Heating And Cooling

February 4, 2013
Heating And Cooling

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically, 61% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. What’s more, heating and cooling systems in the United States together emit over a half billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, adding to global warming. They also generate about 24% of the nation’s sulfur dioxide and 12% of the nitrogen oxides, the chief ingredients in acid rain.

 

No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase your comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. But remember, an energy-efficient furnace alone will not have as great an impact on your energy bills as using the whole-house approach. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy bills and your pollution output in half. A home inspection and thermal imaging inspection from Selman Home Inspectioncan help identify areas of energy loss.

 

Heating and Cooling Tips

 

* Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.

 

* Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.

 

* Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting,or drapes.

 

* Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing; when replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.

 

* During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

 

* During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.

 

Long-Term Savings Tips

 

Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment. Your contractor should be able to give you energy fact sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you.

 

Ducts

One of the most important systems in your home, though it’s hidden beneath your feet and over your head, may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars.

 

Your home’s duct system, a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors,and ceilings, carries the air from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner to each room. Ducts aremade of sheet metal, fiberglass, or other materials. Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated properly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts that are in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost effective. If you are buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already installed. Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawl space. If the supply ducts are leaking, heated or cooled air can be forced out unsealed joints and lost.In addition, unconditioned air can be drawn into return ducts through unsealed joints.

 

In the summer, hot attic air can be drawn in, increasing the load on the air conditioner. In the winter, your furnace will have to work longer to keep your house comfortable. Either way, your energy losses cost you money. Minor duct repairs are easy to do, Here are a few simple tips to help with minor duct repairs.

 

Duct Tips

 

* Check your ducts for air leaks. First, look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.

 

* If you use tape to seal your ducts, avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive duct tape, which tends to fail quickly. Researchers recommend other products to seal ducts: mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat approved tapes. Look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories logo.

 

* Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both.

 

* Note: Water pipes and drains in unconditioned spaces could freeze and burst in the space if the heat ducts are fully insulated, because there would be no heat source to prevent the space from freezing in cold weather. However, using an electric heating tape wrap on the pipes can prevent this.

 

* If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.

 

* Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.

 

* For new construction, consider placing ducts in conditioned space – space that is heated and cooled-instead of runningducts through unconditioned areas like the crawlspace or attic, which is less efficient.

 

Fireplaces

 

When you cozy up next to a crackling fire on a cold winter day, you probably don’t realize that your fireplace is one of the most inefficient heat sources you can possibly use.It literally sends your energy dollars right up the chimney along with volumes of warm air. A roaring fire can exhaust as much as 24,000 cubic feet of air per hour to the outside, which must be replaced by cold air coming into the house from the outside. Your heating system must warm up this air, which is then exhausted through your chimney. If you use your conventional fireplace while your central heating system is on, these tips can help reduce energy losses.

 

Fireplace Tips

 

* If you never use your fireplace,plug and seal the chimney flue.

 

* Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is going. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.

 

* When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly- approximately 1 inch-and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.

 

* Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.

 

* Check the seal on the flue damper and make it as snug as possible.

 

* Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.

 

* Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.

 

Natural Gas and Oil Heating Systems

 

If you plan to buy a new heating system, ask your local utility or state energy office for information about the latest technologies available to consumers. They can advise you about more efficient systems on the market today. For example, many newer models incorporate designs for burners and heat exchangers that result in higher efficiencies during operation and reduce heatloss when the equipment is off. Consider a sealed combustion furnace; they are both safer and more efficient.

 

Long-Term Savings Tip

 

Install a new energy-efficient furnace to save money over the long term. Look for the ENERGY STAR and Energy Guide labels.

 

Programmable Thermostats

 

You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmablethermostat.

 

Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times youturn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, the equipment doesn’t operate as much when you are asleep or when the house or part of the house is not occupied.

 

Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.

Landscaping

 

Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to keep your home cool in summer and reduce your energy bills. In addition to adding aesthetic value and environmental quality to your home, a well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce overall energy bills.

Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a typical household’s energy used for heating and cooling. Computer models from DOE predict that just three trees, properly placed around the house, can save an average household between $100 and $250 in heating and cooling energy costs annually.

Studies conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found summer daytime air temperatures to be 3° to 6°F cooler in tree shaded neighborhoods than in treeless areas.

The energy-conserving landscape strategies you should use for your home depend on the type of climate in which you live.

Refer Your Friends & Clients

We take pride in our work asHome Inspection Pros and strive to deliver the highest standards in quality, integrity, and value. We are dedicated to your real estate transaction and back every report with a more value and support than other Home Inspection Company. Here are a few of the benefits of referringSelman Home Inspections to your clients!

“Accurate Investment Protection You Can Trust”

FHA/HUD # F537
Septic #113423
Termite Tech # 660910
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Saving Energy Using Insulation & By Sealing Air Leaks

February 4, 2013
Saving Energy Using Insulation & By Sealing Air Leaks

Checking your home’s insulation is one of the fastest and most cost efficient ways to use a whole house approach to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars. A good insulating system includes acombination of products and construction techniques that protect a home from outside temperatures-hot and cold, protect it against air leaks, and control moisture. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling needs by up to

30% by investing just a few hundred dollars in proper insulation and sealing air leaks.

First, check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area. Insulation is measured in

R-values-the higher the R-value, the better your walls and roof will resist the transfer of heat. DOE recommends ranges of R-values based on local heating and cooling costs and climate conditions in different areas of the nation. State and local codes in some parts of the country may require lower R-values than the DOE recommendations.

Where to Insulate

 

Adding insulation in the areas shown below may be the best way to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Crawl space Basement Attic

Walls

Floors

For customized insulation recommendations, visit energysavers.gov and check out the Zip Code Insulation Calculator, which lists the most economic insulation levels for your new or existing home based on your zip code and other basic information about your home.

Although insulation can be made from a variety of materials, it usually comes in four types; each type has different characteristics.

Rolls / Batts or blanketsare flexibleproducts made from mineral fibers, such as fiberglass and rockwool. They are available in widths suited to standard spacing of wall studs and attic or floor joists.

2×4 walls can hold R-13 or R-15 batts; 2×6 walls can have R-19 or R-21 products.

 

Loose-fill insulation is usually made of fiberglass, rock wool, or cellulose comes in shreds, granules,or nodules. These small particles should be blown into spaces using special pneumatic equipment. The blown-in material conforms readily to buildingcavities and attics. Therefore, loose-fill insulation is well suited for places where it is difficult to install other types of insulation.

 

Rigid foam insulation is typically more expensive than fiber insulation. But it’s very effective in buildings with space limitations and where higher R-values are needed. Foam insulation R-values range from R-4 to R-6.5 per inch of thickness (2.54 cm), which is up to 2 times greater than most other insulating materials of the same thickness.

 

Foam-in-place insulation-can be blown into walls and reduces air leakage.

 

Insulation Tips

 

* Consider factors such as your climate, building design, and budget when selecting insulation R-values for your home.

 

* Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and on exterior walls.

 

* Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Attic vents can be installed along the entire ceiling cavity to help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic to make a home more comfortable and energy efficient.

 

* Recessed light fixtures can be a major source of heat loss, but you need to be careful how close you place insulation next to a fixture unless it is marked IC-designed for direct insulation contact.

 

Should I Insulate My Home?

 

The answer is probably “yes”if you:

* Havean older home and haven’t added insulation. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.

 

* Are uncomfortably cold in the winter or hot in the summer – adding insulation creates amore uniform temperature and increases comfort.

 

* Build a new home, addition, or install new siding or roofing.

 

* Are paying high energy bills.

 

* Are bothered by noise from outside-insulation muffles sound.

 

Long-Term Savings Tip

 

One of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more comfortable year-round is to add insulation to your attic. Adding insulation to the attic is relatively easy and very cost effective.

 

To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If it is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose), you could probably benefit by adding more. Most U.S. homes should have between R-22 and R-49 insulation in the attic.

 

If your attic has enough insulation and your home still feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, chances are you need to add insulation to the exterior walls as well. This is a more expensive measure that usually requires a contractor, but it may be worth the cost if you live in a very hot or cold climate.

 

You may also need to add insulation to your crawl space. Either the walls of the crawl space or the floor above the crawl space should be insulated.

 

How Much Insulation Does My Home Need?

 

For insulation recommendations tailored to your home, visit the DOE website at: http://www.energysavers.gov for the Zip Code Insulation Calculator

 

New Construction

 

For new construction or home additions, R-11 to R-28 insulation is recommended for exterior walls depending on location. To meet this recommendation, most homes and additions constructed with 2 in. x 4 in. walls require a combination of wall cavity insulation, such as batts and insulating sheathing or rigid foam boards. If you live in an area with an insulation recommendation that is greater than R-20, you may want to consider building with 2 in.x 6 in. framing instead of 2 in. x 4 in. framing to allow room for thicker wall cavity insulation-R-19 to R-21.

 

Today, new products are on the market that provide both insulation and structural support and shouldbe considered for new home construction or additions. Structural insulated panels, known as SIPS, and masonry products like insulating concreteforms are among these. Some homebuilders are even using an old technique borrowed from the pioneers, building walls using straw bales. Check online at www.energysavers.gov for more information on structural insulation. Radiant barriers (in hot climates), reflective insulation, and foundation insulation should all be considered for new home construction.

 

SealingAirLeaks

 

Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a lot of your energy dollars. One of the quickest dollar-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weather-strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home.

 

Tips for Finding And Sealing Air Leaks

 

First, test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to your windows,doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weather-stripping.

 

Sources of AirLeaks in Your Home

 

Areas that leak air into and out of your home cost you lots of money:

 

Dropped ceiling

Water heater and furnace flues

Window frames Recessedlight All ducts

Electrical outlets and switches

Attic entrance

Doorframes

Plumbing and utility access

Sill plates

Chimney flashing

Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks

 

* Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows that leak air.

* Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls,floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.

* Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.

* Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic.

* Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace them with double pane windows.

* When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes-24 hours a day!

* For new construction, reduce exterior wall leaks by either installing house wrap, taping the joints of exterior sheathing, or comprehensively caulking and sealing the exterior walls.

How and Where Does the Air Escape? 

 

*Plumbing penetrations 13%

*Windows 10%

*Floors, walls, and ceiling 31%

*Fireplace 14%

*Fans and vents 4%

*Doors 11%

*Ducts 15%

*Electric outlets 2%

Air infiltrates into and out of your home through every hole, nook, and cranny. About one-third of this air infiltrates through openings in your ceilings, walls, and floors.

A home inspection and thermal imaging inspection from Selman Home Inspection can help you identify areas of energy loss as well as moisture leaks and other areas of energy loss.

 

Refer Your Friends & Clients

We take pride in our work asHome Inspection Pros and strive to deliver the highest standards in quality, integrity, and value. We are dedicated to your real estate transaction and back every report with a more value and support than other Home Inspection Company. Here are a few of the benefits of referringSelman Home Inspections to your clients!

“Accurate Investment Protection You Can Trust”

FHA/HUD # F537
Septic #113423
Termite Tech # 660910

Your Home’s Energy Use

February 4, 2013
Your Home’s Energy Use

The first step to taking a whole house energy efficiency approach is to find out which parts of your house use the most energy. A home energy audit will pinpoint those areas and suggest the most effective measures for cutting your energy costs. You can conduct a simple home energy audit yourself, you can contact your local utility, or you can call an independent energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination. For more information about home energy audits, including free tools and calculators, visit www.energysavers.gov. If you are buying a new home, be sure to ask for a thermal imaging inspectionalong with your Selman Home Inspection.

 

Energy Auditing Tips

 

Check the insulation levels in your attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces. Visit http://www.energysavers.gov for instructions on checking your insulation levels.

 

Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home.

 

Check for open fireplace dampers.

 

Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained. Check your owner’s manuals for the recommended maintenance.

 

Study your family’s lighting needs and use patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas such as the living room, kitchen, and outside lighting. Look for ways to use lightingcontrols-like occupancy sensors, dimmers, or timers-to reduce lighting energy use, and replace standard (also called incandescent) light bulbs and fixtures with compact or standard fluorescent lamps.

 

Formulating Your Plan

 

After you have identified where your home is losing energy, assign priorities by asking yourself a few important questions:

 

* How much money do you spend on energy?

 

* Where are your greatest energy losses?

 

* How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy cost savings?

 

* Do the energy saving measures provide additional benefits that are important to you (for example, increased comfort from installing double-pane, efficient windows)?

 

* How long do you plan to own your current home?

 

* Can you do the job yourself or will you need to hire a contractor?

 

* What is your budget and how much time do you have to spend on maintenance and repair?

 

How We Use Energy in Our Homes

 

Heating accounts for the biggest chunk of a typical utility bill.

Once you assign priorities to your energy needs, you can form a whole house efficiency plan. Your plan will provide you with a strategy for making smart purchases and home improvements that maximize energy efficiency and save the most money.

 

Another option is to get the advice of a professional home inspector. Many utilities conduct energy audits for free or for a small charge. For a fee, a professional contractor will analyze how well your home’s energy systems work together and compare the analysis to your utility bills.

 

He or she will use a variety of equipment such as blower doors,infrared cameras, and surface thermometers to find leaks and drafts. After gathering information about your home, the contractor or auditor will give you a list of recommendations for cost effective energy improvements and enhanced comfort and safety. A good contractor will also calculate the return on your investment in high efficiency equipment compared with standard equipment.

 

Tips for Finding a Contractor

 

* Ask neighbors and friends for recommendations

* Selman Home Inspection Preferred Contractors

* Focus on local companies

* Look for licensed, insured contractors

* Get three bids with details in writing

* Ask about previous experience

* Check references

Selman Home Inspection offers residential thermal imaging with our Home Inspections. Adding thermal imaging to your property evaluation provides a higher level of thoroughness you can’t get from other TX Home Inspectors. We are capable of inspecting a home to find hidden defects that can not be seen with the naked eyes. We find defects that other inspectors miss! An infrared thermal imaging home inspection can identify and document moisture intrusion, energy loss, and even unexpected hot spots.


Tips To Save Energy Today

January 8, 2013
Tips To Save Energy Today

 World energy consumption has risen 45% since 1980 and it is projected to be 70% higher by 2030!

 A simple and powerful idea: use conservation and natural resources more productively and efficiently… it’s both profitable and better for the environment. Over the next few weeks, each of the Selman Home Inspection newsletters will focus on energy saving tips. Here is the first of our six part series on saving energy;

 1.Set your thermostat comfortably low in the winter and comfortably high in the summer. Install a programmable thermostat that is compatible with your heating system and program it around your family’s schedule.

 2.Use compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout your home.

 3.Air dry or hand dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.

 4.Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.

 5.Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).

 6.Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 115° F. According to today’s Texas Standards of Practice, water temperatures over 120° F are considered a safety hazard.

 7.Take short showers instead of baths.

 8.Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

 9.Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

 Selman Home Inspection provides free “RecallChek” with every home inspection, FOR LIFE! During each home inspection, we gather the model numbers from the appliances and run them through the RecallChek system. Then a separate report is emailed to our valued client which identifies any possible recalls on those appliances. As our clients buy new appliances, they can enter these model numbers and check them on their own! This is just one of the many benefits of choosing a home inspection from Selman Home Inspections.


Selman Home Inspection is featured on Zi

December 27, 2012

Selman Home Inspection is featured on Zillow.com! Referred by more agents than other home inspection companies. Learn Why http://ow.ly/gmLZQ


Selman Home Inspection and BugStop have

December 26, 2012

Selman Home Inspection and BugStop have teamed up to provide the finest in home inspection and pest control services! http://ow.ly/gmLCr


http://mytxhomeinspector.com/ for your s

December 15, 2012

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