Category Archives: Save energy

Happy Father’s Day

My father is daily remembered for having taught me the most valuable lesson in life. A difficult lesson and not one that I recognized till years later, my father taught me the meaning of ‘tough love.’

Now many of you reading this will jump to the conclusion that my father compelled me to suffer some great hardship to learn this lesson. That was certainly a popular idea when I was growing up. Force the kids to endure the harsh realities of life.

Exactly the opposite was true. The love he taught me was tough on him, not on me. Countless times he went to bat for me and supported me despite having to sacrifice some of his own pride, personal ambition, or leisure.

After some time when I had been defiant, argumentative or downright combative and he had responded similarly, he came and apologized. Not for my behavior, I came to realize, but for his own, where he thought he had not achieved some standard he held himself to.

The lesson is simple enough. One I’ve needed with my own children and not easy to live up to. Love is sacrifice. I need to give up my own foolish pride, my selfish ambition, my wants, my time, and my self-serving indignation.

The proving ground for this may be your own family as it has been for dad and myself, but the real test is carrying this sacrifice into the world. Something dad excelled at as well, “Love your neighbor as thyself.”

4 Quick Tips to Save Energy

As energy costs rise each of us can benefit from reduced usage. Some of the more obvious tips are the first to be forgotten.

As children mom and dad always had us turn out lights when not in use. Today we can also benefit from low energy lighting such as CFL and LED bulbs. Tip No. 1 is to use low energy lighting wherever possible. A fringe benefit of LED lighting outdoors is it attracts less bugs (low heat).

Clean air filters for your HVAC unit will allow it to run at peak efficiency. Tape or magic marker on your filter duct the exact filter size so you’ll know it when you need it. Tip No. 2 is to buy more than filters than you need and you’ll have spares handy to change more often.

Turn the thermostat down when your not home. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive and easily installed (low voltage). Make sure you get the thermostat appropriate for your heating unit (heat pumps have special requirements). Tip No. 3 is to program your thermostat to lower heat or cooling when your not home and during the night.

While you’ll only wear warmer clothes during the cold weather your house will benefit from insulation all year long. Unconditioned spaces (not heated or cooled) should be insulated from the rest of your home. Typical unconditioned spaces are attics, basements or crawl spaces, and garages. Tip No. 4 is to install or add insulation to bring you house to the recommended R value for your region.

Mothers day

M is for the million things she gave me

O means only that she’s growing old

T is for the tears she shed to save me

H is for her heart of purest gold

E is for her eyes with love light shining

R means right and right she’ll always be

Put them all together they spell mother

A word that means the world to me
Howard Johnson

“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not boast…”

Mom didn’t teach me the words, she showed me.

Mom didn’t drive when we were little, but she would of taken the streetcar across country if the need arose. She rode the streetcar to care for her parents, rode it again to care for her aunts. Welcomed each of the grandparents in turn into the home as it became necessary.

Mom came from an ‘extended’ family. They were always extending themselves to others in need and so mom extended ours. With three boys and two girls it didn’t need a lot of extension.

Our family, past and present, ancestors and descendants always shared that secret ingredient that Mom excelled at, LOVE.

Building Codes

Building codes represent minimum safe standards of design and construction required by a local municipality. Differences in code from one location to another reflect the varying needs and demographics of each area.

As a home inspector my concern for building codes is not for their enforcement, but rather the safety standards they represent. As a home buyer you will want to insure that your family is protected by the most current safety standards.

Housing needs have changed over the years as technologies and materials have changed. In the post WWII building boom no one could have anticipated the vast array of electrical appliances we enjoy today. As a result houses built during those years, current in their time, no longer have a sufficient quantity or style of electrical outlets. Heating systems and insulation that was adequate when fuel was cheap are no longer satisfactory today. Building codes change to reflect the changing needs of modern homeowners.

Many of these systems are invisible to the average home-buyer. Investigating and calling out these disparities is what a good home inspection is all about. It provides a benchmark for comfortable and economical ownership.

No, we don’t enforce building codes, but you will want your family to benefit from current accepted safety standards and the local building codes provide just that reference.

Changing Your Filter Will Save You Money & Reduce your Energy Use

Winter is on its way.
Chances are you’ll be running your heat well before the official astronomical date.
Now is a good time to change those furnace filters to ensure your comfort and energy savings during the heating season.
While most of us are aware of our furnaces presence, it is rarely thought of until it doesn’t work as expected. You can save on heating and cooling costs by doing a little maintenance now and ensuring your comfort during the coming season.

Checking your furnace filter will provide you with the following benefits:

>> Help to reduce heating and cooling costs

>> Improve the comfort of your home

>> Protect the heating and cooling equipment

Many programmable thermostats have a function similar to the maintenance reminder on your car which will remember the last time you changed your filter. If your thermostat has this function, don’t forget to reset it after you service your furnace filter.

How often should I check my furnace filter?
Your ‘mileage’ may vary depending on the actual operating time of your air handler, but consider checking it every month as a base to determine your scheduling needs.

Where is my furnace filter located? The filter is usually located in the air return to the furnace which can be on either side of the furnace cabinet. In some cases you may need to remove the furnace cover (face) to access the filter, you will most often be able to do this without tools.

What type of furnace filter should I purchase? The need for clean air in the home has given rise to a wide variety of filter types, including electrostatic, washable and disposable filters. You needn’t ‘re-invent the wheel’ here, chances are the best filter for your installation is already present. Just replace with the same size and type.

How much does a furnace filter cost? Furnace filters can range from $2 to $30 depending on the type of filter you select. The ‘big box’ stores and even many grocery stores carry furnace filters, make sure to buy the correct size. If you prefer the less expensive type of filter buying more than one now will save you future trips.

Helpful Tip: Write down the size of your existing furnace filter in a convenient place before going to purchase a new one (many homeowners write the size directly on the visible portion of the furnace cabinet with permanent markers or on a piece of tape stuck to the cabinet – include the date of service if needed).

‘As is’ Contracts

Maryland, D.C. and Virginia standard home contracts have been revised according to The Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS (GCAAR) and the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS (NVAR) to no  longer include standard contingencies.

This means the buyer’s need for a thorough home inspection is doubly important.  Buyers can no longer be assured that the property they are considering will have basic functioning amenities.  Homes sold under the new contract will be completely ‘as-is.’

A home inspection is now, more than ever, a necessity for a new home purchase.

The seller no longer has any obligation to ensure that anything is in normal working condition. Now it’s all negotiable.

Holiday Season

Now that the holiday season is wrapping up, many of us will be taking down the tree and putting away all those decorations.

Now is a good time to examine the lights for frayed wires and damaged strings. Discard any that might pose a hazard or simply no longer work. Of particular concern are those outdoor lights that may have been inadvertently stapled through, especially older ‘B’ base (screw-in) bulbs.

Those of us in colder regions will be using our clothes drier more often this season, so don’t forget to clean that lint from the exhaust duct if you haven’t already. Wet lint clogging the duct can cause the drier to overheat or catch fire in more severe cases. At the very least your clothes will take longer to dry with a partially clogged duct, using more energy, and draining your pocketbook.