House Call Company Blog: Archive for February, 2015

What is a Tankless Water Heater and Should I Get One?

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Whether your current water heater has broken down completely and now just sits dormant in your basement, or you’d like to avoid a complete breakdown and are committed to finding an energy efficient alternative to tank water heating, the tankless water heater offers many benefits. If you’ve seen a bit about this technology online, then you may still be wondering how it works and why you might want to consider getting one. We’re happy to help you with the brief guide below.

So, what is a tankless water heater? It’s best to begin by knowing how a conventional tank water heater works. These function by heating a large amount of water in a lined cylindrical tank. Your water is kept at temperature by a heat exchanger at the bottom of the tank, and your hot water is sent to whatever appliance or fixture calls for it. This is the standard, and it’s been in use since the inception of the residential water heater.

A tankless water heater, as its name suggests, foregoes the use of a large storage tank entirely. Instead, it heats your water on-demand, and is therefore also referred to as an on-demand water heater. It does by means of a high-efficiency copper coil exchanger that runs on either electricity or natural gas. The entire device is relatively compact, and its rectangular frame is typically installed directly on a wall. Larger homes with many fixtures, appliances, and family members may require more than a single unit to cover their hot water needs.

The benefits of the tankless system are clear enough. While storage tank water heaters suffer from standby energy loss, tankless systems do not, and this ensures that they are highly energy efficient. While the cost of the tankless system may be slightly higher upfront (depending on the make and model, of course), the long-term savings can really pay off.

Let us provide you with an exceptional tankless water heater installation. We’re also happy to answer any questions that you might have if you’re not quite ready to commit to a new system. Call our plumbers today.

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Top Five Tips to Improve the Comfort Level of Your Home

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

The cooler weather in Hampton Roads has many homeowners looking for ways to improve the comfort of their home. Luckily, our experts have compiled a list of the top five tips to improve a home’s comfort level this season.

  1. Air Seal and Insulate the AtticFamily sitting in living room smiling

    Did you know that over 40 percent of energy loss is through the attic? Your home has dozens of holes allowing air to escape. Air sealing all penetrations to the attic and adding insulation keeps the heat you are paying for inside the home.

  2. Seal and Insulate Ductwork

    A home performance contractor can help assess the home to discover issues that may make it drafty and uncomfortable. One of the biggest energy wasters is duct work leakage. Having well-sealed and insulated duct work is essential to the efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling systems.

  3. Improve Heating and Cooling Systems

    The age and condition of a furnace or air conditioner can impact its efficiency. Installing a unit that allows the air to evenly distribute throughout the house is crucial to creating a comfortable home.

  4. Replace Windows

    New windows can make your home more comfortable and quieter, while offering substantial energy efficiency and savings. Since 80 percent of a window is made of glass, a significant amount of heating and cooling savings comes from improved glass performance, according to Window World®.

  5. Utilize Do-it-Yourself Tactics

    Homeowners can improve the comfort level of their home through a variety of DIY projects. For example, weather-stripping and/or caulking all areas of noticeable leaks around windows and doors with a draft; or installing plastic thermal covering on windows. It can be a simple project like opening up drapes and shades on sunny days or a larger project like changing the color of the home’s exterior to one that doesn’t absorb solar heat.

When looking to improve the comfort of your home, working with a trained professional is the best approach. They can provide you with recommendations based on a careful analysis of your home and can help you get answers to your questions.

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The Benefits of the Ceiling Fan

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

If you own a home, then you probably also own a HVAC system that provides you with year-round heating and cooling. It’s important to make sure that your home’s energy efficiency and the HVAC system are optimized to make sure that you and your family are consistently comfortable throughout the year. The ceiling fan adds another option for improvement. It’s not just for homes that do not have heating and cooling systems, but rather for homes whose owners want to ensure that their bills are reduced to an absolute minimize and that their comfort is maximized.

There are various benefits to considering the ceiling fan. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular reasons to install a ceiling fan in your home.

  • There is a difference between the temperature and your comfort, and we’re often surprised to find a discrepancy between what the number on the thermostat states and how we feel. The principal means by which our bodies cool down is by perspiration, and this can be accelerated by constant airflow. That’s exactly what a ceiling fan provides. They can boost your comfort dramatically.
  • Energy efficiency. Is cutting energy costs important to you? It likely is. Energy efficiency has become one of the most-discussed topics during the last twenty-five years, and the technology continues to improve. While fans are not exactly new, they remain one of the best ways to reduce the amount of work that your HVAC system has to do to keep you comfortable. By ensuring that your heating and cooling is spread evenly throughout the home, you can then adjust the thermostat accordingly.
  • Air flow. Many customers just like to have air flowing throughout the home, especially during the summer. Whatever the layout and size of your home may be, a ceiling fan or several of them can keep the air freshened. It’s particularly useful in homes with large front rooms or high ceilings.

Contact our electricians today to learn more about the range of ceiling fans available on the residential market. We install and service them.

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House Call Company Announces January’s Employee of the Month

Monday, February 16th, 2015

When Mike Marable was asked to attend a corporate training event for the House Call Company, he had no idea what he was signing up for! In front of the entire House Call Company family, he was presented with a certificate highlighting his exceptional service on January 30, 2015.

Marable, a 20-year-industry veteran, was selected as the House Call Company’s employee of the month for January for his outstanding customer service and representation of the company’s core values. He consistently receives exceptional reviews from customers, builders as well as his coworkers.

As noted by one pleased client in a recent review, “Mike Marable is very knowledgeable and very helpful,” said Justin. “House Call Company is great. They are a very professional group of people that help us ensure well insulated, energy tight homes!”

Marable is the House Call Company’s HERS Field Rater handling all third party certifications in Richmond, Virginia. He lives by the philosophy that ‘customers are family’ and will do anything to take care of them.

He has been married 28 years to his best friend, and beautiful wife, Cherl. They have two lovely daughters and one precious granddaughter. In his spare time, Marable love to fish for anything that swims!

We thank Mike for all his hard work and contributions to the success of the House Call Company.

 

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Some of the Unusual Movies Released for Valentine’s Day

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Hollywood has always tried to match movies up to the seasons to draw droves of viewers to the theaters: October is packed with fright-offerings, while the winter holidays skew toward warm and pleasing family films (as well as Oscar hopefuls). Valentine’s Day falls in an odd spot when it comes to the movie release calendar, however, since February tends to be a slower time for the film industry. The studios are as likely to slot strange movies that don’t fit anywhere else in their annual schedules into the Valentine’s Day weekend as they are films with powerful romantic appeal.

So, while the second weekend of February has featured hugely successful romantic comedies like Hitch, The Wedding Singer, and (of course) Valentine’s Day, some truly weird choices have debuted in this weekend as well. And a few have even gone on to tremendous success despite the bizarre match with the holiday. Here are a couple of the odder Valentine’s Day movie releases:

  • Dracula (1931): Yes, this Halloween perennial and the start of Universal Studio’s Classic Monsters actually came out on Valentine’s Day! But perhaps this makes some sense, as the Dracula legend has often received a “doomed lover” approach in the many years since Bela Lugosi made the aristocratic vampire a screen icon.
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991): Does any film seem less appropriate for Valentine’s Day than this unnerving and sometimes very violent psychological thriller? What’s even more astonishing than the film’s release date is that The Silence of the Lambs eventually nabbed the Oscar for Best Picture, an almost unheard of occurrence for a movie released so early in the year.
  • Daredevil (2003): This Marvel comic adaptation featuring Ben Affleck as a blind superhero does contain a romantic subplot, but the stronger connection to Valentine’s Day may just be that Daredevil wears a bright red costume.
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): The least successful of the Die Hard film franchise, this is an excellent example of a studio dropping a film into a weekend where it doesn’t fit in the hopes that it works as counter-programming. (It didn’t.)
  • Wayne’s World (1992): Now here is an example of counter-programming that clicked with audiences. This comedy based on a Saturday Night Live sketch turned into one of that year’s biggest hits and spawned a sequel.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to the movie theater, or you have your own special plans, everyone here at House Call Company hopes you and your loved ones have a wonderful weekend.

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How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality: A Brief Guide

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Today’s homes are tightly sealed against the outdoor elements. The primary reason for this is energy efficiency. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to use a whole house heating and cooling system in a drafty house—you can only imagine the energy costs during the winter and summer. An unfortunate consequence of a tightly sealed home is that the indoor air quality can truly suffer. Not only might your humidity level fluctuate from extreme to extreme, but you may also find that your indoor air has numerous airborne contaminants and pollutants floating throughout your living space.

Because we can’t depend solely on natural ventilation to ensure that we have fresh air in the home, it’s important to take stock of our homes’ indoor air quality from time to time. Fortunately, there are numerous products available that integrate directly into the ductwork to ensure that your entire indoor air space is cleaned. Here are just a few options to consider.

  • Air Purifier. While you may have used a portable air purifier at one time or another, they can hardly compare to whole house units. Whole house air purifiers fit directly into your ductwork, and they come in various types, including UV air cleaners that use ultraviolet light to destroy biological contaminants as well as air filters that catch particulates as they pass through the ductwork.
  • Humidifier/Dehumidifier. Controlling your humidity is easy with a whole house dehumidifier or humidifier. These systems avoid the constant maintenance and limited coverage of portable models to ensure that your entire home space is comfortable. Both overly dry and moist air can be problematic, both in terms of your own comfort as well as in terms of potential long-term damage to sensitive wooden furnishings and flooring, among others.
  • Air Duct Cleaning. If you’ve never had your air ducts cleaned before, you may be in for quite a surprise. Because the interior of your ductwork is hardly accessible, it can be difficult to see what’s in there. When dust, dander and other debris accumulate within, you may find that your indoor air quality suffers as a result. Professional duct cleaning is a great way to boost your indoor air quality.

Contact the friendly professionals at House Call Company today to get started.

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How to Improve Your Home’s Electrical System

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

The electricity running throughout your home is a modern amenity it would be difficult now to do without. It would be hard to go back to pre-electrified life, and there’s no reason to do so. In fact, there is every reason to consider upgrading your home’s electrical system not only to make it more energy efficient, but also to ensure that you and your family are using electricity safely and appropriately. Considering just how much you use electricity to power appliances, to charge portable electronic devices, to be able to see in the dark, and to alert you in the event of fire or carbon monoxide, it behooves you to consider improving the system.

To do so, you need a professional electrician. This really should be your first step towards addressing any electrical upgrades or improvements. Let’s take a look at some common options that homeowners often go for.

  • Ceiling and attic fans. If you want to make sure that your home is highly energy efficient year-round, then you should consider a ceiling or attic fan. One or more ceiling fans in the right locations can lead to outstanding airflow, which can reduce the cost of heating and cooling. There are plenty of options for various budgets and aesthetic preferences out there. An attic fan ventilates your attic during the hottest part of the year, thus cutting down on air conditioning costs.
  • Replace your smoke and CO detectors. Remember that your smoke and CO detectors do not last indefinitely. They have expiration dates, and it’s important that they be up to date so that they work well should the need arise. While they may never go off, it’s important that they be perfectly integrated into your electrical system with battery back-ups. You may also wish to have them periodically inspected.
  • Backup generator. If there is one way to substantially improve your electrical system, it’s with a whole house generator. If you don’t already have a backup power solution, it’s critical that you consider getting something. The loss of power can lead to all sorts of inconveniences and uncomfortable situations.

Let our electricians know what you need. We provide a number of different electrical solutions and we can make sure that your home is outfitted with a safe and effective electrical system. Call today.

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