Tag Archives: energy

Winterize Your Home

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It may be Texas, but it’s still a smart idea to prepare your home for winter. Those who suffered through the hailstorm this last spring don’t need any reminders that sometimes the weather here can be unpredictable.

GUTTERS:  If you have gutters and downspouts you’ll want to make sure they’re cleared of debris. If they get clogged it can cause problems when it rains.

SPRINKLER SYSTEM:  Don’t forget to set your sprinkler timer to the rain or off mode for the season. It should retain your settings. However, do not unplug the timer or you will lose your programming.

FIREPLACE:  If you’re like most homes in South Texas, you don’t use your fireplace very often. Before using it, make sure to check that the chimney is clear of soot or creosote buildup and no little critters have set up house.

HEATER:  Time to test the heater, particularly since it hasn’t been run for 6 months. Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set at 80 degrees. The furnace should turn on and warm air should start blowing pretty quickly. Of course you probably know the drill, but it’s best to check it before you really need it. The only thing worse than no heater is no air conditioning! In truth, depending on how old your house is, it couldn’t hurt to have a professional check the system.

FILTER:  Replace that dirty furnace filter. Yup, it’s that easy. Oh, and don’t forget about your humidifier’s filter. Nobody wants dry, papery skin in the winter. Make sure your humidifier’s running at peak potential by cleaning the plates or pads.

STAY WARM:  Check for gaps and cracks around the window sills and doors. You’d be surprised how much you’ll save on your energy bill just by doing some basic weather-stripping and caulking.

FAUCETS:  Don’t forget the outdoor faucets or you could be in for a wild night. Make sure to close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets. Next, open the outside faucet to drain the line. There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to assist the draining. If you don’t have shut-off valves, and the faucets are not freeze-proof, think about getting styrofoam faucet covers, which can be found at your neighborhood Home Depot or the like.

INSPECT DETECTORS:  While you’re on a role, this is a good time to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them to make sure they’re working properly. Similarly, fire extinguishers should be checked, and if you don’t have one add it to the shopping list!

Once your current home is in tip-top shape, start planning for your future one! You can call us at 210-494-5400 to set up a free consultation. If you wish to be added to our private email list for our newsletter, please sign up here.

 

 

The Power of Solar for your Home

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We’ve explored various roofing options before in a past blog, but we wanted to go a little bit deeper into the amazing benefits of solar roofing, particularly if you live (or want to live) in San Antonio or the surrounding area. The market for alternative, renewable energy sources is growing rapidly and will likely only continue to gain momentum.

Not only is solar roofing a wonderfully green and eco-conscious option where you end up generating money instead of burning it, but locally, many electricity companies are offering consumers rebates when they make energy-saving improvements to their homes.

SAVE MONEY WITH SOLAR

CPS Energy, which services San Antonio, offers a rebate on solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight to electricity. Currently, the power company that services Schertz is also providing solar rebates to consumers.

In fact, these company offer a wide variety of rebates on things from pool pumps to air conditioners and new construction. While these rebates aren’t indefinite, it’s worth noting that rebates on solar roofs have been consistent. CPS even offers one for solar water heaters, up to $2,000. Energy Star estimates that you can reduce your electric bill by 50% when you switch to solar water heaters. For specific information on rebates, it’s best to contact the companies directly for details.

SOLAR SHINGLES vs. PANELS

Solar panels have been around a lot longer than solar shingles, which first came into use in 2011. Shingles are installed similarly to asphalt shingles and, in fact, replace the asphalt shingles where they are installed, which can result in modest savings.

Solar shingles can be installed on various types of roofs and most people find them much more aesthetically pleasing than the somewhat bulky appearance of panels. However, panels are considered to be a touch more efficient than shingles, but not by much. Currently, the conversion efficiency of shingles is 19.9% while panels are 20.3%.

OTHER BENEFITS OF SOLAR

-          The financial rewards are by far the best reason to install a solar roof. In case it wasn’t clear, not only do you save money using solar, but if the conditions are right and let’s face it they are in South Texas, you may even start receiving a check from your energy company after a while.

-          Over the long run, a homeowner might save $20,000 over a 20 year time period with a solar roof, at least that’s the national average. In Texas, it will be more like $30,000.

-          Using solar power is a reliable, secure and independent resource that cannot be controlled by a company or agency, which is why even the military is working to install solar power systems.

-          Interestingly, solar power creates jobs. As an energy source, solar power creates almost three times more jobs than money invested in coal or natural gas.

Besides the cost of initial installation, the disadvantages of having a solar roof are virtually non-existent. If this is something you’d like to consider for your new custom home, give us a call at 210-494-5400.

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Easy Home Maintenance and Energy-Saving Tips for Winter

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People often forget the importance of winterizing their homes, especially in San Antonio where we sometimes enjoy 80 degree weather in January, like we have already in 2015. Still the weather fluctuates and it’s best to be prepared for the temperatures to drop again. Regular maintenance of your home keeps your house in tip top shape and helps you save money in the long run. Here are a few smart tips on easy things you can do to guarantee the efficiency and longevity of your beautiful home:

  • Set Your Ceiling Fans to Run Clockwise. By moving the hot air towards the floor you’ll save money on your energy bill.
  • Replace Filters. We often forget to do it, but it’s a simple and inexpensive way to save money and protect your heating and cooling system.
  • Insulate Cracks in Doors and Windows. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 30% of energy is wasted due to drafts. This will also help you save money in the summer months as well. Consider installing storm doors and windows, using window insulation film or, in a pinch, rolled up towels or scraps of fabric to block out drafts from underneath the doors.
  • Flush Your Water Heater. At least once a year, you should flush the build-up of sediment that collects in your water heater to maximize your unit’s efficiency. A build-up of hard minerals is a problem in South Texas and could result in expensive repairs or replacements. It’s also a good idea to lower the temperature on the water heater to 120 degrees F. If you’re considering transitioning to tankless water heaters, check out our recent blog to learn more.
  • Programmable Thermostat. Many people have these already but don’t use them. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you save up to 3% on your energy bill. Programmable Thermostats do the work for you, so you don’t forget to adjust the temp during the day when you’re not at home and at night.
  • Keep Your Gutters Clean. We don’t generally see much ice and snow, but allowing water drainage to flow freely not only avoids ice dams but prevents potential water damage during torrential rainfalls, which we are quite familiar.

 

You can also avoid all the messy hassle of winterizing an old home and consider a fresh start with a brand new custom built home from Stone Creek Custom Homes. We’re here when you’re ready! Call us at 210-494-5400.