8 Tips for Improving HVAC Efficiency

Heating and cooling is easily the most energy intensive system in your home. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, heating and cooling is to blame for almost half of all the energy expenditure in the average American household, beating even the growing energy consumption of appliances and electronics. Thus, by properly maintaining your HVAC system, you can improve its efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs dramatically. If you want to reap the savings of an efficient HVAC, here’s how.

8 Tips for Improving HVAC Efficiency

  1. Close Up Your Home
  2. Consider a Home Warranty
  3. Calibrate Your Thermostat
  4. Check Your Economizer
  5. Control Your VFD
  6. Cut out Your BAS
  7. Clean Your Coils
  8. Connect Timers

Here they are in more detail.

1. Close Up Your Home

If you have cold or hot air pouring into your home from outside, your HVAC unit needs to work harder than it should to keep your home the right temperature. Therefore, one of the most basic ways to improve HVAC efficiency is to seal and insulate your home. First, you should keep doors and windows closed whenever your HVAC is running; then, you should check that the insulation in your walls and attic (if you have one) is still doing its job. By doing this, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.

2. Consider a Home Warranty

If you’ve ever wondered how to compare home warranty vs. home insurance, now is your chance to learn. Home warranties guarantee the systems of your home, like your HVAC, against the ravages of time. If your HVAC breaks down for any reason, you can contact your home warranty provider, who will send an HVAC specialist to diagnose and fix the problem for a low, flat fee around $70. Though a home warranty won’t keep your HVAC in tip-top shape, it will secure you against total HVAC failure.

3. Calibrate Your Thermostat

You shouldn’t just trust that your thermostat knows what temperature it is in your home. It is easy for thermostats to be anywhere from a percent of a degree to five whole degrees off from the true temperature, and that seemingly small difference will cost you over time. To be certain your thermostat is reading true, you need to purchase a trustworthy thermometer and keep it on the wall a few inches from your thermostat. Then, using that tool, you can calibrate your thermostat appropriately.

4. Check Your Economizer

Economizers are machines attached to your HVAC to ensure high efficiency, but they don’t always work as expected. Often, economizers slip their links or contain faulty controls—or else someone in the past tinkered with them improperly. You should pay a visit to your HVAC economizer and give it a once-over; look specifically for open dampers (which should be kept closed) and any signs of quick fixes, like string or unfinished wood, that could indicate issues.

5. Control Your VFD

A variable frequency drive (VFD) controls the speed of the motor in your HVAC unit, providing energy savings proportional to the rotations per minute. However, like economizers, VFDs can malfunction and/or can be interfered with, causing efficiency-related problems. You should peer into your VFD and ensure that it isn’t running on bypass mode, so you can reap appropriate energy savings.

6. Cut out Your BAS

A building automation system (BAS) provides centralized control of HVAC as well as lighting and other systems. Such systems usually only exist in larger structures with more complex energy and control needs, but if your home is in an apartment or condo building, you might be subject to a BAS. You should either try to remove a BAS that is impeding the proper use of your HVAC or else contact your building manager to express concern over the BAS functionality.

7. Clean Your Coils

On the same day you clean your refrigerator coils, you should also clean your HVAC coils. Because HVAC units are typically placed in out-of-the-way areas that are rarely cleaned – like your roof, your basement, your attic or a corner of your yard – it doesn’t take long for them to accumulate dirt and grime. Debris on your HVAC coils forces the machine to work harder to produce the same effects, and it can reduce indoor air quality. Thus, you should schedule a coil cleaning at least once per year.

8. Connect Timers

There is no sense in heating or cooling an empty home. When you are away – at work or on vacation – you should consider setting a more lenient temperature on your thermostat, so it doesn’t need to work so hard for no benefit. You can also connect timer switches to your most energy-hungry devices, like gaming consoles, desktop computers and appliances, for a similar effect.

Over time, your HVAC will become less efficient—unless you do something about it. By participating in preventative maintenance, you can reduce your home energy costs and avoid the high expense of repairing or replacing your equipment. 

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead’s Top Tips on Flipping Amid a Pandemic—and Beyond

HGTV

Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead are expert house flippers and real estate pros, but even these two ran into hard times in 2020.

Last year, fans who tuned in to their hit series “Flip or Flop” or El Moussa’s solo show, “Flipping 101 With Tarek El Moussa,” heard plenty about how COVID-19 had thrown a wrench into their plans. Some renovations were delayed, while others abruptly changed course to accommodate new realities like working from home. The pandemic also put the pressure on to flip homes faster and with more safety precautions than ever.

It was a steep learning curve, but these house flippers learned a lot last year—and have tons to teach the rest of us on how to buy, sell, or renovate a house during a pandemic and beyond. Here we highlight some of their hard-won lessons and the pearls of wisdom within these stories for your own abode, too.

Have extra space? A guest suite is a great idea

guest room
This guest room is perfect for quarantining away from the rest of the household.

HGTV

COVID-19 curveball: In the “Flip or Flop” episode “Stiff Competition,” El Moussa and Anstead bought a house with an oddly large second living area. So what did they do with all that extra space?

Since the pandemic had placed a premium on “close yet separate” living quarters where families could quarantine apart from one another if necessary (say, if someone got sick), they converted this bonus space into a guest suite with a bedroom, living space, full bathroom, and even a separate entrance.

Take-home lesson: Guesthouses, in-law suites, and other living arrangements that allow some separate-but-togetherness for extended family and friends have always been a smart idea. However, the pandemic has further prioritized this feature, since it’s not just about giving people privacy; it’s also about keeping people safe in a pandemic. This upgrade is sure to remain a hot commodity well into 2021, so if you’ve got the space, consider this a great investment in your property.

A home office is a must, and doesn’t need its own room

office
This office space is a simple, casual place to work.

HGTV

COVID-19 curveball: In an episode of “Flipping 101” titled “Bad Energy BoHo,” El Moussa helped a couple renovate a house. Yet once COVID-19 hit midrenovation, they were forced to finish up in record time.

And with people suddenly working from home, El Moussa knew a home office was a must—yet with no time or space to build a separate room, they did the next best thing: They plunked down a desk in a far corner of the living room. It wasn’t as private as a dedicated workspace, but buyers were nonetheless drawn to this feature, proving that any office is better than none.

Take-home lesson: Not all households have room for a dedicated office, but don’t give up! A workspace can be carved out in some surprising places, from living rooms to garages and beyond.

For a fast upgrade, never underestimate the power of paint

living room
This painted fireplace looks just as good as tile.

HGTV

COVID-19 curveball: In the “Flip or Flop” episode “Busy Flip,” El Moussa and Anstead pondered how to upgrade a fireplace. While they typically loved covering this feature in bold, patterned tile, they also knew this upgrade would take a lot of time. Plus, since the pandemic had buyers flooding this suburban market, they’d have to flip fast to fetch a high offer.

That’s when El Moussa came up with a shortcut: They decided to simply paint the fireplace instead.

“This fireplace is actually in really good condition,” El Moussa told Anstead. “What if we just blasted the entire thing a bright white, see how it comes out?”

This solution not only saved time, but also $2,000 in tiling costs.

Take-home lesson: Sometimes it pays to take your sweet time renovating a house. But in a pandemic, if buyer demand is high, it may pay instead to just slap on a coat of paint and get your listing up, pronto!

While house flippers, owners, and sellers should never cut corners in terms of renovating safely, quick cosmetic shortcuts (like paint rather than intricate tilework) can save time and money and help you sell a house when the market is hot.

Fruit trees provide food and beauty in a backyard

backyard
Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead weren’t sure what to do with this yard.

HGTV

COVID-19 curveball: In the “Flip or Flop” episode “Better Be Quick,” Anstead and El Moussa wanted to give their latest flip a great quarantine yard. With so many people stuck at home, flashy outdoor amenities had become all the rage. They knew that a pool, outdoor kitchen, or fire pit could make the next owner’s quarantine seem a little easier.

Still, Anstead also saw value in something that wouldn’t take them any time to renovate at all: the yard’s orange and avocado trees.

“We have a full, really awesome avocado tree out there. This is actually a big selling feature,” Anstead pointed out.

In the end, El Moussa and Anstead decided to keep the trees. After a simple pruning, the backyard looked like the perfect oasis, even without a pool or other posh features.

backyard
Sometimes, a simple backyard is best.

HGTV

Take-home lesson: With so many people spending more time at home, backyards with pools and outdoor kitchens have become more popular than ever. But never forget that trees—particularly trees that bear fruit you can eat—have their own special allure for anyone who wants to grow their own food. (Victory garden, anyone?)

Building shade for outdoor seating is a worthy investment

backyard
This patio would look even better with a pergola.

HGTV

COVID-19 curveball: While green space was a must-have in 2020, outdoor sitting areas were also in high demand. And so, in the “Flip or Flop” episode “Back House Flip,” El Moussa and Anstead tried to create a comfy back patio, and pondered adding a pergola to create some shade.

While they worked hard to make the yard and patio look beautiful, they decided that adding a pergola was too expensive. This was a big mistake. Without a pergola, the patio was too hot under the California sun.

“The tile looks really nice,” Anstead said when she walked out to the backyard, but “it would definitely be nicer if I was in the shade right now.”

Take-home lesson: Whether it be a front porch or a bench on the back deck, homeowners like having somewhere to hang out and enjoy some fresh air, in COVID-19 times or not. Still, sitting spaces need to be comfortable and well-designed if people are going to spend their time there. Spending a little extra money on a backyard covering can be a great investment—a lesson El Moussa and Anstead are sure to apply to future flips.

The post Tarek El Moussa and Christina Anstead’s Top Tips on Flipping Amid a Pandemic—and Beyond appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Can Adding a Pool Increase Your Home Value?

While having a swimming pool just steps from your back door may sound appealing, there are a lot of factors to consider before adding, or even before buying a home with one. Here’s what you need to know.

The post Can Adding a Pool Increase Your Home Value? appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

5 winter DIY home projects

If you’re the type that loves to take on a good DIY project, the winter season can leave your options … lacking. Don’t despair, there’s still plenty that needs to be done around your home even when it’s cold outside. Here’s a list of indoor DIY projects you can start tackling today.

  • Insulate your water heater. A source of heat during the winter, you can reduce your home’s energy usage by wrapping your water heater in insulation to keep your water hot, whether you’re using it or not.
  • Add a programmable thermostat. This one just makes sense when considering energy conservation. Programmable thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home from anywhere and set preprogrammed temperature guidelines to lower your home’s temp when you’re away and raise it when you return.
  • A fresh coat of paint. Summer is the time for painting your home’s exterior, but the winter was made for inside painting projects. This is an easy way to add vibrancy to those dreary winter months. Just try to pick a day when it isn’t raining or snowing to make your ventilation easier.
  • Clear the clutter. Increase your living space by clearing junk. If you haven’t used it in a year, say goodbye.

 

The post 5 winter DIY home projects first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com