E-Newsletter                                              May 2013 

In This Issue
Thank you to our sponsors!
Memorial Day, May 27
Replace a working air conditioning unit?
Greenest of the green
What you can do before severe weather strikes
Tornado safety tips
Deal with a reputable HVAC Company
Thank you to our sponsors!
 
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Memorial Day, May 27
Memorial Day, formally known as Decoration Day, is observed on the last Monday of May. The special day started as an event to honor Union soldiers, who had died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who die in any war or military action for the United States.  

  

The day was originally inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. For years, and to this day in many areas, family members would visit cemeteries where all their family members were buried to clean the grave sites and leave flowers.

 

It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half-mast from dawn until noon. Volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries and at the graves of military service men and women in cemeteries throughout the country.

 

While many people still visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service, for many the day and weekend has become less of an occasion of remembrance and more about the start of summer. It has become a weekend of picnics, sporting events and family gatherings.

 

Please remember that Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died serving our country. All of us at House Talk Today Radio wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day. 

 

Chris Miles                            Alex Guthrie 

 

For history buffs: http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html

Replace a working air conditioning unit? 
Steve Lauten, President of Total Air & Heat, shared this information:   

First, if your unit is over 8 years old, it is an energy hog. Second, air conditioners always go out at the worst possible time. 

 

If you need to replace your unit, consider this fancy acronym: the SEER rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher this number, the more energy efficient the unit is which means the more money you will save on energy bills.

 

We recommend you purchase a unit with a 16 - 23 SEER rating. These units have a higher upfront cost, but will save you much more in the long run. 

Greenest of the green: Top efficiency-boosting home improvements
Buyers are willing to shell out up to 10 percent more for new homes certified green, according to a January real estate report by Harvard University. If you're looking for eco-friendly home improvements, these five are among the greenest you can make:
  
1. Switch to a solar water heater - Switching to solar power for heating water can be a huge energy and money-saver. Solar hot water systems rely on free energy from the sun to heat a home's hot water. A typical system can use 50-80 percent less energy than traditional heating systems, according to Velux America, marketers of solar-powered hot water systems. That reduction can help a typical household trim its annual energy costs by 10-15 percent.

 

"While the initial cost of installing a solar-powered system is often higher than installing a traditional water heater, most homeowners find the energy savings allows them to recoup that cost in just a few years," says Jim Cika of solar system manufacturer Heliodyne. "What's more, homeowners may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost to buy and install a residential solar water heating system." Visit www.solar.veluxusa.com to learn more about solar water heating.

 

2. Eliminate incandescents now.  Federal law banning incandescent light bulbs means that by the end of 2014, you probably won't be able to find one of the old-fashioned power-guzzlers on store shelves anymore. Instead, more energy-efficient bulbs such as LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) will dominate the marketplace.

 

3. Add or upgrade a skylight - Installing a skylight, or replacing an older model skylight with a new Energy Star-qualified one, can help reduce utility costs. The natural light from a skylight can help reduce the need for artificial light sources, thereby paring down electricity costs. When you pair no leak solar-powered fresh air skylights equipped with automatic rain sensors and efficiency-enhancing, energy saving accessories like designer solar powered blinds, you gain a new source of fresh air while improving energy efficiency by up to 37 percent, according to skylight manufacturer Velux.

 

In addition to long-term savings, the cost of solar powered skylights and blinds, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit as a green home improvement. For a tax calculator that will show you the tax benefits of new or replacement skylights for your home visit www.veluxusa.com.

 

And, if you would like to see exactly how skylights would look in your home, there's an app there that allows you to take pictures inside your home and superimpose skylights and blinds on the image of your ceiling.  Sunlight entering the home through a skylight can help reduce winter heating bills. EnergyStar.gov says installing an EnergyStar-qualified skylight, windows and doors can trim a home energy bill by 7 to 15 percent over non-qualified products. Visit www.EnergyStar.gov

to learn more.

 

4. Replace an old HVAC system - In the typical American home, up to half of total energy consumption goes to heat and cool the house, Replacing old, inefficient heating, ventilation and cooling systems with newer, more efficient models can dramatically reduce a home's heating and cooling costs.

 

5. Upgrade old windows and doors - A home can lose a tremendous amount of air - hot in the winter, cool in the summer - through poorly sealed doors and windows. Older units, obviously, tend to be less energy efficient than newer ones. Upgrading from drafty windows and doors to more air-tight models can result in significant savings on your heating and cooling costs.

 

Replacing windows and doors are among the home improvements that deliver significant ROI at the time of resale. Replacing old windows with new vinyl ones can recoup more than 71 percent of the cost when you sell; 73 percent for wooden replacement windows, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report. And installing a new front door earns you back nearly 66 percent for a fiberglass door and a whopping 85.6 percent for a steel door. 

What you can do before severe weather strikes
We have already seen major damage and lives lost because of storms, hail, high winds, and tornadoes.  Here are some things from the National Weather Service that you can do to protect your family.    

* Develop a disaster plan for you and your family at home, work, school, and when outdoors. The American Red Cross offers planning tips and information on a putting together a disaster supplies kit at: http://www.redcross.org

 

* Identify a safe place to take shelter. Information on how to build a Safe Room in your home or school is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at http://www.fema.gov/hazard/tornado/to_saferoom.shtm

 

* Know the county in which you live or visit and in what part of that county you are located. The National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings on a county/parish basis, or for a portion of a county.

 

* Keep a highway map nearby to follow storm movement from weather bulletins.

 

* Have a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver unit with a warning alarm tone and battery back-up to receive warning bulletins.

 

* National Weather Service (NWS) watches and warnings are also available on the Internet. Select your local NWS office at http://www.weather.gov/organization.php

 

* Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outdoors. Watch for signs of approaching storms.Most local network television stations offer a free app to follow local weather.

 

* If severe weather threatens, check on people who are elderly, very young, or physically or mentally disabled. Don't forget about pets and farm animals. 

Tornado safety tips from the National Weather Service
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the ground to the cloud base. 
You may  not be able to see the tornado.A tornado can occur before there is a visible funnel cloud.  No place is totally safe from tornadoes (except for a safe room or storm celler).  If weather conditions come together properly, the tornado will go over or through mountains, lakes, rivers, and through downtown areas that have 1,000 foot skyscrapers.  Be aware of flying debris. Most deaths and injuries are caused by flying debris.  
 
.* Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or a pre-designated shelter. Go to the lowest level of the building,  and get under a heavy desk or workbench or sit next to the wall and cover your head with your arms/hands. Consider installing a special safe room in the garage. 

 

* If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room/hallway, put as many walls between you and the outside of the building, and stay away from windows. Or get in a bathtub or under a bed or sofa. 

 

* Don't waste time opening windows and doors to equalize air pressure differences. This is a waste of time and buildings have enough air leakage to equalize air pressure differences anyway. Buildings are more likely to explode after the wind gets inside.  

 

* Get out of vehicles, they can easily be tossed around. Do not try to outrun a tornado.   

 
* Do not seek shelter under a highway overpass. Winds blow stronger under the overpass due to the wind tunnel effect. Additionally, flying debris (glass, wood, metal) can pummel you, and the tornado winds may suck you out from under the overpass anyway.* If caught outside lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands. Laying down in a ditch may not be your best choice.In tornado situations debris likes to settle in roadside ditches or other low spots. If heavy rains are falling in the area, ditches and low spots may quickly flood.    

 

* Manufactured homes (mobile trailers) offer little protection, even if tied down. Leave these for a sturdy shelter before the storm approaches.

Deal with a reputable HVAC Company
Advent Air Conditioning recommends that you make sure you have your HVAC system serviced this spring to ensure maximum efficiency, prevent unwanted service calls and to extend the life of your equipment.
  
When choosing a HVAC company, make sure you are dealing with a reputable one. The average HVAC company has been in business in the DFW area for only 2.5 years.
 
Advent Air Conditioning, Inc. has been in the DFW area since 1981. 
 
Do your homework.  Check with the BBB and organizations such as NARI. local Home Builder's Associations and Angie's list. Spending a little time to check a company's tenure in the industry, references, quality assurance programs and ratings can save you thousands of dollars before it's too late. 
Please join us!

We look forward to you joining our show, House Talk Today, every Saturday from 1-3 p.m. in the DFW area on 660 AM The Answer and in the Houston area on NEWS 92 FM or iheart radio or www.housetalktoday.com or ksky.com.
 
If you have a home building, maintenance, repair or remodeling questions, please give us a call during our show at 800-281-8255 and let us know how we can help you. If you can't call, then email us anytime.

Please feel free to share this newsletter with others. Also, if you follow us on facebook, you will pick up more useful tips and information for use around the house.

Chris Miles                                                                                         Alex Guthrie
chris@housetalktoday.com                                                                  alex@housetalktoday.com