Monthly Archives: October 2015

Most of us rely on our hot water heaters on a daily basis, but many of us don’t know the first thing about them, nor do we pay attention to them until our shower goes cold. In order to learn a bit more about where our hot water comes from, and in an effort to save money on our home energy costs, we take a look at these options, as described by our friends at Pillar to Post.

Storage (Tank) Water Heaters – These are by far the most common type of residential water heater. WaterHeaters

In these systems, cold water flows into a tank where it is heated by gas or electric power. Once the water in the tank reaches the desired temperature, the heater will cycle on and off to maintain the temperature of the water. As the hot water gets used, more cold water will enter the tank to be heated. Most of us know the phenomenon of running out of hot water after family members take one shower after another; this will occur if the tank’s storage capacity is insufficient to meet the demand. At other times of the day when relatively little or even no hot water is being used, the heater must still fire on and off to keep the contents of the tank hot. Unfortunately, it is quite inefficient to keep a tank of water hot all day, especially when the water isn’t needed.

 

Tip: Adding an insulating wrap to an existing water heater can boost efficiency and energy savings – these are inexpensive and can be installed by the homeowner. New U.S. standards introduced in 2015 include a requirement that manufacturers use an increased level of insulation in their storage water heaters.

Tankless

Tankless (Demand) Water Heaters – Tankless or demand water heaters are exactly what their name implies. Rather than being stored in a tank, the water is rapidly heated by gas or electricity once the faucet is turned on. For many homes, a tankless heater can be located close to the sink or shower to heat water on the spot. Because it reaches the desired temperature so quickly, much less water is wasted while waiting for hot water to flow through the faucet, however the results are not truly instantaneous. Tankless heaters powered by gas are usually much more efficient than electric heaters – in fact, electricity costs can sometimes negate much of the savings a tankless system might otherwise provide. Most tankless heaters will already meet the new 2015 energy efficiency requirements implemented in the U. S. Tankless systems normally cost more upfront than a conventional storage water heater, so homeowners should take that into account along with what type, size, and location makes the most sense for them.

 

Solar Water Heating – The basic concept of solar water heating is that the sun’s energy is used to pre-heat water for the home. The pre-heated water then flows into a solar tank that monitors temperature. Then it is piped into the regular hot water system, usually a storage water heater. If no water is turned on within a brief period of time, the water circulates through the system again, making it unnecessary to keep a large tank of water constantly hot. The pre-heating is done by one or two solar panels, usually installed on the roof. Solar water heating is becoming more and more popular as costs for the systems continue to decrease. By some accounts, including the California Energy Commission, a typical solar water heating system can pay for itself in as little as four to seven years.

No matter what type of water heating homeowners choose, it pays to do some research first to discover the ins and outs of various types for their specific situation. With efficiency and decreased energy use as a goal, the best choice of water heater depends on what pencils out in any given home.

This article originally appears here, courtesy of Ken Peter at Pillar to Post in Longmont.

While winter does not start officially for another two months, here in Colorado we are expecting some cold weather to arrive on the Front Range very soon.  In preparation for the pending dip in temperatures – and to be ready for the year’s first frost – take a look at this list of useful efficiency and safety tips, from Home Advice Expert, Bob Villa.

Windows and Doors

  • Check all the weatherstripping around windows and door frames for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
  • Replace all window screens with storm windows.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

 

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.Snow
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

 

Tools and Machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  • Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

 

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

SaveMoney

****************

Article originally appears here.

 

October has always been my favorite month of the year, ever since I was a young girl. When I was in High School and College, October signified the middle of Cross Country Season (which I loved). The trees were turning colors, the mornings were brisk, and the days were warm. I used to love to run through the leaves that had fallen and hear the crunching beneath my feet.

While I have moved on from my youth and from my Cross Country days, my love for October has not wavered. October is still my favorite month of the year. I still love seeing all of the magnificent colors, and I love the start of the change in seasons. The days are still warm, while the mornings and evenings are brisk.

Sharing this love of October with my daughter and seeing it through her eyes has made my heart fill with so much joy. While my husband has been away, we have visited five pumpkin patches in the last week soaking up everything that Boulder in October has to offer.pumpkin

I’m excited to share my experiences with you, and to give you some insight into pumpkin patch family fun.

Here are my three favorite pumpkin patches in the Boulder area.

1. Anderson Farms – 6728 County Road, Erie, CO | 303-828-5210 | www.andersonfarms.com

Admission: Adults – Monday-Friday-$10; Saturday & Sunday $13; Children under 3 years-Free

Anderson Farms was the first pumpkin patch I visited. Driving up and parking I couldn’t help but notice how HUGE the property is! While we were at Anderson Farms we enjoyed a hayride (included with admission price) to pick out our pumpkins. The hayride was about 10 minutes long and my daughter loved being in the back of a truck with the wind blowing through her hair! She really loved being able to run through the pumpkin fields to pick out her very own pumpkin. (My advice is to wear boots or close toed shoes stable shoes. I wore flip flops-which was a mistake.)

PonyIncluded with admission price is the barnyard 500 pedal carts, which looked like a ton of fun, barrel train – perfect for my two-year-old, feeding the farm animals, playing on “tire mountain”, and a 30-acre corn maze which is open all day and night, and an awesome playground!

There are a few things that are offered at Anderson Farm at an extra price that my daughter insisted on, such as pony rides ($5). She loved this! Picking a pumpkin (cost is by the size of the beast). Gem Mining, Gourd launching, Private Campfire Sites, Face Painting, and Paint a Pumpkin Junction are all also offered at an extra price.

For the older kids/adults they offer “Terror in the Corn” and Zombie paintball. You can check that out here.

There is a darling general store on site that offers fun trinkets and food. We did have a bite to eat at the little restaurant on site, and our meal included apple juice, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and chips. If you are gluten free or require a special diet, bring your own lunch.

 

2. Cottonwood Farms – 1535 N 75th Street Boulder, CO 80303 | 720-890-4766 | www.cottonwoodfarms.com

Admission: FREE

wagon2

If you are looking for a mellow time at a pumpkin patch and are not looking to spend a small fortune, this is the place to go. Admission is free which is AWESOME! The first thing that we did after we parked was collect a little red wagon to go on our search for the perfect pumpkin. My daughter jumped in her wagon and we took our time out to the pumpkin patch to check out the fenced in animals which included a donkey, a pony, some chicken, kittens, and bunnies! There is a corn maze for the little ones that seemed like fun. My daughter was a little small for that so we didn’t try it. Hay rides are an extra $3 but we enjoyed the walk out to the pumpkin patch. And she really loved picking out her own pumpkin.

 

3. Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch | 9057 Ute Hwy, Longmont CO 80503 | www.rockymtnpumpkinranch.com

Admission: Free | Activities: $1 per ticket
Weekdays: Self guided tours and Organic Farmers Market; Saturdays and Sundays: Fall Festival

If you want your sprightly toddler to sleep 12-13 hours at night then take them here during the Fall Carnival, which is every Saturday and Sunday through October 31st. My daughter had the time of her life with everything offered at this small and inviting ranch. We did it all!

train
Jumpy Castle – Check. Pony rides – Check. Petting Zoo – Check. Pick-a-duck for a prize (six times!) – Check. Barrel Train Ride – Check. Paint a Pumpkin – Check. Face Painting – Check. The only things we didn’t do were the things that she was too small to do, like ride the mini roller coaster. Parents beware: everything costs money. Rides typically cost three tickets ($3). Pony rides are five tickets. It all adds up quickly! I think by the end of my day at the Ranch I had spent $40! I was a bit surprised, especially at how quickly it went! But I felt like it was worth every penny. My two-year-old daughter had the time of her life!
Food: We brought a small lunch but we enjoyed some of the food from the food truck that was on site. I especially loved their fresh squeezed lemonade and snow cones. The downside to the ranch is that after 11am it gets REALLY busy. Be prepared!

Enjoy your October and if you know of any other awesome Pumpkin Patches, let me know – we are always on the hunt!