Sunday, April 27, 2008

Green Homes Mean More Efficient Living

It's clear that the building industry is taking a long, hard look at moving towards the greener side of the pasture. This is true in both the commercial and residential building market. And why not? Saving energy money in the long run while playing nice with the planet is a win-win.

There are several movers and shakers putting the green building (or sustainable building) agenda out there. One of the most prominent is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). They have developed a checklist to document the "greenness" of a dwelling.

This certification checklist goes into surprising detail, including such things as Non-toxic pest control, Proximity to mass transit systems, and ENERGY STAR performance.

What will the future of the green building movement be? It's exciting to contemplate. In addition to new construction, there's the issue of remodeling. This tends to focus on inspecting each new appliance or building material going into the job.

Green materials should be recycled or come from sustainable sources. They should also be low on the toxicity scale. And in the long run, they should save money on utilities.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Time for a Lawnmower Tune-Up

Spring has sprung! At least it has here - some of you may still be snowbound. Sorry about that! But either way it's time for that time-honored tradition; passed down from father to son: the lawnmower tune-up. Taking care of this will extend the life of it and circumvent needless frustration.

One important thing to do is sharpen you lawnmower blade. This will drastically increase efficiency, improve gas mileage, and keep the motor from working too hard.

It's also a good time to think about the outdoor projects you've thought about over the long, cold winter. Yard work is likely a large part of it. Why not take inventory of your landscaping tools? Does that old wheelbarrow have another year left in it?

I recently had a rust issue with my lawnmower. It gets so hot here in the summer that there are days when it just makes sense to mow the lawn before the dew dries. When the moist grass wedges itself on the underside of the mower deck, our old friend oxidation pays a visit...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time for Air Conditioners; Summer's not Far Off

I've actually had to run my central air conditioner this past week. But then again, this is South Texas. Northern climes aren't necessarily in that situation. But that does present a good opportunity for the old spring tune up.

DIY VS Calling an A/C Service Technician

There are a number of air conditioning repairs and preventive maintenance chores that the average Joe or Joan can tackle. Cleaning the outdoor condenser coils comes to mind. Proper air flow means enhanced performance.

Cleaning and straightening the cooling fins also fall in this category. How many times were they bumped by the lawn mower last year?

For adding or recovering refrigerant, you're going to need certification and a set of gauges. That's more than likely something you'll need to call a pro for.

Another thing to check, often overlooked, is leveling the condenser. Check it in all directions and shim it as needed.

Tune Up your Thermostat

Programmable thermostat? Digital thermostat? Turn of the century model? It doesn't matter - they can all benefit from a thermostat tune up. Here's a short list of what you can do:
  1. If its got batteries, go ahead and replace them.
  2. Make sure it's level.
  3. Clean out any dust.
  4. Adjust the anticipator.

If you take care of these spring cleaning chores now, you won't have to rush to do them on that really hot day when the service guy can only book you during his overtime hours.