical inspections, safety, and upgrades.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Need a New Air-Conditioner? Make Sure to Find the Right One

As the Spring and impending warmer weather quickly approach it’s not a bad time to inspect on whether your current air-conditioner is up for another rigorous cooling season. We generally recommend running your current HVAC system until it dies completely but costly, consistent repairs or an old unit that is a huge energy drain are ripe circumstances for a replacement. When it does come time to search for a new air-conditioner, follow these tips to make sure you find the correct replacement.

Man Fixing AC UnitWhat Type of A/C?

Most of our clients who are looking for a replacement for their malfunctioning air-conditioner will opt for a new system of the same type since the infrastructure for that type is already in place. What this basically means is that if you already have a central A/C, split-duct system, geothermal, etc. it’s most convenient to buy a replacement of that type. Of course in new home builds, additions, or when customers are simply looking for an upgrade it may be worthwhile to investigate all your options. Contact us for more information depending on your home’s size, your budget, your cooling needs, etc.

Air Conditioner Size

Finding the correct size air-conditioner is crucial and arguably the most important aspect of selecting a new unit. Air-conditioners simply can’t be purchased with the ‘bigger is better’ mantra because A/Cs not only cool the room, but condition it as well. An air-conditioner will cycle out existing air, remove the moisture from it, and send it back in chilled and dry. An A/C that is too big will cool the room too fast and thus won’t have time to remove the moisture from the air. In comparison, a unit that is too small will cycle too frequently and drive up utility bill costs.

Energy Efficiency

If you find yourself needing a new air-conditioner – consider yourself lucky. Granted, the upfront costs can sometimes be difficult to procure but you’ll soon find yourself with money left over every month thanks to lower energy consumption. That is, of course, as long as you find a new A/C that is as energy efficient as possible. Make sure to purchase an air-conditioner that has a high seasonal energy efficiency (SEER) rating and high energy efficiency ratio (EER). The better these ratings, the lower the electrical input needed to operate the systems which results in more manageable utility bills.


A few other features are nowadays considered “must-haves” instead of extras. One example is a dual-speed cooling fan which increases the energy efficiency by using one fan to cool the room and other to help maintain that temperature. These are used with adjustable and programmable thermostats to control temperatures at peak times as well as down periods. Another feature that sets apart different A/C units from each other is the length and type of warranty offered. You can really recoup your investment knowing it will last 12-15+ years based on the manufacturer warranty.

Regardless of what type of air-conditioner you end up getting installed in your building, it is up to the homeowner to help get the most from its lifespan. This means having adequate insulation installed in the walls and attic while having regular maintenance performed on the unit.