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Trees you should avoid planting in your yard

Trees you should avoid planting in your yard

By on Sep 3, 2019 in Outdoors, Residential |

When it comes to landscaping and curb appeal, trees can be a wonderful addition to your yard. From a functional standpoint, trees can provide shade or even utilize standing water in areas of your yard that may become over saturated when it rains. Aesthetically, trees can provide color and dimension. But certain trees can also be more trouble than they are worth. In fact, certain trees can be a hazard if you are not careful in which varieties to pick to plant in your yard. Here is a list of some trees that you should avoid planting, as well as some varieties you should consider the next time you head to your local nursery. Trees to avoid: Silver Maple While the Silver Maple is a large, fast growing tree that provides lots of shade; Its rapid rate of growth makes for brittle limbs. Brittle limbs are more likely to break during storms and could cause property damage or worse, injuries. In addition to brittle limbs, the Silver Maple also has a shallow root system. Because the roots remain closer to the surface, they often cause cracks in sidewalks and driveways. Ash Unlike the Silver Maple, Ash trees tend to be very sturdy. But the health of these trees is threatened here in the Midwest by an insect called the emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer is a small beetle that reproduces inside Ash trees, causing loss of bark and damage to the branches. Weakened branches pose a safety issue, and could cause damage to property. Because the emerald ash borer has become so prominent in Ohio it is best to avoid planting Ash trees, especially in residential areas. Existing Ash trees should be monitored closely by professionals for health and stability. Willow Possibly one of the most recognizable of all trees, willow trees have long, slender branches that are beautiful to look at. The downside of the Willow tree is its root system. Willows have a very aggressive root system that craves water, thus causing damage to sewer lines in residential areas. In addition to its invasive root system, the Willow tree has weak, brittle wood that can pose a hazard during storms. Lastly, compared to most other...

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Should You Repair or Replace your Furnace?

Should You Repair or Replace your Furnace?

By on Aug 6, 2019 in Furnaces, Heating, Residential |

Summer will be over before we you know it, and you may be thinking about getting a head start on preparing your home for fall and winter. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for the cooler seasons is inspecting your furnace for signs of wear and considering the repair or replacement of a broken system. It can be difficult to know when you should have your furnace surfaced by a professional and repaired or whether you should have your system replaced in its entirety. As a homeowner in the Midwest, you probably understand the importance of having an operational furnace for the winter. A faulty heating system can turn even a mildly frigid day into an uncomfortable situation. You can ensure your family’s comfort throughout the cold months by addressing your furnaces needs in the summer or early fall before the chilly weather sets in. Identifying issues early on allows time for you to have the necessary repairs done, or have the unit replaced by professionals. By planning ahead, you can research options and budget for the expense. While situations vary, these tips will help you learn about the best time to service your furnace, problems you may encounter and whether to repair or replace your system in each scenario. Scenario 1: Your furnace is emitting carbon monoxide- Any system that could expose you and your family to carbon monoxide needs to be replaced as soon as possible. A furnace with a cracked combustion chamber allows carbon monoxide to leak into your home and should always be replaced immediately. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, which is why it can be a silent killer. Households with gas furnaces should always be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. Between 2010 and 2015, 2000 people died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The highest number of deaths occurred in the winter during the months of frequent furnace use. Scenario 2: Your furnace is over 15 years old- Even the highest quality heating systems aren’t built to last forever. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a furnace should last 15-30 years before you’ll need a replacement. This varies by brand, quality, and other factors. But a heater will generally start to...

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Tips to Help You Beat the Summer Heat

Tips to Help You Beat the Summer Heat

By on Jul 11, 2019 in Air Conditioning, energy efficiency, Residential |

Staying cool in the summer heat can be a difficult task. Intense summer heat can make your home less comfortable to be in while raising household energy costs. Here are some simple ways to stay cool and comfortable during the summer. 1. Turn on your fans when air conditioning is in use. Using a fan while the air conditioner is running greatly enhances the cooling effect. While the air conditioner lowers the temperature of the air, fans circulate the cool air throughout the room and house. The boost in air circulation creates a wind chill that allows you to stay cool without having to set the AC unit very low. 2. Try using ice and a fan to stay cool. Set a bowl full of ice in front of a table fan. As the ice melts, the fan will blow cooler air toward you. This hack is great for while you’re working at your desk. You could also do the same thing with a fan on your kitchen counter to stay cool while you’re cooking. 3. Cut back on the use of appliances and lights. Appliances, gaming consoles, computers, and even standard light bulbs heat up your house while they are running, so turn them on as little as possible. Run the washing machine only when you have a full load. Eliminate the heat generated when using the dryer by hanging your clothes outside or around the house to air dry. Avoid using the dishwasher if it is not full. Instead, hand wash dishes in the sink and let them air dry or use a towel. Avoid using the oven and stove to prepare meals. Use the microwave or grill instead. You could also consider eating meals that don’t have to be cooked. Chef salad with julienned turkey and/or ham and deli sandwiches are great options. 4. Thirsty but don’t have any ice? Wrap your beverage of choice with a damp paper towel, then place it in the freezer for about fifteen minutes. Your drink will be chilled to perfection! 5. Eat and work out on your deck or patio in the evening. Once the sun is down, outdoor spaces serve as ideal places to have dinner, do homework,...

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Quick Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

Quick Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

By on Jun 22, 2019 in Residential |

Extreme outside temperatures in both summer and winter can make it difficult to keep your home comfortable inside. Turning up the heat or using central air can help. But without taking the precautions to make sure your warm or cool air stays inside, you could just be heating and cooling the neighborhood – and draining your pockets. On average, a typical household spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget on air that leaks into or out of the house through gaps and cracks. These gaps can be in your windows, doors, ceilings, and even in your attic. Here are some quick, simple tips to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Tip #1—Insulate around recessed light fixtures: Most recessed light fixtures have vents that open into the attic; which is a hidden way for warm or cool air to escape. Many homes have several of these types of fixtures, and they are a leading cause of household air leaks that go unnoticed. To fix the problem, examine your light fixtures and bulbs. Lights that are labeled ICAT- “insulation contact and air tight,” are already sealed. Next, examine the label next to the bulb. If you don’t see it, it’s safe to assume yours is leaking air. At $8 to $30, an airtight baffle is a quick, affordable fix. Simply remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, then replace the bulb when finished. Tip #2—Weather strip your doors including the attic door: Your doors aren’t just letting hot and cool air escape while people enter and exit. Many doors have gaps between the door itself and the door frame. To fix the access doors to your home, install new weather stripping around the door and new door sweeps at the bottom. To prevent the escape of air from the attic access door, seal it by caulking between the stair frame and the rough opening. You could also install foam weather stripping around the perimeter of the hatch. Some stores carry pre-insulated hatch cover kits for attic access doors. Tip #3—Adjust your thermostat accordingly: Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature when you are away from home helps keep the heating or cooling system...

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5 Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

5 Tips to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

By on Jun 10, 2019 in Residential |

Extreme outside temperatures in both summer and winter can make it difficult to keep your home comfortable inside. Turning up the heat or using central air can help. But without taking the precautions to make sure your warm or cool air stays inside, you could just be heating and cooling the neighborhood – and draining your pockets. On average, a typical household spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget on air that leaks into or out of the house through gaps and cracks. These gaps can be in your windows, doors, ceilings, and even in your attic. Here are some quick, simple tips to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Tip #1—Insulate around recessed light fixtures. Most recessed light fixtures have vents that open into the attic; which is a hidden way for warm or cool air to escape. Many homes have several of these types of fixtures, and they are a leading cause of household air leaks that go unnoticed. To fix the problem, examine your light fixtures and bulbs. Lights that are labeled ICAT- “insulation contact and air tight,” are already sealed. Next, examine the label next to the bulb. If you don’t see it, it’s safe to assume yours is leaking air. At $8 to $30, an airtight baffle is a quick, affordable fix. Simply remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, then replace the bulb when finished. Tip #2—Weather strip your doors including the attic door. Your doors aren’t just letting hot and cool air escape while people enter and exit. Many doors have gaps between the door itself and the door frame. To fix the access doors to your home, install new weather stripping around the door and new door sweeps at the bottom. To prevent the escape of air from the attic access door, seal it by caulking between the stair frame and the rough opening. You could also install foam weather stripping around the perimeter of the hatch. Some stores carry pre-insulated hatch cover kits for attic access doors. Tip #3—Adjust your thermostat accordingly. Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature when you are away from home helps keep the heating or cooling system from running excessively when no one...

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What You Need to Know About Energy Audits

By on Apr 3, 2019 in Air Conditioning, energy efficiency, Furnaces, Residential |

Saving money is always a plus, especially while being comfortable in your own home.  Be it winter or summer, the potential savings can be phenomenal. Back in August 2013, the government published Energy Saver 101 picturing a Home Energy Audit.  This publication has 101 ways to be protected from high energy costs.   What an energy audit is, and what it can do for you.  A home energy audit is an assessment of how well your home uses energy.  For instance, small cracks in the siding or foundation, can bring as much air into your home, as if you had left a window open for 24 hours.  Imagine leaving your window open overnight during subzero temperatures, how much harder is your furnace running? Or, leaving your window open all day while it is over 90 degrees and humid?  That’s when your air conditioning unit will be choking!  Take that extra pressure off your furnace and air conditioner by calling in a professional auditor.  Steps to take before signing a contract:  Check with your utility companies. They may do the audit themselves or be able to recommend a local company.   References. Get several references from the auditor company and contact them all.  Ask each referenced customer if they were satisfied with the results.  Call the BBB. The Better Business Bureau may have information on any complaints against the company.  Ask questions of the energy auditor.   Does the energy auditor use a calibrated blower door?  How about thermographic inspections?   If not, ask another auditor company.  Preparing for an audit.  Before the energy auditor visits your house   Make a list of any existing problems such as condensation and uncomfortable or drafty rooms.   Have copies or a summary of the home’s yearly utility bills (electric and heating if other than electric; such as gas, fuel oil, and coal).  The auditor then will analyze the residents’ behavior:   How many people live here?   Is your home occupied during the day?  What is the average thermostat setting for summer? For winter?  Do you use every room in the home?  What to expect during an audit.   Room-by-Room. The energy auditor will do a room-by-room examination of the residence.  Utility Bills. A thorough examination of your home’s bills for electric and heating. This will give the auditor an idea of what to look...

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