Cool Touch Blog: Archive for the ‘Home Improvement’ Category

Buyer & Seller Energy Audit Benefits

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It may be a well kept kept secret in the real estate industry.For a couple hundred dollars, a potential buyer thinking about writing a contract on an existing house can ask for a formal energy audit along with the standard inspection clause.

That audit, in turn, can save the buyer thousands of dollars in future operating costs, and pinpoint the specific features of the house that need correction to improve efficiency.

It might also be a tipoff to a sobering reality! This house is an energy guzzler. Either the asking price comes down, the seller fixes the problems, or I walk.

Though energy audits have been available to consumers for years the best known is the Home Energy Rating System, which virtually nobody in the real-estate field promotes them to buyers.

Of the 120,000 HERS audits completed last year in the country, according to experts, just 12,000 were done on existing houses. The rest were performed on newly built homes.

Since energy costs rank high on the list of ongoing expenses for many homeowners, and studies have demonstrated that energy-efficiency renovations more than pay for themselves in utilities savings, why aren’t more audits performed?

In an era of $4-a-gallon gas and autos marketed on the basis of their low fuel consumption, shouldn’t buyers know about the operating costs of the houses they are bidding on?

Shouldn’t energy-audit contingency clauses in purchase contracts be as commonplace as home-inspection clauses?

Realty agents who primarily list houses and represent sellers say buyers seldom ask for them. Nor do sellers, who prefer to avoid giving purchasers ammunition to make lower offers during negotiations or costly demands for repairs before closing.

Even real-estate agents who carry the “EcoBroker” green designation, described on the EcoBroker website as “the premier green designation for real-estate professionals”, don’t necessarily push the subject.

Frances Vernon, an EcoBroker with Dilbeck Real Estate Real Living in La Caqada, Calif., said she’s “never been asked by a buyer or seller” to order a HERS energy audit on a house. “It’s just not done here. It’s not a pressing issue.”

Of four EcoBroker designees randomly selected for interviews around the country, only one said he regularly recommends energy audits to both sellers and purchasers, and finds they help sell houses — even raise prices — rather than wrecking deals.

Leland DiMeco, owner and principal broker of Boston Green Realty, said that although not all clients opt for one, “I do bring it to the table” with everyone.

“It just makes sense. Most buyers want to feel comfortable that they’ve done their due diligence and know what they’re getting,” DiMeco said.

Even sellers are warming to the idea.

DiMeco recently made the pitch to a seller of an 87-year-old New England colonial that had significant energy leakage and efficiency problems.

The seller agreed to do a HERS audit, then spent money putting spray cellulose insulation in the attic, replacing the leakiest windows, upgrading interior lighting and replacing some low-efficiency appliances.

The result: Shoppers loved seeing the energy audit, the upgrades and the seller’s full disclosures.

The house sold six days after listing for $50,000 more than any nearby, energy-wasting comparables. Doing the HERS audit “turned out to be a great marketing benefit for the sellers,” said DiMeco, even though they needed some convincing up front.

Steve Baden, executive director of RESNET, the organization that trains and certifies inspectors conducting HERS audits, says that although the “adoption rate” on existing homes “has been low,” builders of new homes have been enthusiastic.

Forty percent of all new homes constructed in the country now get HERS audits and scores, he said.

About 4,000 auditors are certified to conduct HERS studies. They can be found along with information on contractors to do energy efficiency improvements at www.RESNET.us.

Equally important to homebuyers, said Baden: RESNET has negotiated agreements with two of the largest home-inspection networks to begin offering lower-cost energy efficiency surveys and performance audits as add-ons to standard inspections.

Once this becomes commonplace, there may be little need for separate contract contingencies for energy. Energy efficiency will just be part of the package.

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Ventilation Cleaning Offers Many Benefits

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

During the summers here in Phoenix,AZ, most people spend between 60-90% of their time in-doors trying to keep cool. While spending time in the cool air conditioning, people are breathing air that is being filtered through their vents by their A/C system. Sometimes we forget to take the time and think about cleaning these vents and how important it is to breath in clean air.

Over time, dirt, dust, mold, debris and even animal droppings can begin to build up inside your home’s ventilation system. This in turn can contaminate the air from your heating or cooling system, spreading airborne particles throughout your living area. These pollutants can cause a number of health problems including aggravating allergy and asthma related symptoms. The best way to eliminate this problem is through ventilation cleaning.

Ventilation cleaning should be done on a regular basis as a part of regular maintenance. Signs that your ventilation system may be dirty include visible dirt or mold inside your ductwork, signs of pests or rodents living inside your ducts and unpleasant odors or excessive dust coming out of your heating registers.

By cleaning your vents, this could cut back on these health ailments:

– Sinus Congestion
– Asthma
– Sore Throats
– Coughing
– Fatigue
– Congestion
– Eye, Nose and Throat Irritation
– Nausea

Hiring a professional such as Cool Touch to clean and inspect the ductwork in your home can help improve indoor air quality, allowing you and your loved ones to breathe fresh, clean air. Make sure that the company you hire to handle the ventilation cleaning is fully licensed and insured. Consider asking for references from past clients, as well. The last thing you want is to hire a company that leaves your home a mess, or worse, causes damage to your ventilation system.

Along with cleaning your duct work, you may want to have the company clean and inspect the components of your heating and cooling system. Removing dirt and debris at the source is the best way to prevent it from being spread throughout your home. Blower fans, evaporator coils and air filters are all common trouble-spots for pollutants. Typically, if your vents are dirty enough to require cleaning, the rest of your system will benefit from cleaning as well.

Ventilation cleaning is an important part of making your home a comfortable, safe place to live. Taking the time to improve indoor air quality can help you and your loved ones breathe a little easier all year long.

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Has Your Air Conditioner Quit on You in this Phoenix Heat?

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Here in Phoenix AZ we are hitting triple digit heat already and air conditioners all over the valley are breaking down. In this heat the last thing you want to see go down is your A/C as it’s the only thing keeping all of us sane during these summer months.

When temperatures reach 105-117 degrees your air conditioning unit works much harder to keep your home cool then it does when temps are in the high 80’s and 90’s. If your unit quits on you, for your own safety, you need cool air as soon as possible.

In previous blog posts we’ve touched on things to do in the event you here your system acting out of the norm and what things might be causing certain issues. because of the recent heat wave Phoenix has been experiencing, and for the safety of all our fellow Phoenicians, we want to go over a new “what to do” checklist in the event your A/C system calls it quits on you.

A/C Unit Check List in the Event of Breakdown:

1. Check your thermostat making sure it is in the “AUTO” position. If it is not, move it to “AUTO” and see if your system turns on.

2. Is the thermostat indicating a low battery? If you have a low battery symbol or your screen is blank, replace the batteries to see if that was why your unit was not working.

3. Check your circuit breaker to make sure it has not been tripped.

4. Check your filter. Clean you and replace your air filters if necessary. A dirty air filter can clog the system.

5. Inspect your unit if it is completely off, blowing hot air from your vents or making suspicious noises. When calling for repair it is helpful for the technician to assist you as quickly and efficiently as possible.

6. Turn your unit to the off position and Call Cool Touch (623)584-3762 for emergency service.

7. While the technician is dispatched, use the following tricks to stay cool:

A. Close your blinds and turn off your lights.

B. Avoid using appliances that produce high levels of heat.

C. Do-It-Yourself Air Conditioner: Blow a fan over a metal bowl of ice.

D. Drink plenty of cold water to keep hydrated and your body cool

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Your Home’s Air Ventilation and Air Quality

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Proper ventilation throughout your home is important. By ensuring that pollutants in your house do not accumulate to levels that cause health and comfort problems for your family can cut back on trips to the doctors office . One of the best ways to lower the concentration of indoor air pollutants is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming into the home through the use of mechanical ventilation.

There are numerous types of mechanical ventilation equipment available that can introduce enough fresh air to mitigate most IAQ problems. These products include everything from exhaust fans that intermittently remove air from a single room, such as bathrooms and kitchens, to central air-handling systems that continuously remove air from the home and then replace it with filtered and conditioned outdoor air.

The majority of homes in Phoenix,AZ do not have adequate ventilation. Most have unducted ventilation or inadequate ducted ventilation. This is a prime opportunity for professional contractors to help their customers clean up their air quality within their home.

The reason why most homes do not have adequate ventilation in Phoenix is because, in the past, building codes did not require ventilation fans if the bathroom had a window. Even if the local code required the installation of a bath fan, the fan only had to be a 50-cfm model which, in most cases, is not large enough to remove the moisture out of the bathroom. Most contractors are aware that ventilation is a key component in the overall IAQ equation, however, the issue is not always discussed with homeowners until a secondary condition arises due to improper ventilation.

For an HVAC contractor, talking about ventilation with your customers provides a huge opportunity for contractors as they can make sure that their customers are fully aware of the negative impacts of poor IAQ. By offering suggestions to the customer, such as the types of quality fans available that move more air, automatic operation such as humidity sensing, quieter fan operation units, and the types of units that produce greater energy-efficient operation in lowering electric bills, your customers will appreciate your efforts and the contractor will experience less call backs.

You can’t put a price on health and your customer will greatly appreciate this.

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