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9 Energy Saving Tips for Spring

Spring can be a transition season: a good time to clear out the effects of winter and look at what needs to be made ready for summer.

Here are nine things you can do in the spring to make you home more energy efficient:

Spring-cleaning

Spring-cleaning involves making sure all the fans in your home are working properly and are dust-free. Regularly wash or replace filters.
Change the airflow on your ceiling fan

Make sure you change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fan. In the winter, let the fan push warm air toward the floor and in summer, switch the direction and draw air upward, cooling the room and ensuring constant airflow.

Insulated, thermal-backed drapes

In preparing for the summer, consider investing in some insulated, thermal-backed drapes for your windows.
Air conditioning system

Before buying an air conditioning unit or system, find out its energy efficiency ratio (EER). Calculate the EER by dividing the unit’s cooling capacity (BTU’s/hour) by its … Read Full Post »

Keeping Rodents Out During Winter Months

Winter weather has pest rodents on the move. Rats and mice may seek food and shelter indoors in your home or place of business, causing damage and spreading disease. Here are some Rodent Action Tips to prevent rodents from setting up a permanent residence and to reduce the risk of disease:

1) SEAL UP

Seal up any openings or cracks large enough to squeeze a pencil through to keep rodents out. Steel wool and caulk are good for blocking small holes. Sheet or lath metal, hardware cloth or concrete can cover larger holes.

2) TRAP OUT

If rodents have already moved in, use ‘green’ methods such as snap traps or glue boards when appropriate. Traps can be baited with peanut butter and placed in areas where rodent droppings are found.

3) CLEAN UP

Minimize places for rodents to live by removing trash and debris from inside and outside the home. Eliminate potential rodent food sources by … Read Full Post »

Rodent Prevention Tip: Clean Up Food!

Clean up rodent food sources and nesting sites

Keep food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.

Eliminate possible rodent food sources:

  • Keep food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids.
  • Clean up spilled food right away and wash dishes and cooking utensils soon after use.
  • Keep outside cooking areas and grills clean.
  • Always put pet food away after use and do not leave pet-food or water bowls out overnight.
  • Keep bird feeders away from the house and utilize squirrel guards to limit access to the feeder by squirrels and other rodents.
  • Use a thick plastic or metal garbage can with a tight lid.
  • Keep compost bins as far away from the house as possible (100 feet or more is best).
  • Keep grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids. In the evening, uneaten animal feed should be returned to containers with lids.

If storing trash and food waste inside the home, … Read Full Post »

The Basics of Wasp & Bee Control

Wasps and bees are beneficial insects, although they are generally considered to be pests because of their ability to sting. Wasps, in particular, can become a problem in autumn when they may disrupt many outdoor activities. People often mistakenly call all stinging insects “bees”. While both social wasps and bees live in colonies ruled by queens and maintained by workers, they look and behave differently. It is important to distinguish between these insects because different methods may be necessary to control them if they become a nuisance.

APPEARANCE

Wasps have a slender body with a narrow waist, slender, cylindrical legs, and appear smoothed-skinned and shiny. Yellowjackets, baldfaced hornets, and paper wasps are the most common types of wasps encountered by people.

Bees are robust-bodied and very hairy compared with wasps. Their hind legs are flattened for collecting and transporting pollen. Bees are important pollinators. Honey bees are responsible for more than 80% … Read Full Post »

Rodent Prevention Tip: Seal Up Holes!

Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a nickel, and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a half dollar! Prevent rodents from entering the home by checking inside and outside the house for gaps or holes.

Where to look for gaps or holes inside your home:

  • Inside, under, and behind kitchen cabinets, refrigerators and stoves.
  • Inside closets near the floor corners.
  • Around the fireplace.
  • Around doors.
  • Around the pipes under sinks and washing machines.
  • Around the pipes going to hot water heaters and furnaces.
  • Around floor vents and dryer vents.
  • Inside the attic.
  • In the basement or crawl space.
  • In the basement and laundry room floor drains.
  • Between the floor and wall juncture.

Where to look for gaps or holes outside your home:

  • In the roof among the rafters, gables, and eaves.
  • Around windows.
  • Around doors.
  • Around the foundation
  • Attic vents and crawl space vents.
  • Under doors.
  • Around holes for electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines.

Fill small holes with steel wool. Put caulk around the steel wool to keep … Read Full Post »

EPA Duct Sealing Tips

WORKING WITH A CONTRACTOR

Many homeowners choose to hire a professional contractor for duct improvement projects. Most heating and cooling equipment contractors also repair ductwork.

Look for a contractor that will:

  • Inspect the whole duct system, including the attic, crawlspace, garage and basement as needed.
  • Evaluate the system’s supply and return air balance. Many systems have air return ducts that are too small.
  • Repair damaged and disconnected ducts and straighten out flexible ducts that are tangled or crushed.
  • Seal all leaks and connections with mastic, metal tape, or an aerosol-based sealant.
  • Seal all registers and grills tightly to the ducts.
  • Insulate ducts in unconditioned areas with duct insulation that carries an R-value of 6 or higher.
  • Include a new filter as part of any duct system improvement.
  • Evaluate air flow after repairs are completed.
  • Ensure there is no backdrafting of gas or oil-burning appliances, and conduct a combustion safety test after ducts are sealed.

KNOW YOUR DUCTS

In houses with forced-air heating and … Read Full Post »

Why Choose a Certified Arborist for Tree Services?

Why Hire A Certified Arborist?

The tree service industry is replete with all kinds of characters whose knowledge about trees ranges from laughable to fanatical. At the top tier of the industry stands the Certified Arborist. There are many tree services that have nothing to do with the International Society of Arboriculture and its certifications. Some of them even do a good job. The odds of getting high quality tree care go up when a Certified Arborist is employed. The certification shows a level of dedication to the industry that may be lacking otherwise.In order to test to become a Certified Arborist you need three verifiable years in the tree care industry and a Certified Arborist who is willing to sign off as your sponsor. A few caveats are in order here: There are many Certified Arborists whose knowledge of even the basics are lacking, i.e. they couldn’t even make a … Read Full Post »

Ants: Treatment Overview

Ants have become the number one pest in homes and structures around the country. Central Texas has several types that are common invaders – Fire ants, carpenter ants, sugar ants, rover ants, pavement ants, acrobat ants, leaf cutter ants and many more. Ants can cause damage to lawns, plants, wood and food. Some can bite and sting causing health problems. They are very resourceful and can adapt to changing environments. Their populations can explode in short periods of time in and around your home. They can be very difficult to control without knowledge of the biology of the particular ant your dealing with. It is common to have problems with several different types of ants at one time.

ABC will send out a licensed inspector to determine which types of ants are currently invading your home and property. They will inspect and identify conditions conducive for ants as well as assess … Read Full Post »

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed on blood, principally that of humans, by piercing the skin with their elongated beaks. Although they inflict misery on their victims, it has never been proven that bed bugs carry disease-causing pathogens in the United States.  Bed bugs are spread chiefly by the clothing and baggage of travelers, secondhand beds, bedding, furniture and laundry.

 

A mature bed bug is a dark brown, wingless insect.  Its size and color depend on the amount of blood that the body contains.  An unfed bed bug is between 1/4 and 3/8 inch long.  The upper surface of the body has a flimsy, crinkly appearance.  When engorged with blood, the body becomes elongated and swollen, and the color changes from brown to dull red.  Bed bug eggs are white and about 1/32 inch long.  Newly hatched bugs are translucent and nearly colorless, but similar in shape to the adults.  As they grow, they molt … Read Full Post »

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are a vital part of home safety. If installed properly, breakers perform a vital function in protecting your home or commercial facilities electrical system.

All circuits are controlled and protected by the circuit breakers.  If there is an overload, short or ground in the circuit, the breaker will detect the fault and open (kill) the circuit.  The purpose is twofold: prevent fire; prevent electrical shock.  

TROUBLESHOOTING BREAKERS AND CIRCUITS

One of the most common situations occurs when the electricity goes out in a certain area of the home but the breaker doesn’t seem to have opened the circuit. A breaker switch can sometimes open a circuit without its mechanical handle flipping off. You should first try to manually switch the breaker off and then back on. It’s also possible the current was interrupted somewhere other than the breaker due to faulty wiring. In this case, an electrician will probably need to … Read Full Post »