House Talk Today Radio Show Newsletter            September, 2012




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In This Issue


Argyle house update

Mysteries solved

Safety tip

Fall energy savings projects

Choosing window replacement company

Measuring heat gain and loss in windows and skylights

Q & A: 2012 Energy Tax Credits


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Chris Miles                            Alex Guthrie 


Argyle house update from Chris Miles


The Argyle House is complete and the homeowners have moved in.


Click here to see photos on our website.  The photos posted show the family room/kitchen. The master bath, looking towards the master shower, is also shown. Note, this shower does not have a door. The shower is designed to provide an able person or disabled person easy access.


All floors throughout the house are "polished" concrete. 1/16th to 1/8th inch was ground off the top layer to expose the rock, giving the floor a smooth finish.


The cabinets are built of maple and stained a dark color.  The insides have a clear finish.  


We are working on the exterior landscaping and rainwater system. The driveway will be gravel. A minimal number of landscape plants and Bermuda grass (which is drought tolerant) will be planted. The rainwater system will be a 15' x 7', 9937 gallon cistern. All the water will be used for irrigation.


Watch for more updates in the next couple of weeks.





Mysteries solved by Alex Guthrie  


Some mysteries just aren't fun; like the time I was trying to find a client's water meter and even with the assistance of 2 plumbers, we could not locate it.


This shouldn't have been difficult, it's a relatively simple thing, find the water meter cover; open it and turn off the water. Only no one including the property owner realized that the water meter had never been hooked to the water supply. The house was still hooked up to the temporary water supply from when the house was built years before; and buried underground. It occurred to me, what if there had been an emergency and the water to the house needed to be turned off? In fact, it was odd that disaster hadn't occurred!


Not all water meters are the same but there is a simple and inexpensive tool called a meter wrench that you should have ready to use in case you need it. This tool has a key on one end that unlocks and opens the meter cover and a 2 pronged wrench on the other end for actually turning the water valve on or off. Be aware that fire ants and other critters sometimes love nesting in meters.


It surprises me that homeowners aren't more in tune with how their house operates, especially potentially dangerous things like gas and electrical. Unfortunately, many times this isn't a priority for the builder and most cities don't regulate the accessibility to these services. So you may have to run to the street to turn off your water or to the ally to turn off your gas.  


Click here to read more Mysteries Solved by Alex.  


Safety tip

If you have a gas grill, check any joints for possible gas leaks.


To test this safely, prepare a soapy solution by mixing one part water and one part liquid soap.  Make sure the control knobs are off.  Work in a well ventilated area.  


Open the gas valve slightly and spray solution on gas line joints. There is a leak if bubbles form on any of the joints.  


Stop leaks by tightening the seals, but if the leak persists, parts should be replaced. Remember to close the gas valve once you've finished.


Fall energy savings projects

1.. Install indoor motion detectors. 

Basic indoor motion detectors, costing around $25 each, are easy to install. Lights turn on when someone enters the room and turn off when the room is empty.


2.. Caulk and weatherstrip doors, windows and where different materials meet.  Even newer homes may be losing indoor air through cracks. Check around doors and windows for gaps. 


3.. Seal unused fireplaces.  Traditional chimneys with a metal damper, can account for a loss of up to 15% of your indoor heat. Fireplaces are hard to seal, but if yours is unused, one option is to buy an inflatable damper. The damper is basically a pillow fitted inside your chimney to block air from escaping. A variety of products sell for under $60.


4.. Make sure interior attic door is insulated and fits as snugly as possible so you don't lose heat to the attic.


What to look for in a replacement window company

By: Chuck Lanham Jr, Lanham Window Company


Replacing your home's windows may be one of the most expensive improvements your family will explore, and selecting a quality window and vendor can be a daunting task.


Many companies claim to have the BEST window and service money can buy. How can this be? Not everyone can be the best. So how can buyers make the right decision?


Consumers should trust their gut instinct and ask themselves a basic question. Can a company be the cheapest, yet truly offer and provide the best product and installation? Common sense should tell us that we have to pay a little more for quality. Below are additional factors to consider when searching for a window company:

  • Consider a local manufacturer so that parts are readily available resulting in a reduced carbon footprint.
  • Ask if the glass is sealed with a spacer material to keep metal from touching other metal and the glass. Metal touching glass conducts heat/cold.
  • Look for a window without weep holes because they allow water to get inside the frame, potentially causing mold, odors and other nuisances.
  • Evaluate the construction of the window. Does it have reinforcement for the mainframe? Hint: look for screws at the side of the sample window. No screws mean no reinforcement.
  • Select a company whose installers are employed by and invested in the company and not independent sub-contractors. 
  • Evaluate signs of professionalism including uniformed personnel and company labeled trucks.

To gain more information and ideas, we invite anyone interested to participate in our FREE webinar, which takes place the first Saturday of every month at 10 am. 


Call or e-mail for more details at:

Phone: 817-546-2000 Email:


Measuring heat gain and loss in windows and skylights 

Windows and skylights gain heat in the summer increasing cooling costs and lose expensive heat in the winter.  Here's how:

  • Direct conduction through the glass or glazing, frame, and/or door
  • The radiation of heat into a house (typically from the sun) and out of a house from room-temperature objects, such as people, furniture, and interior walls
  • Air leakage through and around them.

Use these energy performance characteristic information when choosing new windows and skylights:  

  • U-factor: The lower the U-factor, the more energy-efficient the window, door, or skylight.
  • Solar heat gain coefficient: A product with a low rating is more effective at reducing cooling loads during the summer by blocking heat gain from the sun.
  • Air leakage rating:  A product with a low air leakage rating is tighter than one with a high air leakage rating. 


Q & A:  Are there any Energy Tax Credits for 2012?


  30% Energy Tax Credits in  

  2012  remain for the following:





  • geothermal heat pumps (no upper limit, both principal residences & second homes apply)
  • solar energy systems (no upper limit, both principal residences & second homes apply)
  • small wind turbines (no upper limit, both principal residences & second homes apply)

For more info, check out the Energy Star Energy Tax Credit site.