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Winter is coming

As a continued testing site, we are always looking for things to explore. A technology that has been around for years (and was seldom used properly) is programmable thermostats.

Programmable thermostats save money by saving the energy you use at home. I have always programmed my thermostats to be more cost effective when I’m away for the day or on vacation. Whether it’s to turn down the heat (to 58 during the winter) or turn up the a/c during the summer (to 85 as long as the cats are not in the house…if they are, 78 seems more reasonable).  A 7-day thermostat would allow me to program each day of the week separately. I would adjust the temperature just before I was to be awake, and again at bedtime with two more adjustments for my family’s work/school schedule and returning from same.  Some problems with all that programming is 1) it takes time, and 2) it doesn’t adjust for when someone stays home. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a big improvement over the old mercury thermostats which are neither programmable nor safe. If you still have a mercury thermostat, please consider alternatives — not only for your safety, but because bringing your technology into the 1990s could save you hundreds of Benjamins.

Welcome now to the world of smart thermostats….and the current century.

We’ve tested both the Lyric and the Nest and essentially they both work the same.  They are smart, meaning they “learn” your habits – like when you play hookie from work on Thursday nights to watch college ball – and can be controlled remotely since they are wifi based. These T-stats look great, are easy to install, and are actually easier to program than the old “programmable” thermostats. We like they look of the Lyric because it blends well with our decor, but the newer profile on the nest makes the cosmetic comparisons a wash.

Click HERE for a great CNET summary review of some fantastic options.

Winter is coming, my friend. Make your investment in a smart thermostat and you’ll be the one smarter (and richer) for it.

Deconstruction gets press

Friday, September 23, 2016

WestportNow.com

Our clients were interviewed and highlighted in WestportNow.com for their efforts to remodel sustainably. We’re honored to redesign their home to add the green features they want, yet with modern technology – making a classic home new again.

Read it HERE

Deconstruction v. demolition on a renovation

Dog days of summer are here…be a cool cat

A new graphic drawn by Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

I don’t know where the expression “dog days of summer” came from, but regardless…it’s HOT!

I grew up in the desert where we had an annual timed event around the anticipated hottest day of the year: cooking an egg on the sidewalk. Yes, they did cook…and it didn’t take too long. You can Google it!

Growing up in a hot climate we learned survival skills quickly. Shade is your friend. Reflection can be your friend too – as long as you’re not in a frying pan. As climate change deniers still exist (smh), one basic scientific fact remains – reflecting solar rays = cooler buildings. Consider cool roofs.

What is a cool roof?

“A cool roof is one that has been designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Cool roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles.

-US Dept. of Energy

According to the US Department of Energy, the benefits of installing a cool roof will:

  • Reduce annual airconditioning energy use of a singlestory building by up to 15%
  • Cool interior spaces, making occupants more comfortable
  • Reduce carbon emissions by lowering the need for fossil-fuel generated electricity to run air conditioner

Not to mention the potential of slowing global warming – because of the reduced fossil fuel use and all that it takes to retrieve it, refine it and burn it.

You can read more about cool roofs on the DOE website at http://energy.gov/energysaver/cool-roofs. They even have a nifty calculator to see your savings in actual numbers.

If your calling to book your roofer now, there may be things you should consider first. Things like the current life of your roof,  where you live, and planning  for future solar are considerations help you evaluate your ROI. Need more help? Contact us.

 

 

New tech home lab

My house is a lab for new technology. Before I recommend something I make sure it works…and it works well. I’ve just installed smart bulbs through out the house and compared the Philips Hue and the Cree smart bulb. For the record, I am a big fan of the Cree product line and have found their customer service to be outstanding.

Initially I found the Cree bulbs difficult to connect to the Philips Hue system, but after quick conversation with customer service I discovered I was out-thinking myself. It was actually really simple.

Both lights give off really nice light and the system connects to our Amazon Dot – giving complete control via voice command. It’s especially fun to put in the color changing bulbs, play prime musi and have a dance party. The system is also connected to my smart phone giving us the ability to shut off the lights from anywhere. This is especially nice after you’ve told the kids to go to bed for the third time.

Something to note for anyone that is looking into smart bulbs…there are different ‘systems’ that may or may not work together. Look on the box to make sure that the switches, bulbs and hubs all will work together. For those of us of a certain age – think Beta and VHS. The technology war has not been settled yet so make sure that whatever you decide to invest in, they are on the same protocol. Philips and Cree are both Zigbee and they work with Leviton and Wemo switches. Just check the bottom or back of the box and match the logos…like Geranimals (another antique term).

Here is a published review of the Hue that gives a great overview.

REVIEW: Philips Hue 2.0 w/HomeKit

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