How To Maximize Comfort And Lower Your Utility Bills Solar Energy Is Hot Start Your Home Improvement Project Have It Easy With Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Roman Shades Light Wise Window Solution

If you think summers have been getting hotter in recent years, you may be right. In fact, according to the National Climatic Data Center, 2005 was the warmest year since national records began in 1895. Combine those rising temperatures with increasing energy costs to cool your home, and the situation can be downright unbearable.

To help beat the heat, Lennox Industries, a leading provider of customized home comfort systems, provides answers to some common questions about how to increase home comfort and save money during the hottest months of the year, based on the pioneering and knowledge of company founder Dave Lennox.

How can I lower my utility bills?

With the average homeowner spending more than $2,100 on energy-about half of it for heating and cooling-the cost of keeping cool can be expensive. To improve your home’s energy efficiency and lower utility bills, conduct a simple home energy audit. Start by examining exterior walls, doors, and windows to identify any cracks where cool air could be seeping out, and seal leaks with caulk or weather stripping. Keep window blinds closed during the day to block sunlight from entering the home and plant trees around the house for added shade.

In addition, check your attic’s insulation. If it’s insufficient, the home’s cooling system may have to work harder to regulate the indoor temperature. Add more if there currently is less than five inches.

Finally, be sure to set up an appointment with a home cooling professional to inspect and clean your air conditioner to ensure it’s working as efficiently as possible. You may also want to install a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the indoor temperature while you’re away, which also can help lower your energy bill.

My house feels sticky and sometimes smells musty. What can I do about it?

Even when the temperature is right, your house may still feel sticky due to excessive humidity, and that can affect your overall comfort and well-being. In fact, too much moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can potentially cause health issues.

To determine whether you have a humidity problem, have the air in your home tested. Lennox Industries offers a service known as the Healthy Advantage Program, in which an air-quality monitor is placed inside the home to measure humidity levels, as well as temperature, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, odors, chemical vapors and airborne particles–all of which can affect your health and comfort.

If there is a moisture problem, it’s important to inspect the house for any water leaks, and take appropriate measures to correct the problem. You also may want to consider purchasing a dehumidifier, which can significantly reduce the moisture in your home. Lennox recently introduced the Humiditrol whole-home dehumidification system, which is installed in your home’s existing duct system and can remove up to three times more moisture from the air than a conventional dehumidifier.

My air conditioner is about 20 years old and I’m afraid it’s on its last leg. What should I look for when shopping for a new system?

The average lifespan of a quality central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years, so it’s smart to be thinking about replacement. Planning ahead gives you time to conduct research and select the right system based on your specific needs. Consult the Good Housekeeping Institute, as well as manufacturer Web sites and local air conditioning professionals, who can help guide you in making an informed decision.

One of the most important things to consider when shopping for a new system is the seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER). While the national minimum SEER rating is 13, many newer models have a SEER of 15 and higher, which will help make your home more energy efficient. Some systems, such as the Dave Lennox Signature Collection XC21 air conditioner, are nearly twice as efficient as a standard air conditioner.

Finally, don’t put a price tag on comfort. Purchase a system that is priced within your budget, but don’t compromise your comfort, household energy efficiency or long-term savings by purchasing a unit that will not satisfy your needs well into the future.

No doubt you’ve heard plenty about solar power but always thought it was too expensive, aside from minor uses in the now popular garden lighting systems. However, with fuel prices climbing and solar cells becoming more reasonable, adding solar power to your home is a great, long term solution to high energy bills.

That isn’t to say they’re cheap. Before rebates, it typically takes 12 or more years for a homeowner to make their investment in solar panels back. That’s much longer than the average person is willing to wait. However, many states now offer rebates, so the final cost to the homeowner is much less than it use to be. The rebates vary from state to state, so it’s impossible to say how much of an impact they have overall. There may also be federal incentives.

Solar panels are also steadily becoming more efficient. They produce more energy than they used to. They require relatively little maintenance, many of which you may be able to do yourself. This helps to make them very cost effective.

Solar energy isn’t just for making electricity. You can use it heat the water for your swimming pool or heat your home. There are many options available for those who are interesting in building an energy efficient home without sacrificing comfort.

Solar power is much, much cheaper than it used to be, as prices have fallen by 90% since the 1970s. That doesn’t make it cheap – yet! – to install enough photovoltaic cells to power a house, but in some areas the incentives given to install solar cells cuts the overall cost to the homeowner about in half.

To decide if solar energy is right for you, take some basic figures into consideration.

Home improvement can be defined as modifying the existing structure of one’s home by making additions and making changes. Mostly a professional technician is recruited however, sometimes; the home improvements is done on a non-professional and an amateur basis by the homeowner.

As mentioned above, there are two ways of going about the process of home improvement. The first id the professional and the second is the do it your self (DIY) method. In the professional method you could hire a general contractor to be in charge of the whole home improvement project. On the other hand you could do away with the contractor and ‘do it yourself (DIY). You will need to hire the plumbers, electricians, roofers etc yourself.

There are endless types of works in that you could do. To begin with the walls could be wall papered, or painted. Wood paneling can also be installed on it. New flooring, such as linoleum, hardwood flooring, and tiling can be installed. The kitchen and bathroom sink, cabinets, and pipes can be replaced with new ones. The electrical and plumbing systems could be upgraded. As also the heating and the air conditioning systems.

Similarly other home improvements projects that t could be undertaken are the tearing and replacement of the roof, repairing the foundation and the chimney if required, waterproofing the basements etc. these are only a few of the home improvements projects mentioned here.

Let’s admit it. Installing hardwood flooring is quite a task and not many do it yourselfers succeed perfectly during their first try. True, installing hardwood flooring is a skill, but it can be less of a chore and a headache if you go with prefinished hardwood flooring in the first place.

Prefinished means it has already been coated and sealed with translucent film which serves as its protection from daily wear. What finishings can do is shield your hardwood floor from spills and scratches, and make it easier for you to wipe or mop clean.

If you’re thinking of installing hardwood flooring yourself, you can enjoy the greatest ease and convenience with prefinished planks. With prefinished hardwood floors, the task of nailing the flooring to your subfloor ends after the drilling is done.

If you purchased pure hardwood oak or maple (or whatever is available), you will have to apply finishings, sand it down and put on wax and polishers after. The amount of time to perform the task of installing a hardwood floor is halved if prefinished wood is used.

Prefinished floors also have a better finish than most independently finished floors. Because the application is uniform and the volumes of coating controlled and predetermined, you are sure that every prefinished hardwood floor plank is of the best quality. Normally, prefinished floors are thrice sanded and coated with aluminum oxide finish eight times. They are also likely to have been tested for various normal wear situations and made more resilient.

Prefinished flooring is a little more expensive than pure hardwood planks. However, when you do the math on everything that has to be done to make the basic form shine to your liking, you’ll actually eventually spend a lot more with the latter, not to mention the heavy labor that you need to put into it.

Sure, you can argue that you can always hire professionals to do the job for you, but if cost is an issue, then you’ll be thanking the high heavens that somebody had enough foresight to come up with prefinished hardwood flooring. Be a wise and practical consumer. Sanding and finishing entire floorings is a thing of the past. Now that prefinished floors are available, you should spare yourself from the hassle.

Fabric roman shades add a touch of refinement, flair and sophistication to any room. You can buy a ready-to-use set of Roman shades or you can create them from scratch in any fabric and size that you like. You can hang Roman shades flat for a more modern style, or fold them and create a softer and more conventional teardrop Roman shade style with buffs of any volume.

Roman shades are becoming a big home-decorating trend, returning on a wave of the interest to streamlined minimalist or exotic designs. Made with beautiful soft fabric, simple and very practical, Roman shades fold into well-defined pleats when raised, much like a classic Venetian blind. At the top, a matching fabric is used allowing for an array of color and pattern. For the lining, a solid pale color is commonly used.

Roman shades are incredibly flexible and light-efficient. They also offer better temperature control than other types of shades. In winter, you can draw them high to allow the sun’s natural heating rays to enter the room, and after the sunset you can close them tightly stopping the heat from escaping through the window. In the summer, you can close the Roman shades almost completely to prevent the overheating of the room, while in the evening you can open the shades to cool down the temperature. All other types of shades leave too much fabric around the window that doesn’t allow for precise light and temperature control.

Roman shades are relatively simple to make. Before you start picking the fabric you must measure your window and estimate which hardware and mountings you need. Roman shades don’t require any specific mountings – that’s the beauty of them. They draw up via a cord strung through the sides of the shade. The cords then travel through the pulleys mounted on mounting board above the window on or outside the window frame.

The fabric that you choose for your roman shades depends on where the window overlooks. If there is a beautiful scenic view you will most likely choose a plain sheer light fabric. If your window overlooks a busy street, then you will need an opaque fabric that gives you a sense of privacy. Plus, some people are prone to season affected disorders and need more light to remain positive and healthy. In this case, you may need a sheer fabric that doesn’t block the sun light, but rather diffuses it.

The type of fabric is also determined on what type of activities the room is used for. If it’s a living room with a TV, you may need a fabric that allows you to control the amount of light and glare on the screen. If you a planning to put your roman shades in the bedroom you will need a light-blocking dark fabric to help you sleep during the summer months when the sun rises early.

At the end of the day, all window treatments require maintenance and cleaning. The benefit of roman shades is that they are the easiest to keep clean – you can wash them in your washing machine, iron afterwards and re-hang them looking as good as new.

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