HeaterRepair

It’s coming to be the time of year when utilities costs generally begin to rise, as our home’s insulation is truly put to the test, and you get a chance to see how efficient your home’s heating system is. When the winter time comes around, and the temperatures begin to plummet, it’s vital that you take the necessary steps to save as much as possible on your monthly utilities, or else they could easily get out of hand. As your home begins to age, and the foundation starts to crack and deteriorate, putting into action a few small steps can be a huge difference maker between potentially hundreds of dollars per month. We’ve compiled some of our top tips for making your home more energy efficient before the winter cold starts jacking up your heating costs! If you have any additional tips for saving on home utilities, please reach out to us using our contact page, we’d love to hear your ideas!

Our most important tips have to do with ensuring that your home’s electrical appliances are up to date and running correctly, because one of the biggest money wasters from any homeowner’s perspective is a heater that rarely turns off, or a cold draft blowing underneath your doors or through your thin window panes. Filling up any gaps, cracks, and thin-layers of glass or plastic can be a huge help in reducing the cost of your utilities and saving energy in the long run. If you are noticing that your home is constantly cold, or your heater is running most of the day, then you may want to look into some actions you can take to reduce that usage, such as applying an insulating plastic layer over the interior of your windows, utilizing a foam-based “gap filler” to plug any potential holes in your walls/doors, and purchasing gap sealers – sliding pieces that attach to the bottoms of your doors, removing the small cracks from underneath. All of these products are excellent at increasing your energy conservation and ensuring your home’s utilities stay low.

HeaterRepair

If you are unsure of where to purchase insulating products, or don’t want to spend money and would rather look into more cost-efficient solutions, one great tip we used to use back in the day was to hang spare blankets and sheets over thin windows. These absorb a majority of the cold air that comes through, and always help to trap in warm air and continue circulating it throughout your home. If you haven’t be sure to check the air filters in your home’s HVAC system, and ensure that all of the major appliances are running correctly. In some cases, if you notice an abnormal spike in your utilities or energy usage, you may want to purchase a Kill-A-Watt system, which plugs into an outlet and allows you to see exactly how much energy an appliance is using. This is great to see if that room heater you are using is wasting more energy than it’s saving.

Once you’ve figured out the weak points in your home’s energy efficiency, it’s important that you take the proper steps to correct them. Spending $50-100 before the winter season begins could pay off in utility costs throughout the season, and the changes you implement will last for seasons to come as well. If you decide to opt for more expensive, but permanent solutions for your energy costs, then they will definitely pay off eventually. This is generally better if you plan on staying in your current home for years to come. If you are renting a home, you may want to pursue some of the more affordable, yet not as permanent solutions. Pursuing potential attic/crawl space insulation upgrades could be beneficial as well, if your system is older or outdated.

While many modern homes are now constructed with windows that block the majority of harmful UV (Ultra-Violet) rays from the sun, there are times when you may want to purchase additional window films to help block out the full spectrum of UV-Rays that your existing windows may let through. Often times, windows will block the majority of less-harmful UV-B rays, but will allow a small amount of UV-A rays through.

If you are sensitive to sunlight, heat, or want to just minimize your exposure to harmful UV-rays, a window film may be exactly what you’re looking for. There are generally 3 types of window films that help reduce your exposure:

1. Insulating Window Films

These are one of the most popular designs, because they not only help block UV-rays, but drastically reduce the heat coming into your home, letting your air conditioning run less and saving you money in the long run. In addition, during the winter season, the same film will work to insulate your warm air inside your home, allowing you to save on your heating bill.

Insulating window films are also used to help reduce the amount and severity of fading on carpets, furniture, fabrics, and other household objects. These are the go-to window films in terms of overall quality and value. They are very energy-efficient and can be the perfect compliment to your existing windows.

2. Glare-Reducing Window Films

Another popular category of window screens are those that help to reduce the bright glare on your TV or computer screen. These are becoming more common since electronics have become ingrained in every home. Many times, you have to choose between having beautiful natural light coming into your home, or having a massive glare on your computer screen, which is a lose-lose situation. With glare-reducing window films, however, you will be able to take full advantage of both to truly be comfortable in your home’s office space! In many states out west, with looming landscapes and unblocked sun-rays, these are gaining traction through window installation companies such as High Country Window Tint.

3. Privacy Window Films

As the age of privacy becomes to grow more into the spotlight, these window films help your physical while still allowing natural light to permeate your home’s interior. In many cases, these window films are translucent, frosted films that are applied directly to the glass of your windows. They offer not only day time privacy, but let natural light filter through your windows as well. For a great mix of both privacy and UV-protection, these can be the best choice. Often, home owners will utilize these types of window films near the front door, so you can see if there is someone on the porch without them being able to see into the house.

There are a few aspects to keep in mind when you are going through the purchasing process of window film, such as:

– Total Solar Energy Rejection
– Light Transmission
– Visible Light Reflectance
– UV Rejection
– Shading Co-efficient

These are all different factors and terms that are thrown around the different window films, so be sure to thoroughly conduct your research before deciding on a product to install. Above all else, make sure you are happy with the design of the window film – if you install it throughout your home and don’t like the look, it can be a major headache to take care of!

Cat Clean Carpets

A Unique Environmentally-Themed Event With Toxin-Free Gear

With spring cleaning on some people’s minds, and Earth Day around the corner, getting rid of toxins and artificial fragrances are a great way to clean house. Noone wants lingering effects of any kinds of toxic items or rubbery, chemical smells lingering around the house.

Fifteen years ago, an American advocacy group called Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) was founded to eliminate a variety of toxins in cosmetics and household products. WVE is still around today, advocating for families to watch out for seemingly healthy cleaners that have been linked to reproductive and respiratory illnesses. With the low-quality of many products these days, chemicals and toxic ingredients are a lot more common than you may think.

A good way to clean your home of dirt and unsafe chemicals at the same time is by making your own household cleaners from items you find in your own kitchen. Now, how to make it both fun – and economical? WVE recommends hosting a cleaning party.

Why Host a Green Cleaning Party?

A Green Cleaning Party does not mean inviting guests over to clean the host’s home: All guests share the cost of buying bulk amounts of the main ingredients to make environmentally safe cleaners. For instance, a 32oz bottle of a store brand of all-purpose cleaner can cost anywhere from $4 to $8 dollars (Canadian or U.S.)

However, a 32oz of a home-made cleaner can cost 38 cents or less, if the ingredients are bought in bulk. Alone, the cost of olive oil, castile soap, Borax and baking soda might be intimidating to some budgets, forcing people with lower incomes to more affordable, but potentially toxic choices.

Pooling resources like money and empty containers among friends, and packaging them together can make this process fun. Make invitations for an Earth Day friendly event, as an excuse to get together and really make a difference in the level of parabens and bleaches that are currently in most commercial cleansers. There are many non-toxic, healthy, organic, completely green and eco-friendly cleaning items you can make yourself, ranging from soaps, to cleaners, to laundry detergent, to everything in between!

Carpet Cleaning

Earth Day Party Invitations

In your Earth Day party, reassure guests that cleaning ingredients will not be mixed while drinking cocktails, but fun “detergent themed” or “green” drinks will be available once all the cleansers have been made and put away. To really lower the event’s carbon footprint, send out invitations by email or electronic greeting cards.

Take a poll among your friends of who would like to make what kind of household cleaner, and agree to make the kinds that everyone agrees on. Not everyone may want furniture polish or drain-openers. Having everyone bring bottles and jars will also ensure that everyone gets to take home enviro-friendly products – safely. If you’d like, you can even swing by a dollar store in your area to find mason jars, glass bottles, and other easy to use containers.

Tips for Making Your Earth Day Party Easier

  • Ensure that there is easy access to a sink and plenty of elbow room at a table and/or counter.
  • Have labels pre-printed out or scribbled on masking tape for ready identification once poured into a bottle or jar. Print the item’s “recipe” and tape it to the container. This will help identifying the ingredients if a toddler should accidentally consume it – a call to the local poison control centre would help identify ingredients more easily than from a commercial cleaner.
  • If your kitchen space is limited, have guests make their batches in rounds. Half the room can enjoy cocktails while the other half mix their cleansers, then switch.
  • Email your friends the link that compares the prices of commercial cleaners with homemade ones: It includes “cleanser recipes” that they can make on their own, later.

Make Chemical-Themed Cocktails for Earth Day

A shot of the unnatural-looking blue curaçao into any cocktail is guaranteed to make it look like Windex or an industrial-strength chemical. Below is a recipe adapted from the LCBO Cocktail Lounge:

(Not-A) Glass Cleaner Cocktail

  • 1oz vodka (plain, vanilla or blueberry flavoured)
  • 1/2 oz blue curaçao
  • 3oz lemonade
  • Fill a shaker with lemonade, vodka and blue Curaçao. Strain into a martini glass or large tumbler.

If your guests feel like they’d like to do more than drink cocktails and nibble on round, earth-shaped finger sandwiches, try encouraging them to sign a petition to get your government to persuade cleaning product companies to disclose their ingredients. Our health is tied in to our planet’s health.

Window Efficiency

Keeping your home properly efficient energy-wise can be the difference between a thousand dollar utility bill or a few hundred. There’s a ton of different strategies, procedures, and various methods that many companies and home renovation companies will incorporate to ensure that a newly-built or freshly-renovated home is energy efficient. In today’s world, the need to not only conserve energy, but reduce our use of it in general, is extremely important. Think of your home as a machine, a system of some sort. You have to reduce, downsize, and properly plan out your home’s inner workings in order to see proper energy-efficient results.

Keeping your home energy-efficient not only saves you money in your annual budget, but also helps save you time and potential hassle in the future that can result from not taking these steps initially. You also can improve the performance of your home’s natural systems such as its HVAC system by being energy-efficient and taking various budget-saving and frugal measures that help to not only reduce the load of the energy going through your home, but also helps them chug along faster, sleeker, and better.

One of the first steps that the majority of contractors and home renovation experts will do to properly ensure your home is energy-efficient is to do an overall, very thorough, in-depth check of your home’s insulation in general. There are many things that encapsulate your home, and it’s important to go over each and every one to ensure the energy-saving properties of each, and whether or not it will be a problem in the future. The major items that most professionals will examine include your walls, attic, basement/crawl space, windows, and doors. This involves a proper inspection of the seals, gaps, cracks, and anything that may potentially be limiting your energy-efficiency, such as thin glass windows or plexi-glass windows that allow cold air to come through your home. There are also many other ways that home renovation professionals will consider to help improve your home’s performance and reduce your carbon footprint: clean energy sources! Utilizing solar power, geothermal energy, or hydroelectric power can not only cost you less, but helps contribute to reducing the effects of global warming and removing fossil fuels from your home!

So for a proper energy-efficient home design, we will walk through each area and item of your home, and describe what we believe should be inspected and thoroughly looked over, starting with your windows.

Energy-Efficient Windows

Ensuring your windows, whether old or new, are energy efficient is extremely important. Many homeowners don’t realize that massive amounts of cold and hot air constantly are coming through your window via temperature transfer. If you notice small drafts of air, or see that your windows are old or starting to warp around the edges, it’s more than likely time for you to put in your budget to replace them with excellent, energy-saving replacement windows. For smaller budgets, there are also a variety of ways to help with insulating windows without a complete replacement, such as:

  • Weather Stripping
  • Storm Windows
  • Gap Sealer
  • Plastic Insulation Sheets
  • Thick, Heavy Window Drapings & Covers

Window Efficiency

In general, if you already have windows installed in your home, and aren’t planning on going through an entire renovation or window replacement process already, it is, in the majority of cases, more budget-friendly and way more affordable to go with other ways such as weather stripping. However, if you do go through with energy-efficient windows with great ratings, you will definitely see the results pay off in your utility bills through the years to come.

Walls, Attics, & Basement/Crawl Space Insulation

Ensuring that your walls, attics, and other areas within your home such as the basement and/or crawl space are properly insulated is more than likely the next step to properly ensuring your home is energy efficient and cost-effective. Basically, having proper insulation within your walls, attics, basements, and crawl spaces will help to do two things: reduce the flow of heat that is coming out of your house in the winter season, and helps to keep out heat that may be coming into your home during the summer season. Having energy-efficient insulation can greatly improve your comfort and save your home a lot of energy over time.

If you have an unfinished attic/basement/crawlspace or other room in your home, it’s important to get it properly insulated. Whether you want to use blown-in insulation in your walls and attics, or some other type of insulation that is more costly but higher-quality, it pays off in the long run.

Attic Insulation

What’s more important than the materials and products you decide to use is the installers that you choose to go with. A certified, professional window installer can be the difference between a horrible job with an expensive, high-quality window that still lets in air, or an excellent job with a budget window that is perfectly sealed and allows no air-flow. More often than not, home renovation companies utilize infrared technology while insulating to check for any gaps in the walls.

Replacing Lightbulbs

This is my last tip, but also just as important. This is a very minor, often overlooked thing that the majority of homeowners can incorporate TODAY. Replacing your old, outdated incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), can truly pay off over the years. While it may cost you some out of pocket money initially to purchase the lightbulbs, they will pay for themselves as the time goes by. It is also important to change out your most used light bulbs first, as they will be the ones sucking up the most energy.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s important to take steps, whether during a new home construction or an upgrade to an existing one, to take into account your energy-efficiency and cost-effective measures that are available to you. Whether you decide to have an official energy inspector come out and help you plan and strategize, or just research online and do it all yourself, get out there and get it done!