We've already covered many aspects of home improvement tips in parts 1 and 2 of this home improvement series.
Everything from vinyl tile floors, wood paneling, creative ways to make extra storage space, wallpapering, and more has been addressed. If you've missed either of these two articles, you may want to take time to read them.
With winter drawing near, we now want to take a look at ways to get ready for the big chill. Making sure your thermostat is running at top efficiently and proper attic insulation will help ensure a lower energy bill this winter.
Like most mechanical devices, a non-programmable, old fashioned thermostat will need to be tuned up from time to time. A well-tuned thermostat will mean more uniform room temperature and a lower energy bill.
If temperatures in your home swing from one extreme to another, try the following:
1. Turn the power off at the service panel.
2. Take off the thermostat cover; some snap off, others unscrew.
3. Remove visible debris and clean contacts. The style of non-programmable thermostat will determine which cleaning method is best. Use a clean, soft brush to clean contacts on some models; a photographer's brush with a bulb for blowing air to remove dust is perfect. Some styles require you to turn the thermostat to the lowest setting in order to clean the contact; do this using a piece of thick paper. On round models, remove the body to reach the contacts; wipe contacts with a cotton swab that has been dipped in a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Once contacts have been cleaned, replace the cover.
4. Finally, check to make sure the thermostat is level. Set a level on top of the unit. Round models will have â€œearsâ€ to support the level, which are visible when the body is off.
Updating a non-programmable thermostat with a programmable model is an effective way to reduce heating costs. It can be set lower at night while everyone is tucked under blankets, sleeping. During the daytime it can be set higher to keep the house cozy and warm.
When both parents work and children are away at school, a programmable thermostat can really be indispensable. It can be set lower at night to conserve energy for a lower energy bill. Higher during early morning while the family is preparing for the busy day ahead. Set lower during day hours when everyone is away from the house; higher again mid afternoon just before family members are due home for a warm welcome.
Selecting a Programmable Thermostat
Exchanging an old fashioned thermostat for a programmable model is a great home improvement tip in and of itself. But, what model of programmable thermostat should you get? Several factors must be considered.
Select a model with features compatible with your needs and lifestyle. Decide how many cycles per day and schedules per week are required for your household. A model with a manual and vacation override is a good idea; select one easy to program.
Avoid models that are complicated with multi-features that far exceed your requirements. They can be confusing and cost more, and will prove less efficient as a result. Before making a purchase, however, check for system compatibility.
Installing a Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is not time-consuming. It only takes about an hour. However, the job may seem complicated or prove too nervy for persons not experienced working with electronic circuitry. If this is the case, you may feel more comfortable hiring an HVAC contractor for the job.
If you elect to do the job yourself you will need the following tools: a drill, a level, a screwdriver, a pair of wire strippers, and 2 pencils. Follow the directions below:
1. Turn off the power to the heating/cooling system at the service panel.
2. Unscrew or snap off the cover to the old thermostat; take off the unit's body.
3. Label the wire locations, and then disconnect them. To keep wires from falling into the wall cavity, wrap them around one of the pencils.
4. Strip about 3/8â€ insulation from the wire ends. If ends are corroded, clean them with steel wool.
5. Remove the pencil and slip the wires through the breastplate of the new programmable thermostat. Position the breastplate on the wall; use a level to insure it is positioned straight.
6. Mark placement for new screw holes. Remove the plate, drill the holes. Insert anchors; screw the plate in place.
7. Attach the wires to the new thermostat following the manufacturer's directions. When you are through, push the excess length of wire back through the hole in the wall.
8. Install batteries, if required. Snap the front cover in place. Turn on the power from the service panel.
9. Check the new thermostat's operation; program the unit and test it out.
If there is a problem, check the troubleshooting section of the programmable thermostat owner's manual, or call the manufacturer.
Attic Insulation Home Improvement Tips
Proper insulation is essential if you want a lower energy bill, especially for homes in colder climates such as Ontario, Toronto, and Alberta. And although insulating the attic might not be all that expensive a project, energy efficient house insulation can increase the market value of your home.
When working with insulation, always wear a hat, goggles, mask, and gloves.
Types of Attic Insulation
There are various types of insulation: fiberglass batts and blankets, loose-fill fiberglass, rock wool, and cellulose; polystyrene foam sheets, and urethane foam. Of these, four are appropriate for the average attic.
If you hire a home improvement contractor, your best choices for attic insulation are more varied. Loose-fill rock wool and loose-fill fiberglass both require a contractor. Both also provide better coverage and are more effective than batts over ceiling joists.
If you elect to do the insulating yourself, Fiberglass batts or blankets, and loose-fill cellulose are your best options. Fiberglass is economical, easy to install, and nonflammable. Its downside is that heat is lost through framing.
Loose-fill cellulose provides better coverage than batts over ceiling joists, and is easy to install in the attic. It is, however, a messy, dusty job.
Laying Fiberglass Batting
If you already have insulation in your attic, run batts over the tops of joists at right angles to the existing insulation. This will cover gaps in the first layer and insulate thermal bridges (heat escape routes) caused by the joists.
Work from the eaves toward the center. Use a plywood platform while working. If the batting you are using is faced, slash it every few inches so it won't trap moisture.
The floor above an unheated basement or crawl space can also be insulated using fiberglass batting. Fill spaces between floor joists with the vapor-retarder up against the floor. Hold the insulation in place using sturdy wire cut slightly longer than the width of the cavity between joists. Push them into place against the batts every 2 or 3 feet, bowing them upward.
Final Home Improvement Tips
Insulating the attic and floor over an unheated basement with fiberglass batts might be a project the average homeowners has the time and patience required to complete by them self. Other types of insulation, or insulation projects for other areas of the home such as crawl spaces and walls might be best handled from an experienced home improvement contractor.
Harsh weather elements, including freezing temperatures, humidity, and extreme heat require special methods and materials for effective insulation. An experienced home renovation contractor will know what techniques and materials to use.Posted by: TrustedPros