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  • Writer's pictureLisa Bea Smith

Foundation drainage is a critical component in home and commercial inspections! While common, most foundation defects can be easily, and inexpensively, fixed, if found in a timely manner. If left unattended to, these conditions can only get worse and lead to much more expensive repairs, and in some cases, structural failure.

The house’s foundation should not be covered and be visible for at least 6” for brick walls and at least 8” for siding and stucco walls.

Gutter downspouts should lead away from the foundation at least 6 feet, 10 feet is better.

Covering the foundation can lead to water infiltration, insect intrusion, rot, mold and structural failure.

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  • Writer's pictureLisa Bea Smith

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

It’s easy for homeowners to make some very simple changes to make their home more energy efficient!

1. Heating and Cooling of your home:

Since as much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling, adjustments to heating and cooling can make a big difference. Install a ceiling fan. Air that is moving feels cooling than still air. Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters. Be aware of the thermostat setting. The thermostat should be turned down at night and when no one is at home. About 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day; therefore, reducing the temperature setting from 78degF to 72degF with save 12% on heating costs. An installed programmable thermostat will allow heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Curtains should be drawn over the windows to protect against cold at night in the winter and heat from the sun in the summer. Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces. Check room insulation.

2. Tankless Water Heater installation

Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs.

3. Replace incandescent lights with LEDs or CFLs

Approximately 11% of a home energy budget is attributed to lighting. Most incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. LEDs consume less energy than CFLs, last longer, and contain no mercury.

4. Seal and insulate your home.

Check for air leakage around these areas:

  • electrical receptacles/outlets;

  • mail slots;

  • around pipes and wires;

  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners;

  • attic hatches;

  • fireplace dampers;

  • inadequate weatherstripping around doors;

  • baseboards;

  • window frames

  • switch plates

Inspection of the attic is important. Check the attic for large holes, such as where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped ceiling areas. Look for dark areas on the insulation, which can indicate interior air filtering through the insulation into the attic. Expanding foam can be used to seal the openings around plumbing vent pipes and electrical wires. These areas should be insulated after the caulk is dry. The attic access panel should be sealed with weatherstripping, fiberglass, or rigid foamboard insulation.

5. Efficient showerheads and toilets should be installed.

Low-flow showerheads are available in different flow rates and some even have a pausebutton to shut off the water while the bather is lathering. Low-flow toilets can save thousands of gallons a year. Vacuum assist toilets or dual flush toilets are another option for conserving water.

6. Appliances and Electronics should be used responsibly.

About 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home are due to appliances and electronics. Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight. Computers and/or monitors should be shut off when not in use. Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. These devices, approved by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program, include TVs, home theater systems, DVD players, CD players, receivers, speakers, and more. Chargers, such as those used for laptops and cell phones should be unplugged when not in use, as they consume energy when they are plugged in.

7. Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior and can be achieved with skylights (double-paned and properly flashed), light shelves, clerestory windows, and light tubes.

8. Insulate windows and doors.

About one-third of the home's total heat loss is through windows and doors. Rope caulk is the cheapest and simplest way to seal all window edges and cracks. Weatherstrip windows with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. Apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter of each door to tightly seal when closed. Quality door sweeps should be installed on the bottom of the doors. Replace single pane windows with double pane windows. Windows with rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't work should be repaired or replaced.

9. Cook smart.

Convection ovens cook at lower temperatures and use approximately 20% less energy than conventional ovens. Microwave ovens use about 80% less energy than conventional ovens. The heating element used should match the pot or pan size. Use lids on pots and pans. Pressure cookers allow food to be cooked in much less time. The top rack of the oven should be used to cook food more quickly.

10. Do your laundry the smart way.

Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load. Avoid using high-temperature settings when unnecessary. Hot water uses far more energy than warm-water setting, but isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean. Every time that the dryer is used, the dryer lint trap should be cleaned to reduce the time for the clothes to dry, as well eliminate a fire hazard. Use sunshine to dry and disinfect your clothes. Do not put clothes that are dripping wet into the dryer. Wring them out first.

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