Safety Tips For The Holidays

The holidays mean celebration, togetherness, and good cheer – but they also mean increased risk of crime and accidents. Here are some of our tips for ensuring you have a safe and happy holiday season:

Crime Prevention

If Santa can get down your chimney, thieves can be equally resourceful.

·Security lighting is the number one theft deterrent, so make sure your home has photo-sensitive lighting and that  entries and garages are well lit.

·Leave a television or radio on when you are not home so it seems the home is occupied.

·Do not throw the boxes for electronics such as home theater systems or computers on the trash because that is  a heads-up that you have something to steal. Instead break down the boxes and bring them to your local  recycling center or trash dump.

·Mark expensive gifts with a drivers license number or identification number and take photos of any fits that  cannot be marked with an engraving pen, such as jewelry. Do not use your Social Security Number.

·Leave lights on indoors and set them on timers so they turn on at night. Use CSA certified timers for exterior  lights.

·Do not leave displays of holiday gifts in view through the windows of your home.

·Criminals sometimes pose as deliverymen for gifts and as door-to-door solicitors for charitable causes. Always  ask for identification before allowing a stranger into your home. Do not make charitable donations at your door;  ask for the name of the charity and say you will make a donation on your own time. Then check with your local  Better Business Bureau to be sure the charity is not a scam. Only donate to recognizable charities because there  are online scams too.

·When shopping, always have your keys ready as your approach your car. It is preferable to go shopping with  someone else.

Fire Safety

·Check the wiring for holiday decorations to be sure they are not damaged or frayed.

·Always be sure to have a bulb in every outlet.

·Never connect more than one extension cord together.

·Keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal rain gutters.

·Use insulated tape or plastic connectors not nails to hang electrical decorations.

·Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.

·Be sure artificial trees are rated as fire retardant.

Drinking

·Never drive or allow others to drive when intoxicated, even a little. Only time will eliminate alcohol from the body,  not coffee or food.

·Eat before drinking, especially high protein food that will stay in your stomach longer and slow the absorption of  alcohol.

·Have non-alcoholic beverages available.

·Arrange to have a designated driver for your party who will take home inebriated guests.

Poisoning Control

·When having guests over, be sure to lock medicines away and put purses and coats in a separate room, away  from children, to keep them from “exploring” and accidentally ingesting medication.

·Take careful food precautions. Food may sit out on buffets longer than you expect, so avoid serving perishable  foods with mayonnaise sauces, fish, etcetera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The causes of high relative humidity in air-conditioned buildings

It can be very difficult, even for a pro, to track down the cause(s) of high relative humidity inside a home. A frequent cause is an improperly sized HVAC system. Your AC system needs to run long enough to pull moisture out of the air, not just cool it. So if your system is too big for your home, it will not run long enough and high relative humidity will result. Generally you need one ton of AC for every 600 square feet. Sizing a little small is actually better than sizing too big, and it will not be less energy efficient. It will have an easier time cooling and you will feel comfortable at higher temperatures, so you do not save money by increasing the AC tonnage.

Sometimes, after installing new hurricane impact windows, homeowners notice an increase in relative humidity. This occurs because the home is “too tight” and the AC is not running long enough. Your AC unit works by running so that the air passing by the cold coil condenses, thus dehumidifying the house. The AC needs to run at least 10 minutes to control humidity on a cold coil. If the house is very tightly built and insulated, and particularly if it has a lot of non-porous glass windows, it will not “breathe” and it will cool or heat faster than the AC system can pull moisture out of the air. This is compounded by moisture released from cooking and showering, as well as moisture trapped in carpet and wood paneling. In a very tight house, if it is 82 degrees outside, your AC won’t run very long to maintain a temperature of 76 degrees and you may have an issue with high relative humidity.

A leak in your ducts can also throw off your AC system.  In fact, a dirty AC filter can throw off your relative humidity, so that is one more reason to routinely change your AC filter on the first of every month. An improperly working thermostat can also be a culprit. There are also more serious situations, such as humid crawlspaces that release moisture up through a wood floor. This does not occur in the typical crawlspace, but can be an issue if there is a plumbing leak or other problem that causes ponding water.

A whole house dehumidifier system is a last resort in severe cases where the humidity hovers around 65% or more. However, such a system will be necessary to prevent the growth of mold and wood rot.  The cost to install a single whole house dehumidifier is around $1,700 in 2013, but will vary depending on the size of your home, the difficulty in removing debris, and the existing wiring in your home.

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The Top 10 Things To Know About Your AC

Your AC is an important part of your home’s comfort. There are a few simple things you can do to help your AC keep its cool in summer and its warm appeal in winter.

1. Change Your Filter: Yeah, you’ve heard it before. A dirty filter will reduce your AC system’s efficiency because trapped dirt reduces airflow. A dirty filter can also affect indoor air quality. The job of an AC filter is to rap dirt before it builds up on your evaporator coil and cause it to fail. Be sure your filter is the right size (not too small) and that is MERV 6 value or higher efficiency rating.

2. Service Your System Annually:  Every year, have a service tech clean the coil and drains, and check your system out. Many companies offer low rates for this service in the hopes of gaining you as a customer. Once a year, turn off the unit and spay the outside coils with a hose to remove dirt and leaves.

3. Check Your Ducts: Leaks in your ducts can reduce efficiency by 40% or more, causing your electric bill to soar. Many electric companies, including FPL, have a duct inspection and rebate program to repair or replace ducts. Seal leaky ducts and you can gain an up to extra half-ton of cooling and heating power from your AC.

4. Give Your Condenser Space: The outside part of your AC (the condenser) needs air to circulate around it to operate properly. Make sure it is not overgrown by bushes and that leaves are not clogging the vents.

5. Use Window Coverings: Heat-blocking drapes, curtains and shades reduce the load on your AC. Draw the drapes when you leave for work, and set the thermostat at 78 degrees. Drawing the drapes will keep the heat out, but during the winter leave them open. If your windows are leaky, keep the drapes pulled to keep the heat in when you are there. Weatherproofing windows and doors in one of the best ways to reduce your electric bills.

6. Keep Interior Doors Open: Your AC system is designed to work throughout your home. Closing doors to rooms you don’t use will not save money. It will throw your system off balance and make it more difficult for you to feel comfortable. Leave them open a foot or two.

7. Keep Your Thermostat Realistic: Lights, electrical appliances, etc. should not be near the thermostat because it can throw the gauge off. If your thermostat is in a hallway that is a lot cooler or hotter than the rest of your house, it will affect the accuracy of its readings.

8. Keep Registers And Vents Clear: Keep furniture, drapes and other objects away from registers and vents. Also do not close the vents completely in a room, for the same reason you shouldn’t close interior doors.

9.  Don’t Be In A Hurry: Setting your thermostat really low will not help it cool more quickly, not will setting it high make it heat more quickly. It will use more energy. Just set the temperature you want and be patient. Generally, a 1600 sq. ft. home will reach the right temperature in less than an hour.

10.  Use A Fireplace Screen: A lot of heat (and AC) goes up your chimney. Use a fire screen or insert to block airflow and cut down on electric costs. Keep the damper closed whenever you don’t have a fire.

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