Taking some simple precautions around the home can help keep your clients (and you!) safe during the holidays. Here are our top tips for the season:
- Use non-flammable decorations both indoors and outdoors.
- Check holiday lights for damaged wires and plugs. Enjoy indoor lights only while someone is at home and turn them off before turning in for the night.
- Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Dried-out trees are extremely dangerous and should be discarded immediately.
- Children should not have access to or be allowed to use matches, lighters or candles.
- Keep space heaters away from bedding, curtains, paper—anything flammable. Never leave a space heater unattended while in use.
- Busy with holiday cooking and baking? Kitchen fires are leading cause of house fires. Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach and know how to use it.
We wish you and your clients a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!
CO is an odorless, colorless gas produced by the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, oil and propane in devices including furnaces, water heaters and stoves. These appliances are designed to vent the CO to the outside, but incomplete combustion of fuel, improper installation, or blockages, leaks or cracks in the venting systems can cause CO to reach harmful levels inside the home. Dangerously high levels of CO can lead to incapacitation or death, with victims sometimes never having been aware they were being poisoned.
Homeowners can take action against carbon monoxide poisoning by taking the following steps:
- Never use a gas stove or oven to heat the home, even temporarily.
- Have all fuel-burning appliances professionally inspected annually, preferably before the start of the cold weather season when heaters and furnaces are first used.
- These appliances include gas stoves and ovens, furnaces and heaters, water heaters and gas clothes dryers.
- All such devices should be properly installed and vented to the outside.
- Have flues and chimneys for gas fireplaces inspected regularly for cracks, leaks, and blockages that may allow a buildup of CO to occur.
- Don’t start a vehicle in a closed garage or idle the engine in the garage even if the overhead door is open.
- Gasoline-powered generators and charcoal grills must never be used indoors.
- Install a CO detector (either battery operated, hard-wired or plug-in) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper location. Working CO detectors in residences are now required by law in most states.
- Learn what to do if the CO alarm activates. If anyone in the home experiences symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, or confusion, everyone should leave immediately and seek medical attention. If no symptoms are felt, open doors and windows immediately and shut off all fuel-burning devices that may be potential sources of CO.
Enjoy the comfort and safety of home this winter and all year long.
Given that as much as 25% of household energy costs go to heating water, it makes sense to evaluate various systems with an eye toward saving both energy and money. Here we take a look at some of the water heater options for homeowners to consider.
Storage (Tank) Water Heaters – These are by far the most common type of residential water heater. Once the water in the tank reaches the desired temperature, the heater cycles on and off to maintain the temperature of the water. Most of us know the phenomenon of running out of hot water after family members take one shower after another; this will happen if the tank’s storage capacity is insufficient to meet demand. Whether water is being used or not, the heater must still fire on and off to keep the contents of the tank hot. While tank heaters are an affordable option, it is quite inefficient to keep a tank of water hot all day.
Tankless (Demand) Water Heaters – Rather than being stored in a tank, water is rapidly heated by gas or electricity when the faucet is turned on. 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 systems normally cost more up front 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 – This uses the sun’s energy to pre-heat water for the home. The pre-heated water then flows into a solar tank that monitors temperature. Then it’s 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.
With efficiency and decreased energy use as a goal, the best choice of water heater depends on what pencils out in any given home.