Dial Down When Not Around

Many consumers have been slow to purchase a programmable thermostat. A recent survey showed that only 37 percent of homes use them.

Programmable thermostats may leave you cold (or warm), depending on the season. Some homeowners cannot face another technology learning curve, so its good to know that even manual thermostats can save energy.This can be done by simply dialing down( lower the temperature 5 to 8 degrees in the winter when the home is unoccupied). Similarly, the dial can be adjusted up 5 to 8 degrees in the summer as well.

But for the willing…and the brave…programmable thermostats offer additional energy savings and the chance to show this new technology who, exactly, is boss.

A programmable thermostat will adjust the indoor temperature according to pre-determined settings that take effect at different times of the day. They offer several advantages, including saving about ten percent on average per year from energy bills by automatically reducing indoor heating and cooling.

Most programmable thermostats come with pre-programmed settings, as well as the ability for homeowners to create their own settings. Wi-Fi connectivity  allows for remote control of the thermostat while smart thermostats will connect to a smart home platform. Other features may include touch pad screen programming, voice or phone programming, hold/vacation features, and even connectivity with mobile apps such as IFTTT( if this then that). IFTTT is an acronym for a technology that can actually adapt to changing conditions.

For example, homeowners can teach their thermostats to turn on away-mode when the front door is locked in the morning, or even turning on LED lights when the home is unoccupied.

To choose the correct programmable thermostat based on a homeowner’s needs, the first step is to evaluate schedules and routines. A seven-day model will provide the most flexibility and allow different programs to run on different days. A five-plus-two-day provides a five-day function with another for weekends. A five-one-one keeps temperatures the same during the week, and allows for variations on Saturday and Sunday.

Most units have an option to set different temperatures for different times of the day. For example, the heater can heat a room to 70 degrees at 4:00 PM then turn it down to 65 degrees at 10:00 PM. Many units allow changes up to four times per day for weekdays and two settings for the weekend.

While thermostats have serious work to do, they also have their lighter side. The latest thermostat designs have thinned down they are less noticeable, while others are made of metal for a more distinguished look. Other covers can be ordered with patterned or colored skins.


Thermal Imaging – What You Can’t See, Can Hurt You

Every home inspector employed at John Robinson’s Inspection Group, shows up to each and every home inspection equipped with thousands of dollars worth of home inspection tools to provide our San Diego and Southern California home inspection clients with the best home inspection services money can buy.  However, the one home inspection tool we would never leave our office without is our thermal imaging camera.  This one tool has allowed us to uncover hidden defects behind wall coverings, ceilings and floors that would have otherwise gone undetected.  We use this camera to locate hidden plumbing leaks, roof leaks, moisture intrusion, overheating electrical circuits and missing insulation that would not be visible with the naked eye alone or without destructive testing.

During a recent San Diego Home Inspection, a hidden plumbing leak was discovered only after the use of our thermal imaging camera or Forward Looking Infrared device.  If this leak would have been left undetected, it would have been conducive to the attraction of termites and mold growths and/or structural damage, potentially costing our clients thousands of dollars in repairs after moving into their brand new home.


During a recent San Diego Home Inspection, a hidden plumbing leak was discovered only after the use of our thermal imaging camera or Forward Looking Infrared device.

Stop Throwing Your Money Away!

Heat loss occurs more rapidly on homes that are poorly insulated.  This will lead to higher utility bills.  Here is a thermal image of the ceiling of a home we recently inspected here in San Diego that had a very large gap in the attic insulation.  The homeowner had no idea this condition even existed in their home because this was located in an inaccessible section of the attic space and could only be seen with our thermal imaging technology.  To ensure that your home is properly insulated be sure to thoroughly inspect the attic space and walls.  However, some areas will not be visible, so the use of equipment like our thermal imaging cameras may be needed to do a more thorough inspection.

Never Run Out Of Hot Water Again

A large part of my plumbing inspection is to test how well that hot water system is working throughout a home. If your water heater is too small for the home you live in, you may run out of hot water before it’s your turn to use the shower or take a bath. (I hate cold showers) Yesterday, as I was inspecting an 8400 SF home in Rancho Santa Fe, I noticed that this home was only equipped with one 50 Gallon AO Smith Vertex water heater. And guess what, after testing every sink, every shower, every bathtub, and running both dishwashers at the same time, I never ran out of hot water. Check out this short clip. It just might be the hot water solution for your home too. :)

How to be energy efficient and save money as the heat rises

With temperatures – and therefore, electric bills – rising, American homeowners are looking for the most effective ways to make the biggest dent in their energy bills, but many may be overlooking some of the most important energy-saving strategies.

Homeowners are more likely to do simple things around the house to conserve energy, according to the Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey. These steps include changing air filters in a heating and cooling system on a regular basis, swapping out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, and turning down the temperature setting on a hot water heater.

While these activities can certainly help save energy and money, Brandon Chase, an energy efficiency expert and product development manager at home heating and cooling manufacturer Lennox, says homeowners need to take a close look at how they heat and cool their homes if they truly want to make a substantial dent in their energy bills.

“More than half of a home’s energy costs comes from heating and cooling the house,” says Chase. “If you can heat or cool your home more efficiently, then you’ll be well on your way to seeing lower energy bills.”

The first step is to have a professional evaluate the age, performance and efficiency of your heating and cooling system to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced. The Lennox survey found that only about half of homeowners have taken the proactive step of replacing an old, inefficient heating and cooling system with a new, energy-efficient model, yet doing so can dramatically help conserve energy and reduce utility bills.

Chase says if the air conditioning system is more than 10 years old or the furnace is more than 15 years old – the average life spans of cooling and heating units – then it’s time to consider replacing the aging system with a new ENERGY STAR-qualified system.

New energy-saving technologies

Significant advances in energy-efficient technologies have recently enabled homeowners to save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills. One example is the SunSource Home Energy System – a solar-powered central heating and cooling system – that uses energy from the sun, collected from roof-mounted solar modules, to reduce the electricity consumed by a high-efficiency heat pump or air conditioner.

When the SunSource heating and cooling system is not in use, the solar energy can operate other appliances and electronics. Any excess energy that’s not needed is sent back to the utility company, possibly entitling the homeowner to a credit on their utility bill.

Other energy-efficient ways to cool and heat a home

In addition to replacing an old heating and cooling system, Chase says there are a number of other ways to make heating and cooling your home more efficient. He offers the following energy-saving advice:

* Seal cracks around windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping to prevent indoor air from escaping.

* Keep blinds, shades and curtains closed during the day in the summer to block sunlight from entering the home, but open them up in the winter to naturally warm the house.

* Install a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature at certain times of the day, automatically regulating the temperature when you’re away.

* Add extra insulation to the attic, which will help prevent your home’s heating and cooling system from having to work harder to regulate the indoor temperature. – (ARA)

For more energy-saving tips, visit www.lennox.com.