ABC Blog

Thermostat No-Nos

When you live in San Antonio, needing to run the AC isn’t a matter of if so much as when. However, running your HVAC system all summer long can put a lot of wear on the unit and leave you with a bill as likely to raise your temperature as the Texas heat. Fortunately, there are a few tips you can practice with your heating and cooling system that will have you saving energy and saving dollars all year long.

Don’t Freeze the Ghosts

If you’re not at home, there’s no reason to run your AC. Before you leave in the morning, turn the thermostat into the high 80s to keep it from cooling off your empty home. If you have pets, you might want to set it to turn on in the mid-80s just to keep the critters more comfortable. Program the thermostat to begin cooling your home about a half hour before you … Read Full Post »

Five Ways a Hidden Rodent Infestation Can Ruin Your Home—and Your Pocketbook!

mice are common winter invaders

From home repairs to hotel rooms and medical costs, hidden rodent infestations have hidden expenses for homeowners in Houston and across the state. Rodent dens that go unnoticed are more expensive and dangerous to remove than infestations that are uncovered quickly. Crawl spaces, attics and voids surrounding water pipes are prime real estate for rodents seeking a new home. Places that homeowners don’t inspect often are more likely to harbor unnoticed residents. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, most homeowner’s insurance policies specifically exclude damage caused by termites, insects, rodents and other pests. It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to correct any pest-related conditions and hire a pest control expert if necessary. Here are a few costly problems that can arise from hidden rodent infestations.

Electrical Damage

Rodents love to chew on wires, insulation and pretty much anything. Electrical damage caused by rodents isn’t just expensive. It’s dangerous. When mice, rats or squirrels … Read Full Post »

Hidden Dangers in Your Home: Outdated Breaker Panels

Most homeowners know where to find their circuit breaker panel or box, but not everyone is aware of how important this box is in your home. All of the electricity that is supplied to your home runs through that panel. The breakers are designed to automatically shut off in dangerous situations like an electrical short or overload. But some older panels may not have the same safety features that newer models have and can even make some electrical issues worse.

Most concerning is the fact that older panels can actually be a fire hazard. If an older panel is overloaded, it may generate enough heat to start a small fire. Electrical fires are notoriously difficult to put out, and a small fire can spread rapidly. Since most breaker panels are in garages or other remote locations in the home, a fire can get out of hand before it is even detected.

Older … Read Full Post »

Pests in the Attic

Animals and other urban wildlife are always looking for places to breed, store food and hide from predators. Unfortunately, some creatures may choose to take up residence in your attic. They use vents and other small openings to gain entry. Some of them stay inside the attic; others leave during the night to search for food.

An assortment of pests live in attics. They include various insects, rodents, birds and bats. Some raccoons and opossums also appreciate the shelter that an attic provides. Most of these creatures are nocturnal and can carry small parasites, such as fleas and ticks.

Pests often damage the attic and eventually harm other parts of the home. Rodents may chew on telephone or electrical wires. Some animals destroy insulation or air ducts. Raccoons can even tear holes through the roof. This kind of destruction may cause major water leaks or a fire.

Pests can also defecate and urinate … Read Full Post »

Home Invaders: Which Species of Roaches Infest the Indoors?

The hot, humid environment in Texas provides an ideal breeding ground for many insect species, including one of the most hated pests, the cockroach. Several roach species live primarily outdoors and go unnoticed due to their nocturnal habits, but some of these creepy insects enter the home and establish populations within walls or other dark hiding spots. Pest control in Houston is important for residents to eliminate and control these bugs that harbor inside buildings.

Common Roach Species in Houston

German cockroaches are the small species that cause the most problems indoors. Due to their ability to eat anything, hide in tiny crevices and breed at a rapid rate, Houston pest control companies utilize several tactics to eliminate these insects. German roaches live exclusively indoors while contributing to germ distribution, allergies and asthma. American cockroaches are startling when spotted because of their large size. Living both inside homes and outdoors, they are … Read Full Post »

Landscape Lighting Meets Efficiency and Practicality

Landscape lighting can add an elegant touch to an outdoor space, but many homeowners are unaware that this aesthetic feature can also offer functional benefits. Choosing lighting with high-tech features can boost the practicality of lighting and offer energy efficiency.

Energy Sources

Homeowners have a variety of lighting sources to choose from when shopping for outdoor lighting that can highlight beautiful landscaping. Buildipedia.com explains that there are three main energy sources when it comes to outdoor lighting: solar power, electricity and gas.

  • Solar power is energy-efficient because it uses the power of the sun instead of requiring a homeowner to pay for a power source. However, solar power is only reliable in areas that receive a lot of sun during the day on a regular basis.
  • Electricity is hard-wired to the home to provide reliable power, but this option can be expensive.
  • Gas is reliable and provides an aesthetic bonus by making outdoor lighting appear … Read Full Post »

Beware Counterfeit Christmas Lights!

As the holiday season approaches, many Texans will buy new Christmas lights. Sadly, there are a number of serious risks associated with purchasing and installing these decorations. Counterfeit holiday lighting products can cause fires and electrical shocks. Faulty power cords and slippery roofs add to the danger.

Dangerous Lights

Counterfeit Christmas lights usually have poorly manufactured wiring. Although the lights may function properly, the wires can overheat, melt or catch fire at any time. It is often difficult for shoppers to identify counterfeit Christmas lights. Fraudulent brand names, certifications and seals of approval appear on many of the packages.

A variety of retailers sell counterfeit Christmas lights. Some store owners aren’t aware that counterfeiters produce the lights. Such items remain common at discount shops, flea markets and online auctions. Occasionally, they also turn up at yard sales and thrift shops. Some vendors sell them on the street.

Non-counterfeit Christmas lights can also be dangerous. … Read Full Post »

Use Federal Energy Tax Credits for Solar Energy Systems

Converting your home to rely on solar energy helps reduce your impact on the environment while lowering the cost of your electric bill. In the long term, solar power will help save you money and secure sustainable and independent power for your home. It can be expensive to install, however, and this up-front cost is a deterrent for many people who are considering alternative power.

Fortunately, the federal government is helping to reduce the financial impact of Austin solar panel installation by offering tax credits. Until December 31, 2016, all homeowners who make the switch to solar power can enjoy a 30% tax credit with no upper limit. This tax credit applies to both newly constructed homes and upgrades to existing homes. In addition to photovoltaic panel installation, the tax credit applies to other solar upgrades, such as solar water heaters. Any energy-efficient change you make to your home can potentially … Read Full Post »

Houston is a Prime Target for Solar Power

During the summer, Houston can hit triple digit temperatures. Homeowners spend hundreds each month cranking up their air conditioners. Instead of purchasing electricity from the power company, homeowners can completely eliminate their utility bills by switching to solar power and upgrading their homes with energy efficient upgrades.

Cheaper Prices and Bigger Savings

Manufacturing costs associated with solar panels are dropping fast, and homeowners are reaping the rewards. Adjusted for inflation solar panels in 1989 cost $8.78 per watt in 2010 dollars, but the average price per solar panel in 2010 dropped to just $2.79, its cheapest price ever. In that same time period, photovoltaic panel shipments increased 100-fold.

Compared to fossil fuels, photovoltaic technologies offer a reliable and future-proof energy source. Since 2002, coal has nearly doubled in price while petroleum costs five times as much. If current trends continue, solar panels will cost about $1.00 per watt by the end of the … Read Full Post »

Houston Commercial HVAC Energy Saving Tips

Houston Commercial HVAC Systems

 A finely tuned commercial HVAC system works more efficiently and can save your Houston business from costly repairs. There are some free and low cost options for saving on energy and bills that you can implement easily into your business or facility. Some of those include:

 

  • Adjust workplace schedules to reduce energy use during the hours when there is most demand for electricity. If employees start work earlier or have lunch during the hottest hour of the day, a company can save on air conditioning, lighting and other electricity use during the hours of peak electricity demand.
  • Prevent solar entry and air-conditioning loss during the summer. Use shades and blinds to keep the sun out. Close doors to the outside to keep in cooler air.
  • Add controls to the exhaust fan. These fans remove air you have already paid to cool. Ask your air conditioning contractor to install timers and … Read Full Post »