7 Projects To Help Your Home Weather The Winter

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If chilly temperatures make you want to snuggle under a blanket in front of a roaring fire, just think about your poor water pipes that can’t escape the cold. You can’t wrap your home in a warm, protective blanket when winter arrives, but a few winterization steps can help ensure your home weathers the winter safely and efficiently.

“Winterizing is definitely an important way to protect a home from the ravages of snow, ice, and harsh temperatures, but it’s also an opportunity to boost a home’s energy efficiency,” says Chris Williams, merchandising director at Lowe’s. “Some of the easiest and most effective winterization projects can also contribute to energy savings throughout the year.”

Here are Seven Projects to Improve Energy Efficiency and Prepare your Home for Winter

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Roof Repair: Mind The Gaps, Banish The Squirrels

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Cold can aggravate a roof issue and quickly turn minor defects into costly repair bills; in fact, the latest “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling Magazine estimates the average roofing replacement costs over $20,000.

So, whether you’ve already noticed signs of wear on your roof or just want more “overhead” peace of mind, pay special attention to two seemingly small aspects of the roof that homeowners often overlook:

Gaps: Seal It, Patch It:

Be sure to check for any gaps around gutters, skylights and roofing vents then utilize the correct caulking, patching, and sealants. Sealing these areas can keep out moisture and reduce heating costs – and many sealants are specially designed to adhere directly to exterior surfaces. Even the tiniest cracks and gaps can allow moisture to enter, not to mention rodents, squirrels, and other unwelcome varmints.

Pipes: Don’t Leave a Welcome Mat for Squirrels:

Roof venting pipes are another area to closely inspect. One of the more common roof problems involves cracked rooftop venting pipes made with cheap lead tops as they corrode over time. To make matters worse, squirrels and other critters are known to relentlessly chew their way into a home via these thin pipe flashings as the lead entices these unwelcome varmints to gnaw at them, thus providing interior access for damaging rain, snow and more pests once whittled away.

“Squirrel infestation is a very big problem throughout many areas of the United States, especially older homes,” explains Amanda Williams, marketing manager at Quarrix. “This is exactly why we developed a durable, lead-free and easy-to-install vent pipe flashing called Pipe Boot that simply slides over the existing vent, nails into place, and then twists securely to form a weather-tight seal.” With Pipe Boot, no specialty installation tools are needed as the telescoping sleeve allows for varying pipe sizes and can withstand frigid winter temperatures via a patented design.

Enlist the Pros Quickly When There’s Trouble:

Waiting too long to call in a certified professional can lead to bigger issues. For example, squirrels quickly reproduce and can potentially gnaw on electrical wiring or crawl into difficult-to-reach wall spaces, making extraction a nightmare. It’s a wise move to seek out a reputable roofing specialist, especially when dealing with roof damage from weather or critters, or both.

The roof is no place to cut corners, and no matter the season, even seemingly minor roofing issues can put your home and valuables at risk. For a thorough seasonal roof maintenance checklist, visit: Quarrix.com/Checklist or call 800-438-2920. – (BPT)

Roof Repair Tips

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4 Things To Consider When Choosing Siding

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Selecting new siding is one of the most important curb appeal decisions homeowners face when building new or remodeling an existing home. With so many options — both classic and modern materials — there’s a lot to consider.

Many manufacturers are now combining traditional styles and materials with advanced technologies, delivering a product homeowners can love for years to come. Among all the options on the market, vinyl siding — with its various styles, textures, and colors — remains the most-used product. In fact, 2016 marked 22 straight years that vinyl siding held the top spot in cladding for new single-family houses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual home report. This material has come a long way since it was introduced in the 1950s, with manufacturers such as Ply Gem Building Products making strides in research and development efforts for design and performance.

Whether you are building a new home or remodeling, there are four key considerations every homeowner should account for when determining which siding option will best meet his or her needs: durability, design, maintenance, and affordability.

Durability:

Siding selection is typically a once-in-a-lifetime decision, making durability a key factor for many. Homeowners should look for a siding option that is resistant to every element, including rain, wind and even the sun. Manufacturers now offer siding products with technologies that resist the damaging impact of the sun, preserving color for the lifetime of the home. Options, like Ply Gem’s Mastic Vinyl Siding SolarDefense Reflective Technology, expand exterior home design with darker, on-trend colors that can make your home the envy of the neighborhood.

Design & color:

Today, the most overwhelming decision for many when considering siding options can be style and color — but it doesn’t need to be. There are several primary siding material options available to homeowners — vinyl, aluminum, steel, wood, brick, fiber cement, stucco and stone — and countless color and style options within each material type. To help you determine what might look best, seek the advice of a siding specialist like a contractor, builder or architect for help. They can educate you on color coordination and what would go well with the neighborhood, while still giving personalized options for your home. Also, check out online resources like Ply Gem’s home exterior visualizer to experiment with different options and customize your style.

“In recent years, homeowners have been getting more creative and choosing bolder colorful options for their exterior,” said Pat Verlodt, president of Color Services & Associates, an organization that identifies color trends and educates consumers and manufacturers about those trends. “Whether you’re looking for a certain period-specific color scheme to align with historical significance, for a new palette to freshen up your curb appeal, or for a specific panel texture, such as cedar shake or wood clapboard, my recommendation is to look at vinyl. It provides the homeowner the freedom to add low-maintenance color and definition that will never go out of style or need painting or refinishing.”

In fact, more than 400 vinyl siding colors have been certified for color retention, according to the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI). The variety offers homeowners a virtually endless palette of fade-resistant colors, from pastels to deep hues, combined with trim, accents, and accessories. Look to manufacturers like Ply Gem that offer complementary solutions for the entire exterior.

Maintenance:

Beyond style and color, homeowners are also seeking siding that is low maintenance, which reduces or eliminates the cost and personal time expended for proper upkeep. Each siding material type has a different level of care and maintenance required. Vinyl typically requires just soap and water for periodic cleaning, and no need to paint, stain or caulk, which means little maintenance over the long term. Wood and fiber cement can require repainting every five to seven years. Stucco will need to be repainted and sealed. Brick and stone require repointing of mortar. The earlier point about durability plays a part here too, ensuring that the option you select is free from potential time-consuming and costly repairs due to storm damage such as wind and moisture.

Affordability:

Lastly, establish a financial plan and budget. By doing this homework up front, you can have a more informed consultation with potential contractors and better ensure that estimates are aligned with your budget. Don’t forget that sometimes investing a little more into the project up front may reduce issues and maintenance costs down the road.

As you look to select new exterior siding, be sure to keep in mind these important factors — durability, design, maintenance, and affordability — to make the best choice possible for your home and lifestyle. To get started on siding your house, look to manufacturer websites such as plygem.com for siding choices, as well as home visualizer and color selection tools that help homeowners experiment with different colors and textures before making a decision. – (BPT)

Vinyl Siding Colors And Styles – 2017 Vinyl Siding Colors Ideas

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How To Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment

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Owning your own home comes with many advantages, including escaping rising rents and the personal and financial stability associated with homeownership. Fortunately, millions of Americans, with less than 20 percent down, have been able to buy a home sooner thanks to mortgage insurance (MI). If you don’t put down 20 percent of the mortgage cost, you will likely be required to purchase MI, which enables low-down-payment borrowers to qualify for home financing from lenders.

While homeownership has many benefits and continues to be part of the American Dream, it is not without costs. Several surveys have found that the majority of first-time homebuyers — over 80 percent according to one study — put less than 20 percent down. For these borrowers, there is usually the added expense of MI, which may give some of these borrowers pause.

But there is good news: the monthly private mortgage insurance premiums do not last forever on most conventional loans. And when private MI (PMI) cancels, homeowners will have more cash in their pockets each month — money that is available for home improvements or other goals. It is important to understand, however, that not all MI is the same, and not all MI can be canceled.

There are numerous low-down-payment mortgage options available that include MI. The two most common are: (1) home loans backed 100 percent by the government through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that include both an upfront and annual mortgage insurance premium (MIP); and (2) conventional loans, which are typically backed at least in part by private sources of capital, such as private MI. The key difference is that one form can be canceled (PMI) while the other (FHA) typically cannot be canceled.

FHA Loan:

An FHA loan can be obtained with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent. However, be aware that you will typically have to pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) of 1.75 percent of the total loan amount at closing or have it financed into the mortgage. In addition to your regular monthly mortgage payments on your FHA loan, you will also pay a fixed monthly MIP fee for the life of the loan. This means you could pay hundreds of dollars extra every month — thousands over the life of the loan — until you pay off the entirety of the loan.

Conventional Loan:

If you obtain a conventional loan with PMI, you can put as little as 3 percent down. Like an FHA loan, PMI fees are generally factored into your monthly mortgage payment. However, PMI can often be canceled once you have established 20 percent equity in the home and/or the principal balance of the mortgage is scheduled to reach 78 percent of the home’s original value. This means that the rest of your mortgage payments will not include any extra fees, so that your payments go down in time, saving you money each month. What you save in the long run can then be put toward expenses like home renovations, which can further increase your home’s value.

MI is a good thing because it bridges the divide between a low down payment and mortgage approval. But not all MI is created equal. If you want to buy a home but still save in the long run, PMI might be the right option for you. Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.org to learn more. – (BPT)

Get 22.5% Off Your Mortgage | BeatTheBush

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Big, Smart Ideas For Renovating Smaller Homes

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While newly constructed homes are bigger than ever, most Americans still live in modestly sized or even small houses — and many of these owners are choosing to remodel rather than move into a bigger home.

More than half of all American houses were built before 1980, according to the National Association of Home Builders. At that time, the average new home size was slightly more than 1,700 square feet, U.S. Census Bureau data shows. Meanwhile, interest in remodeling is at an all-time high, according to Metrostudy.

Homeowners looking to renovate their average-sized homes in order to get more living space don’t have to build costly additions. Many modern remodeling tactics, tricks, and tools are made to work well in smaller homes. Here are ways to get the most out of your home renovation:

Space-Saving Plumbing Options:

Plumbing can be problematic in any renovation, but adding plumbing in certain smaller-house locations can be especially challenging. Traditional plumbing may require you to open walls and floors to connect to existing drainage lines or break through concrete to add toilets, showers, and sinks when finishing a basement.

Above-floor plumbing can solve a number of small-space challenges. For example, you may decide to add a powder room in the unused space beneath a stairway. However, if the space is very small, a standard toilet with water tank and traditionally plumbed sink might not fit. In such a situation, a compact, one-piece macerating toilet like the Sanicompact from Saniflo installs quickly, easily and conveniently in tight spots.

Traditional plumbing can also be a challenge in renovations where you’re adding plumbing below the main level, such as installing a bathroom with a shower or even a second kitchen in a basement setting. In southern states, where most homes are built on slabs rather than with basements, adding any kind of traditional plumbing would require you to break open the concrete in order to add pipes — an expensive and risky undertaking.

However, a Sanistar one-piece, wall-mounted toilet with built-in macerator allows you to add a basement bathroom without cutting concrete. For adding sinks or showers, gray water pumps such as the Saniswift can be as compact as a small wastebasket and can carry water away from new bathrooms or kitchens where no traditional plumbing exists.

Right-Sizing Utilities:

If you’re adding a bathroom or kitchen in your average-sized, average-age home, it may also be a good idea to replace the water heater — especially if it’s 10 or more years old. An older water heater may fail or worse, leak, causing damage to nearby floors and walls.

Modern tank water heaters are more energy efficient, but also larger as a result of the insulation needed to achieve greater efficiency. If you’re replacing a water heater in an attic that’s accessed through pull-down stairs or in a crawl space or adding one in a closet or out-of-the-way corner, a traditional tank water heater might not fit.

Tankless water heaters require less room, solving space problems. Plus, they’re more energy efficient because they heat the water only when you need it, rather than using fuel to maintain the temperature in a large tank.

Natural Light Without Sacrifice:

If your home is older, it may have fewer or smaller windows than newly constructed homes. However, if you crave more natural light, you don’t have to sacrifice wall space to windows or incur the expense of opening a wall.

Skylights and tube skylights can bring more natural light into a home. Modern skylights are energy efficient and far less prone to leaks than older models. A standard skylight can easily be installed in rooms with direct roof access, and tube skylights can even bring natural light to ground-floor spaces. Plus, skylights allow you to preserve privacy in settings where it matters most, such as bathrooms.

Looking Up:

Older homes may have less floor space, but many older homes also have higher ceilings. Or, your smaller home may have a two-story family room or entryway. Using the extra height in your home to create storage space can allow you to free up floor space. For example, floor-to-ceiling shelves in a family room or entryway provide ample storage space.

Tall ceilings can also be an opportunity to add task lighting in work areas such as over kitchen islands or to create design statements through the addition of exposed faux beams.

Smart renovations can help make your home feel bigger and function better for your family, no matter how big or small the size. – (BPT)

Transforming a Small Apartment Without Breaking the Bank

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House Hunting and Credit : What You Need To Know

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By now it is something of a cliche to call homeownership the American dream. But even if sitting on your own deck, looking over your picket fence and sipping lemonade doesn’t move you, homeownership is still one of the best ways to build wealth.

For many, owning a home is cheaper than renting and, in the long run, the biggest investment they will ever make. It is also a practical financial move thanks to the fact that you’re likely building equity while getting a mortgage interest tax break.

So although it is perfectly fine to dream about backyard barbecues and the smell of fresh-cut grass, the path to owning your own home should also involve taking the time to do some financial sightseeing.

As a leader in creating credit scoring models, VantageScore Solutions has made it a priority to educate consumers on the important role a good credit history plays in buying a home. Whether you’re about to set out to buy your first home or if you are getting ready to sell and buy another home, here are the basics of how credit impacts the home-buying process.

Basics:

If you are like most people, you will probably need to take out a loan. If you are able to pay cash for your home instead, count yourself among the lucky few! A huge part of taking out a loan involves your credit history and credit score. Basically, you must prove to lenders that you can be a responsible borrower and can be trusted with a mortgage of many thousands of dollars. A strong credit score may provide proof of this trustworthiness.

Different types of loans have different credit requirements. Some loans require you to have a credit score of at least 620, although it is possible (with some difficulty) to be approved for a loan with a credit score as low as 580. But getting loan approval is only part of the story.

Better Credit, Better Rate:

Home loans come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fixed interest mortgages, some have adjustable rates or longer terms and the list of variables goes on. Just like anything else, some loans are better for you than others. To get the loan that has the lowest interest rate, which right now is around 4 percent, usually, requires a higher credit score. Rates can be considerably higher when you have a lower credit score, and the result is paying significantly more monthly over the life of the loan.

The reason is that a higher credit score demonstrates that you are skilled at managing debt and have a history of responsibly paying back many types of loans. Therefore, the lender is taking on less risk when lending you money. The less risk for them, the better the interest rate for you.

While there are, of course, more nuances to the process, your credit score plays an instrumental role in determining the type of loan you may qualify for. Therefore, before you go to your first open house, check your credit score to better understand the factors that typically impact your scores. Many websites provide free access to your VantageScore, which is a perfectly fine barometer to use to directionally gauge your creditworthiness. Mortgage lenders use FICO scores in their underwriting.

You can stay on top of things by subscribing to the monthly credit scoring newsletter, The Score. In The Score, you can find information on VantageScore 4.0, the fourth-generation scoring model that will be available to consumers in early 2018.

Knowing your credit history and understanding the factors that could impact your credit score will help you plan, budget and come up with a realistic wish list for your house. – (BPT)

How Credit Score Impact The Home Buying Experience

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10 DIY Home Improvement Projects For Beginners

 welding - home inspection miamiBrought to you by Atlantic Building Inspections

You don’t have to be a pro to tackle many home improvement projects. With a little elbow grease and a few smart tools, DIY novices can easily complete all kinds of household tasks efficiently and correctly.

Here are 10 common DIY projects for beginners that any homeowner (or apartment dweller) can learn to do. Not only will your house look great, but you’ll feel a great sense of pride too.

1. Install A Kitchen Backsplash: You don’t need to learn how to cut and install tile. Instead, add a stylish backsplash by using inexpensive alternative materials such as tin ceiling tiles, wooden beadboard or wallpaper.

2. Loosen Rusty Bolts: For stubborn nuts and bolts, reach for a Bernzomatic TS3500 Multi-Use Torch. This easy-to-use tool empowers all levels of DIYers and can be used for dozens of tasks. For this one, simply heat up the bolt to loosen the rust, then turn with a wrench to remove. Discover more torch project ideas at Bernzomatic.com.

3. Conceal Wall Blemishes: From nail holes to furniture bumps, repair wall blemishes by using a putty knife to spread a resurfacing compound. For larger dings, you can use an adhesive patch and add an all-purpose drywall compound with a trowel. Allow to dry, then sand and repaint.

4. Give Furniture A Vintage Look: The rustic look is “in,” but rather than splurge on trendy furniture, get the same look for less money and have fun creating it yourself. Add an aged look to wooden types of furniture such as patio sets or console tables, or decor items like picture frames using a torched patina effect. The Bernzomatic TS3500 Multi-Use Torch provides ultimate control for steady strokes back and forth on raw wood to bring out the natural wood grain without having to apply a stain. It only takes seconds.

5. Create A Perfect Patio: If you want a new patio, but don’t want to deal with mortar, consider flagstone. These flat stones fit together like puzzle pieces so you can create a small patio, meditation garden or reading nook virtually anywhere in your yard.

6. Repair Equipment: Need to repair the grips on your bike, tennis racket or hockey sticks? When you want to regrip them, take off the old grip and use a torch to soften the adhesive to make it easier to remove the old grip. Simply add new grips around the now adhesive-free surfaces.

7. Eliminate Picture-Hanging Snafus: When hanging small pictures, put masking tape on the wall before hammering or drilling. This will help ensure the wall or paint doesn’t crack. Additionally, place a folded sticky note on the wall before drilling and it will catch all the dust.

8. Spruce Up Landscaping Beds: If your landscaping is looking drab, mulch is an affordable way to limit weeds and protect plants while making the space more visually appealing. Use cut-outs of landscaping fabric to line the beds before spreading mulch evenly on top. Quick trick: use a torch to singe the ends of the fabric to keep it from fraying.

9. Replace Outlet Plates: Faded or dated outlet plates can make an entire room look old. Update your space by installing new covers. For little cost, you can buy new plates and all you have to do is use a Phillips or flat-head screwdriver to swap out the old for new.

10. Evoke Elegance With Crown Molding: High-end homes often feature crown molding where the wall meets the ceiling. To get the look for less, purchase foam crown molding from your local home improvement store, paint and install with foam-board adhesive. No nails required! – (BPT)

Home Improvement Ideas

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4 Laundry Personalities: Where Do You Fit?

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Chic, trendy, sporty, bohemian, sophisticated, fun, classic — you probably have a clear vision of your fashion and style personality. But do you know your laundry personality? How you wash the clothes you wear is every bit as personal and unique to you as the clothes themselves. Knowing your laundry personality could help ease the load and make the chore easy and fail-proof.

A quarter of American households say they overload their washer most of the time, according to a survey commissioned by LG Electronics. Even people who say they are doing their laundry efficiently still have complaints with the process. In fact, more than three-fourths believe washers can be improved.

Recognizing your laundry personality and choosing products that cater to your unique style will make doing laundry an easy, and perhaps even enjoyable, affair! Here are the four common laundry personalities, their identifying traits, and tips for achieving maximum efficiency:

The Light Loader:

Does your desire to separate and preserve clothes, including those delicate special care items, ever leave you with the only option of running the washer with just one or two items? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey commissioned by LG Electronics, 60 percent of Americans admitted to running a full load of laundry for six items or less.

The LG TWINWash system will put an end to that, letting consumers tackle two loads of laundry at once, or independently. The industry-first two-in-one washing machine includes a front-load washer ergonomically placed on the top for larger loads, and a smaller washer, the LG Sidekick, which sits on the pedestal for those small specialty loads. The LG SideKick provides an additional 1-foot capacity and has six cycles to choose from: normal, intimates, hand wash, activewear, rinse + spin and tub clean, allowing consumers to wash those smaller loads, saving time and energy.

 The Super Sorter:

Does the thought of washing dark jeans and a pink blouse in the same load leave you light-headed? You and 20 percent of Americans prefer to avoid mixing items of different colors in the same load. Some of those surveyed also don’t trust washing items like delicates (52 percent), jackets (49 percent) and blouses (30 percent) in the main wash.

Facilitate your separation efforts by using multiple baskets or hampers in your laundry room. Label them — darks, whites, delicates, workout, etc. — and encourage family members to drop their dirty clothes in the appropriate basket. For items not trusted for the main wash, the LG SideKick, part of the TWINWash system, can help tackle smaller loads, ensuring they’re properly washed by one of the six cycles.

The Dumper:

Do you do minimal separation? You’re joined by a majority of Americans that load up their washer. A recent survey concluded that 80 percent of Americans have purposely overloaded their washer to avoid doing the second load of laundry. Plus, 22 percent of Americans have deemed clothes not properly cleaned because of an overloaded washer. High-efficiency front-load washing machines alleviate both of these problems. Unlike traditional top-load washing machines with agitators, front-load washers offer greater capacity while using much less water, which actually cleans clothes better! It’s a myth that more water equals cleaner clothes. Plus, they have faster spin speeds than their top-load counterparts, which means your clothes come out the dryer, saving you time and energy when drying your clothes.

Use color-safe detergent and cold water for every load of colors. With today’s super-efficient detergents and better washing machines, you don’t need hot or even warm water to get clothes clean; cold will work just fine and will reduce the chance of colors fading or bleeding into each other.

The Habitual Dry Cleaner:

Summer is a busy — and sticky — time, running from work to outdoor barbecues during the hottest months of the year. And refreshing that summer wardrobe between pool parties is key to the habitual dry cleaner looking and feeling their best. That’s where the LG Styler comes in. The LG Styler is a fashion-forward, one-of-a-kind clothing management system that can refresh and sanitize clothing in as little as 20 minutes. Just get back from an outdoor cocktail party? Simply place your favorite dresses, shirts or suits inside and let LG’s TrueSteam technology work its magic to reduce wrinkles and odors from things like sweat or smoke, without any harsh chemicals. While it doesn’t replace dry cleaning, it can certainly help reduce trips to the cleaners while keeping your clothes crisp and ready to go before your next brunch date or happy hour.

Whatever your laundry personality, you can find a washer, dryer, and detergent that will make your chore easier and less time-consuming. Then, you can spend that time on other things. In fact, Americans surveyed say if they could cut their laundry time in half, they’d spend that extra time hanging out with their kids, watching TV or doing other things they enjoy.

17 Laundry Hacks Everyone Should Know

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HVAC Energy-Efficiency Terms

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Whether you’re looking to lower heating and cooling costs, or have a passion for protecting the environment, maximizing the energy efficiency of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is a smart move. The more energy efficient your system, the less you’ll spend running it every year, and the smaller your home’s environmental footprint will be.

Efficiency ratings are intended to help you decide which products are best for your home, so it’s important to understand what all the related terms mean. HVAC systems manufacturer Luxaire, which has received ENERGY STAR’s highest rating for two components, offers some guidance on interpreting energy-efficiency ratings and terms.

ENERGY STAR:

Launched in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the ENERGY STAR program is a voluntary labeling system designed to help consumers identify energy-efficient products. ENERGY STAR rates products in more than 70 categories. Over the past 20 years, ENERGY STAR-rated products have helped consumers save $362 billion on energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons.

“Products that earn the ENERGY STAR rating are proven to operate using less energy. For example, in order to earn the highest rating, the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient designation, Luxaire’s Acclimate AC8B Split System Air Conditioner and Echelon HC8B Split System Heat Pump demonstrated performance levels of up to 20 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and 12.5 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling and heating performance, and 10 Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) for heat pumps,” says Ken Ely, product manager, Luxaire heating and cooling.

ENERGY GUIDE LABEL:

Federal regulations require heating and cooling equipment to carry an EnergyGuide label that provides an estimate of how much energy the equipment will use. The label also compares the unit’s energy use to that of similar products and gives an estimate of how much it will cost to operate the equipment in a year.

In addition to energy efficiency labeling, it’s important to know some measurement terms. Generally, for all these terms, a higher number equates to better efficiency.

SEER:

SEER measures the energy efficiency of air conditioning systems and heat pumps. The ratio measures the amount of cooling provided by an air conditioner in comparison to the amount of energy the system uses — measured in watts per hour — over a hypothetical season. SEER can give you an idea of how energy efficient a unit will be under average conditions. However, a number of factors, such as how you use and maintain a unit, can influence energy efficiency, so it’s important to realize a unit might perform differently in your home.

EER:

EER is very similar to SEER, except instead of measuring efficiency over a season, EER tells you how efficient an air conditioning unit might be when operating at a typical temperature.

HSPF:

HSPF is meant to help you understand a heat pump’s energy efficiency over a season. It’s typically referenced alongside SEER to give a better picture of a system’s probable energy efficiency. The HSPF formula uses BTUs (British Thermal Units, a measurement of heat) to estimate the useful heat output divided by the total electricity (in watts per hour) the heat pump uses during a heating season.

AFUE:

One more energy measurement to know is the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating. The AFUE measures average efficiency for furnaces, boilers and water heaters. Like SEER and EER, the measurement is for a theoretical heating season.

To learn more about energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, visit www.luxaire.com/greensavings and follow @LuxaireHVAC on Twitter. For more information on the ENERGY STAR program, visit www.energystar.gov. To learn about how to read the EnergyGuide label, visit www.energy.gov. – (BPT)

Tips To Reduce Electricity Consumption of an Air Conditioner

 

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Simple Steps To Create The Perfect Outdoor Oasis

get together in an outdoor space - home inspection miami Helpful Information from Atlantic Building Inspections

Summer is home to many of the year’s most beautiful days, so who can blame you for wanting to spend them all outside? Your yard becomes your living room and your patio the kitchen. It’s your home away from home, which begs the question — do you like your current digs?

If your home’s outdoor space lacks the comfort and appeals you are longing for, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time to transform your backyard into the perfect outdoor oasis you can enjoy all summer long.

To get started upgrading your backyard without breaking the bank — follow these tips from the experts at Lowe’s.

 A Place to Gather:

Think of the parties you’ve hosted in your home. They’ve likely all had a common gathering place such as the kitchen counter, the living room couch or the dining room table. Your outdoor space needs a similar location, and a dining set naturally invites guests to relax. Five-piece dining sets from Lowe’s are perfect for more intimate gatherings, while seven-piece sets comfortably accommodate larger crowds.

The Focal Point of your Kitchen:

Grilling out is a staple of any summer party, so if your existing grill isn’t hitting all cylinders, it’s time for an upgrade. The Master Forge 5-Burner Modular Gas Grill features four heavy-duty burners, one infrared searing burner, and one infrared rotisserie burner, giving you a solution for any menu choice. Plus, its built-in halogen lights can keep your party going long into the night.

A Place to Relax:

The sofas and armchairs in your living room are popular sitting destinations during an indoor event, and you can create the same environment outdoors with sectional patio furniture. The Garden Treasures Palm City Patio Sectional Furniture features sleek and sturdy black steel frames coupled with tan Olefin cushions that up to the comfort level, meaning when you sit, you’ll never want to leave.

A Little Shade Goes a Long Way:

An all-day party means plenty of suns, and when guests need a break from the heat, it’s good to provide an area of relief. Patio umbrellas are an affordable option, available in 8-1/2 and 9-foot varieties, providing ample coverage for a large gathering. And to keep the awning a hot destination into the evening, look for an umbrella outfitted with LED lights.

 The Perfect Accents:

The difference between a backyard and an outdoor oasis is in the details you add to your space. Island King Garden Torches bring light to any situation. With durable metal construction and a long-lasting fiberglass wick, these lights will keep their look in any conditions. To add a little extra green space to your outdoor entertaining area, consider purchasing raised garden beds. They provide a grand ambiance upgrade to your oasis at an affordable price.

Summer has just begun! Implement any of the upgrades listed above, and you’ll be able to enjoy the season’s most significant days from your brand-new oasis. To find everything you need to remake your backyard, without breaking your bank, visit lowes.com. – (BPT)

How To Build The Perfect Share Garden | Outdoor Ideas

 

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