portland home inspection: Great Question: turning the heat off? - 01/18/12 05:40 AM
Q- On cold days when I leave home, won’t it save more energy if I turn off the heat completely versus just turning it down?

Yes, turning your heat completely off saves more energy than turning it down. But we recommend 60 degrees as an energy-saving setback at bedtime or when you’re away from home for more than a few hours. Why don’t we say to turn it off? Because if you turn off the heat regularly, there is the potential you could end up with moisture or mold problems in your house, depending on insulation levels, the type of … (3 comments)

portland home inspection: Safety Tips for Pruning Season - 01/18/12 05:37 AM
Trees are dormant, but power lines are live — look up!

Gardeners are already looking out at their yards and plotting their moves for the new year. First up on the to-do list? Pruning. Now through late February is generally a good time for pruning because trees are dormant.
If you’re thinking about pruning any trees, it’s important to be very careful. The leading cause of accidental contact with power lines in Oregon is tree trimming or tree falling gone wrong.
How you can prevent dangerous accidents
Consider hiring a professional. Tree pruning can be hazardous. We often recommend that … (0 comments)

portland home inspection: Space Heaters: Buying and Safety Guide - 01/18/12 05:34 AM
How to choose, how to use, how to stay safe.

Electric space heaters can be a handy way to warm up a room without turning up the heat for your whole house. To help you keep costs under control and keep safe, we’ve put together this space heater guide.
How to use a space heater efficientlyEven though an electric space heater uses electricity, it can still potentially help you save on heating if used correctly. Follow these tips:
A space heater is designed to heat one space. Do not try to heat an entire home with a space heater. To … (2 comments)

portland home inspection: Better Bulb Choices - 01/18/12 05:31 AM
Bye-bye, energy wasters. Hello, savings!

Did you know that up to 90 percent of the energy used by an incandescent light bulb produces heat instead of light?
Congress has delayed enforcement of the planned phaseout of these watt-guzzlers that were slated to the way of the buggy whip. (You can read about delay in this story from The New York Times.)
But, even with that delay, there’s nothing stopping you from switching to more efficient lighting. It’s one of the easiest, lowest-cost ways to save energy. If you upgrade 15 of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could … (0 comments)

portland home inspection: Four High-Electric Bill Triggers - 01/18/12 05:27 AM
Learn what can make winter bills jump up — and how you can save.
Did your energy usage go up this month, and you’re wondering why? Here are a few things that can trigger a high bill this time of year and solutions to help you save
Trigger: Increased heating, including space heaters, due to colder weather.Solutions: Watch that thermostat! Keep it set no higher than 68 degrees. Each degree you lower the temperature saves about two percent on heating. Remember to turn it down to 60 degrees at bedtime or when you’re away from home for more than a couple of hours. … (1 comments)

portland home inspection: Holiday Safety Tip - 12/11/11 06:56 AM
Holiday Safety Tip Add safety checks to your holiday to-do list. Consider Carbon Monoxide (CO) Incomplete combustion of natural gas produces carbon monoxide (CO), which is an odorless, poisonous and potentially fatal gas. If you or other members of your household feel out of breath, dizzy, nauseous, and have headaches, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning – get fresh air immediately, then call NW Natural.
How to Prevent CO Poisoning
Make sure that all vents and chimneys are properly installed and inspected regularly for improper connections, visible rust or stains. Keep chimneys and vents free of debris, such as leaves, … (4 comments)

portland home inspection: When cooking, does starting with hot water save more energy than starting with cold? - 11/17/11 02:20 PM
When cooking, does starting with hot water save more energy than starting with cold?

You should only use cold water for cooking.
Water boils at 212 degrees F. So, if you start with hot tap water (120 degrees F, if you keep your water heater set to an energy-efficient setting), it will reach the boiling point a little faster than if you use cold water. But any savings there are probably offset by the energy lost as the hot water travels through pipe.
But the bigger concern is a health issue. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends you never … (7 comments)

portland home inspection: Emergency Checklist - 10/28/11 03:46 AM
Severe weather can damage power lines and cause outages — use this checklist to make sure you’re prepared.
Every household should have an emergency kit tucked into a cupboard in case of a power outage. Your kit should contain:
Flashlight Battery-powered radio, or a wind-up or solar-powered radio/flashlight combo Manual can opener Battery-powered or wind-up alarm clock Extra batteries (change batteries periodically — even unused batteries lose power over time) Car charger if you depend on a cell phone Other handy items to have:
Bottled water Sanitary water containers (if you rely on electricity to pump water) Thermos Disposable plates and … (1 comments)

portland home inspection: What is the best, safest way to use a power generator during a power outage — including how am I protected when power comes back on? - 10/20/11 03:37 AM
I'm glad you asked that question, since winter is on its way. Some people find portable generators to be a handy backup power source if a major storm causes widespread power outages. But generators can be hazardous if used incorrectly.

Here are some key rules to keep you safe:
Take the time to read the instruction manual. Always follow the rules in your generator’s instruction manual. It includes many important details that will help keep you safe. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Always operate a generator outside, away from windows and doors. Don’t get shocked. Use only an outdoor-rated, grounded extension … (1 comments)

portland home inspection: Learn how to manually turn off your home’s main natural gas line. - 10/12/11 01:03 PM
If you need to have your gas service turned off, call NW Natural and a technician will provide the service for you. However, should a situation arise where you need to turn off your gas supply immediately, please follow this simple procedure:
Locate the shutoff valve on the riser pipe from the ground to your meter (Figure A) or on newer meters the service line going from your meter into the house (Figure B). Use an adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench to turn the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the valve head is parallel to the pipe, it is in the OPEN position. … (3 comments)

portland home inspection: Do you really save energy if you switch to an electronic thermostat versus the traditional thermostat that is found in older homes? - 09/13/11 09:59 AM
Do you really save energy if you switch to an electronic thermostat versus the traditional thermostat that is found in older homes?

Since we’re heading into heating season, this is a great time to explore this issue.
The short answer is yes, you can save energy by upgrading your thermostat.
Why a manual thermostat is not your friendThere are a couple of problems with old, manual thermostats (the kind with a dial or a sliding lever). First, they are often not as accurate as new electronic models. That can cause wide swings in room temperatures or make your … (2 comments)

portland home inspection: What does ENERGY STAR® really mean? If all the appliances are ENERGY STAR, is there really a point to it? - 08/29/11 12:22 PM
Question: What does ENERGY STAR® really mean? If all the appliances are ENERGY STAR, is there really a point to it?

ENERGY STAR® is a joint program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy that’s designed to encourage energy efficiency for the home and for business.
Your question is a good one because we’re always encouraging customers to look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying appliances. But when you go to the store, it seems like all of the products have ENERGY STAR labels, right? Not quite. Many do, and that’s a good thing. It … (3 comments)

portland home inspection: Air Conditioning Question - 08/29/11 12:18 PM

Qustion: Other than setting the thermostat to a higher temperature, what is the most efficient way to use an air conditioner? For example, should I turn it on just when it’s hot, or cool the house before a heat wave comes so the AC doesn’t have to work so hard?
You’re on the right track for energy savings. If you set the thermostat to a higher temperature, you’ll use less energy. You’ll know what’s comfortable for you, but 75 to 78 degrees is a good, energy-efficient range. ENERGY STAR® recommendations suggest raising it 4 degrees at bedtime and 7 degrees … (1 comments)

portland home inspection: Housewatch: Air Conditioner Maintenance - 07/28/11 04:00 AM

Clean or replace the filter in the air handler regularly, not just for clean air, but also because the filter protects the heating and cooling equipment. Dust can clog the evaporator coil, reducing the heat transfer, efficiency, and life of the system..

Trim vegetation away from the condenser for free air flow. Do not enclose the condenser within the trellis or anything else that might block air flow.
Service the system regularly. Servicing is inexpensive and will increase the life and efficiency of the system. A technician typically cleans the condenser coils and checks the refrigerant pressures, adjusting the … (2 comments)

portland home inspection: Freshen Your Trash Can - 07/28/11 03:53 AM
One of the easiest places for ugly odors to collect and lurk is the frequently used kitchen trash can.Here are some ideas to bring a fresher scent into your kitchen.

Scent your trash bags. Soak a few cotton balls in your favorite essential oils and toss in your can for a refreshing smell. Replace when you throw out the trash.
Line it Taking out the trash will be less of a chore when you line the can with three bags. Lift out the garbage bag to have the new one instantly handy.
Sanitize the can. When cleaning your trash can, … (4 comments)

portland home inspection: Communication: Internet Personality - 07/28/11 03:51 AM
The image that represents you on a website, Facebook or Instant Messenger is called an “avatar”. Your avatar almost always represents your true personality. What does your choice say about you?

• Pet or favorite animal:
You are a youthful optimist. Looking at an adorable animal boosts moods, so when your friends see this avatar, they think of you as happy too.
• Family photo: You are a complicated empathy. A loved one’s image reveals how loyal and nurturing you are. It suggests you are empathetic and open-minded..
• Photo of yourself:You are open and extroverted. A real photo says … (1 comments)

portland home inspection: Inspection Insights: Central Air - 07/27/11 03:46 AM
Central air conditioning systems are a luxury in some areas of North America and a basic necessity in others. It is in your best interest to understand how to choose the right system for your home, and how to maintain it for optimal use.
The most common system is called a “split system” because part of it (the condenser) is located outside the house, and part (the evaporator) is located inside. The evaporator is mounted inside an air handler, a blower that circulates air throughout the house.
For forced-air heating, the furnace acts as the air handler. In these cases, the … (0 comments)

portland home inspection: Grass & Mud Stain Removal - 07/27/11 03:43 AM
Summer months spent outdoors invite mud and grass stains onto unwelcome places. Try these quick and easy ways to remove them.

Take it away with tape.
Adding water to a mud stain actually makes it worse. Instead, wait until it’s dry and place some packing tape over the mark to lift it away.
Use meat tenderizer..Dampen the grass stain and sprinkle meat tenderizer on the spot before tossing it in to the wash. Stains will magically lift away.
Make marks disappear.Before washing a grass-stained cotton or denim garment, apply rubbing alcohol to the mark, then soak in hot water to … (1 comments)

portland home inspection: Bedrooms Fit For A Dream - 07/27/11 03:41 AM

While the purchase of smaller homes is becoming more popular, large-scale master bedrooms continue to remain the-trend, as they offer a retreat from the real world. With these tips, you will be dreaming in your bedroom both dayand night.
Atmosphere- Leave the world and the items that remind you of it outside. The master bedroom should be clutter-free; offering a place to de-stress and find solace. Replace cell phones and computers, better suited to a home office, with candles and photos of loved ones.
Furniture- Keeping with the streamlined look, furnish the room with essentials only. An oversized bed with … (0 comments)

portland home inspection: Safety Sense: Water Damage - 07/27/11 03:38 AM
These days, homes are at a greater risk of water damage than ever before. Heavier precipitation and less predictable weather patterns increase the chance of unwanted water entering our homes.
Water damage is serious business. It is a drain – financially, emotionally, even physically. Just one inch is all it takes to destroy sentimental or irreplaceable items, or to create structural damage that can depreciate the value of your home. The bacteria and mold it can leave in its wake can affect air quality in your home and create potential health risks.
The best way to deal with water damage is … (0 comments)

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