My heat is robbing me – help!

My heat is robbing me – help!

 

There’s a price to pay for a cozy winter. As we watch the snow falls romantically and kick our feet back in our warm, cozy home, we can feel the pinch in our pocketbooks from rising energy bills as well. According to the Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for 56% of the energy use in a typical home! Therefore, it is so important for us to take the steps to save on winter heating bills.

Check out our money-smart ways to bundle up your home this winter!

1. Insulate, insulate and insulate!

ioninsulate

Find out how much insulation you already have in your home and WHERE it is. Make sure your home is properly air sealed as well. Most houses leak and attic doors are one of the biggest offenders. Read this before you insulate your attic. The Department of Energy can get you started with its ZIP Code Insulation Calculator.

How much you’ll save: 20-30% off your monthly bill with return on investment in as little as one year.

 

2. Let your thermostat be the boss

thermostat

Teach your thermostat how to save money and let it run your house – you can save at least 10% on your heating bills! If you don’t have a smart-phone operated thermostat, simply adjust 10 to 15 degrees cooler for the 8 hours you’re at work. If you can take it, cut it back even more during the 8 hours when you sleep and you could even save 20% more!

We strongly advise you to get a smart-phone operated/programmable thermostat to save your bills in the long run. Imagine being able to control the temperate of your home on your phone anywhere you want. Our home monitoring program for only $14.95 a month gives you the ability to monitor and control your home (from water shut offs, door locks to thermostats). You can also get a FREE programmable thermostat through MassSave*

*after redemption

How much you’ll save: 10-20% off your monthly bill

3. Dial up your hot water setting

water heater

    Water heater account for 14 to 25% of monthly energy bill because they are on 24/7 and factory-set at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of us can live comfortably with 120-degrees water and save 3 to 5% on water heating costs for every 10 degrees of setback.

If you are looking for long term savings, reduce hot water use with low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, “jacket” the heater and wrap hot water pipes to minimize stand-by heat loss, and install a timer to take advantage of cheaper off-peak power.

For greater savings, ditch the tank entirely and invest in an energy-saving, on-demand tankless water heater. You’d save 24 to 34% of water heating cost!

4. Money flying out the WINDOWS

 windows

Those of us that live in older houses with old-fashion, outdated windows – they are big holes in your walls where money fly right through! Double-pane thermal windows arrest the heat transfer by inserting dead-air space between two panes. These energy-efficient windows enable homes to take advantage of free solar heating during the chilly winter.

How much you’ll save: 16 to 21% on annual heating costs, and return on investment as little as two years.

5. Cash going up the Chimney

Our heat’s favorite place to be: up and through the chimney. Check if your chimney’s damper is airtight by poking your hand up inside the flue and see if you can feel the draft. Most home owners place fitted glass fireplace doors over. Some leverage their fireplace by installing a heat exchanger, or installing woodstove to bring more heat into the room. Not a bad idea!

How much you’ll save: Glass fireplace doors can save 1 to 2% off your heating bill.

6. Space heaters, fans and future plans

Portable space heaters can be dangerous, that’s why we would recommend quartz or oil-filled heater, which look like radiators.

More Tips:

  • Reverse your ceiling fans to help circulate rising heated air down to where you need it.
  • Close the doors to little-used rooms.
  • Insulate outlets and light switches with switch insulators

 

We hope this will help you save some money and not let your house “eat” up your heating bills. While it’s nice to be warm and toasty, it is important to make sure our bank account stays cozy as well! Got more tips? Submit them to us on Twitter or Facebook!

 

 

 

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Checkmarks for your fall clean-up: did you do a good job?

We know our customers care about their lawns!It isn’t as simple as it seems, fall clean-up can be tedious. Seems like all we have to do is shove all the leaves away. But by taking the time to put your yard and landscape “to bed” in fall, your lawn will reap the rewards. Give your lawn a healthy start next spring by managing and checking off these 10 fall tasks.

rake
  1. Feed your lawn! It needs food too

Think of fall fertilization as replenishing your lawn after a long, hot, dry summer. It will help maintain your lawn’s root health and replenish nutrients that were expended in summer months. Don’t wait too long!

  1. Remember to water

Before you put away the sprinklers for the season, remember that some plants are still thirsty. Water early in the day to avoid evaporation and disease development. Water deep: when you see moisture soak into the soil of container plants and beds, apply another dose.

 

 

  1. Air out your soil yet?

That build-up and foot traffic can compact soil, which cuts off oxygen and nutrient supply to the roots. Aeration loosens soil. Tips: balding turf, matted-down grass, sparse new growth, pools of water and tough grounds are signs you need to aerate!

soil nutrition
  1. Have you level and reseed?

Early fall is the best time to reseed a lawn so turf roots establish before winter. Loosen soil with a dethatching rake, add a soil amendment and evenly apply seed. Here’s a general video on how to reseed a lawn:

  1. Are your perennials overcrowded?

Fall is the ideal time to divide the root ball and replant. Cutting back the plants prior to transplanting can help reduce shock.

gardener

6. Want spring’s first blooms?

Plant in the fall to enjoy spring’s first blooms! This include crocus, daffodil and tulip. Let the bulbs stay cool all winter. Don’t forget to dig holes for bulbs and fertilize before replacing soil.

tulip

7. Pick up leaves

We all know this is a common one, but just want to stick it in as a tip to remind you! Dark, moist environments are breeding grounds for disease!

8. Mow Low

Mowing for the last time? Make it a short cut since you’re tugging the lawn tools until spring.

9. Decorate for the holidays!

Have fun with your decorations! Get festive!

10. Clean upean up

Wash down all your patio furniture and store it for the season. For dog owners, make sure to pick up toys so they don’t get buried or lost!

 

Enjoy the rest of fall!

Winters Team

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Is Your Home REALLY Ready For The Winter?

As we breathe in the brisk air of fall, it also reminds us that winter is on its way. Besides reorganizing our closets, making sure our heat is working, it’s also important to use these 10 helpful tips for our home to REALLY prepare our house for the LONG winter.

1. Stove Pot Humidifier

A cost-effective way to keep your house warmer for longer!
A little tip, great creative and use lemon juice or cinnamon sticks with the humidifier for a fresh, clean, “wintery” smell!
Stove Pot Humidifier

2. Orange Peel As A Fire Starter

Crazy but true! The oil in the orange’s skin can fuel fires while releasing less creosote than paper. Dry its peels on a sheet pan and toss them in a paper bag (with a silica packet to maintain freshness). Not to mention your fireplace room will smell like fresh oranges!
Orange Peel As A Fire Starter

3. Pebble Boot Tray

Tired of wet snow remnants from boots? Use a pebble boot tray – the snow and ice will drain through the rocks to the bottom of the tray and your boots dry quicker that way. This is also easy to clean. You can make your very own, learn how to here
Pebble Boot Tray

4. De-Icing Roof Cables

Frozen ice forming on shingles or gutters mean bad news – use a de-icing roof cable or heat tape. You can turn them on before the storm hits you and assure that the cable will prevent ice from forming!
De-Icing Roof Cables

5. Sealing Air Leaks

We spend so much money on our heat, let’s make the most of it by ensuring that our windows are sealed and not have that warm air escape! Test for air leaks by placing candles around locations in your house on a windy day with the windows shut. If you flame moves, make sure to caulk and seal all air leaks! Don’t have time to caulk? Simply place bubble wrap between the window and the screen to keep out that cold draft. Or use 3M all weather flashing tape. We’ve include the tutorial for you here:

6. Tin Foil: Time to clean That Fireplace

It may be unconventional, but it works! Place a double layer of tin foil across the bottom of a fireplace before lighting a fire. When the fire is finished the next day, fold the tin foil with ashes in it.

7. Warm Water Bottles

Did you know that people used to use warm water containers to provide warmth while in bed since the 16th century? In today’s day, an electric blanket is a good modern alternative or you can stay vintage and use couple warm water bottles and lay them on your bed several minutes before you hit the hay.
Warm Water BottlesElectric Blanket

8. Don’t Have Salt To Quickly De-Freeze Your Steps?

Salt alternatives: rubbing Alcohol and dishwashing liquid. Use rubbing alcohol and dishwashing liquid – mix together one tsp of dishwashing liquid, one tsp of rubbing alcohol and half a gallon of hot water and voila! Your very own concoction to pour over ice! Plus, the concrete doesn’t get eaten away over time.

9. Dehumidify Air Dryers

Humid basement? Maybe you should consider buying a regenerative desiccant compressed air dryer – it uses pressure swing absorption to efficiently dry wet rooms! Wetness can cause mold growth overtime!

10. Programmable Thermostat

Last but not least, you can save money and energy with programmable thermostats in the long run. It adjust to a user-set temperature program with flexible time-of-day and seasonal adjustments.
We have a $14.95 monthly plan that gives you home monitoring: you can control your thermostat anytime and anywhere with your Smart phone! You can also add any other smart devices like door locks and water shut-offs – All from your smart phone! You can get a FREE thermostat through the MassSave rebate program too!
Programmable Thermostat
We hope these ten tips will make your winter less stressful and less repair work. Enjoy your winter!
Got other tips you want to share with us? Tweet us @wintershomeservices or tell us on our Facebook page!

Your friendly plumber,

Winters Team

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All Natural Hand Sanitizer Review

It’s that time of the year again! Cold and flu season, travel, small children with visible boogers, taking the T, life in general. All prompt some of us to whip out the hand sanitizer and generously douse our hands. Traditional brands, however, can leave us smelling like we walked out of a chemical plant, so we rounded up a few of the “natural” hand sanitizers to see how they measure up. While scents and formulas were different, we tested them when we would be around a lot of people to see if there were any reactions. We decided to try some of these products to give you our thoughts. Read on if you’re interested!

Hand Sanitizer

All Natural Hand Sanitizers

Brand: Clean Well

Formula: Spray

Scent: Orange Vanilla

Purchased/Price: Whole Foods, $3.69

Assessment: Just too light to feel that it was killing any sort of germs, and it was annoyingly sticky. Plus, I smelled like an attendee at a Grateful Dead show, or so my friend told me when I used it a few minutes prior to meeting up with him.
Winters Grade: D

Brand: EO

Formula: Gel

Scent: Lavender

Purchased/Price: Whole Foods, $3.99

Assessment: This felt like it was doing its job, and without any residue feeling. The smelly is heavenly. I used it a few times in one day, and got compliments on my scent from everyone from my colleagues (both genders) to my significant other to someone in line behind me at the market who wanted to know which Chanel perfume I happened to be wearing. If a $3.99 hand sanitizer can be mistaken for Chanel, I’ll start buying this in bulk. I liked this one so much that after our test was over I bought the spray version, and am equally happy with it.
Winters Grade: A

Brand: The Body Shop

Formula: Gel

Scent: Absinthe

Purchased/Price: The Body Shop, $2

Assessment: Yes, absinthe, as in the high caliber spirit. The salesperson told me that it was her favorite of their scents, so I threw caution to the wind. I think there should be a new rule: if you will not drink it, do not use it on your person. I spelled like I had been on the bender to end all benders. I used it after a yoga class and got a few raised eyebrows in the locker room when the scent wafted into the air. And really, by “waft” I mean landing like a big lead balloon that cannot be missed. That said, I would buy it again in a heartbeat in a different scent. My hands instantly felt clean, it was not at all sticky, and the cost cannot be beat.
Winters Grade: B

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50 Best Restaurants – Winters Approved 2014

winters restaraunt selections
There’re so many places for a fine dining experience here in Boston. We followed Boston Magazine’s “50 best restaurants of 2014” guide and want to share with you our experience and opinions!

If you’re a fan of seafood and fine Japanese food, try out Uni on 370 Commonwealth Ave in Boston, and O Ya on 9 East St in Boston. I personally love their squid-ink soba noodles!

If you are into multiple-courses meals with delicate appearance and great taste, Asta on 47 Massachusetts Ave in Boston cannot be missed! I personally suggest the sweet-and-sour eggplant topped with crushed peanuts, it offers a unique taste – nothing I’ve ever tasted before!

If you are a Sundae lover, then you cannot miss the bitter-chocolate ganache and chocolate-oat crumble glamorous sundae at T.W.Food on 77 Walden St in Cambridge! My kids simply adore these sundaes – feels like we flew over to Paris with Parisian-style brick walls, French-wine-country maps!

Looking for some spicy Chinese food? Try Sichuan Garden on 2 Alfred St in Woburn. Their fiery ma po tofu cannot be missed! If you are into spicy chicken wings, try their Chongqing chicken wings with maple sriracha sauce.

I love pizzas! I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t. Once in a while, I like to try some creative pizzas that I don’t see on a typical pizza menu. If we are on the same page, then you’ve got to go to The Salty Pig on 130 Dartmouth St in Boston. My daughter doesn’t like greasy food too much, and she approved their pizzas! Their pates, rilletes and various pastas are all in-house production. Not to mention their pizza-friendly cocktails!

Are you a fan of meat like my son? Then you’ve got to try Sweet Cheeks on 1381 Boylston St in Boston. He especially loves the bone ribs they offer. Their fried-chicken tray with sides of farm salad and broccoli casserole is absolutely delicious!

On and on, this list is approved by me and my kids, as well as our team! Couple of our team members went to these restaurants as well and loved them!
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/article/2014/10/27/50-best-restaurants-in-boston-2014/

Check out the list and venture out for a great dining experience. Let me know what you liked and would recommend. You can find us on Twitter @Wintershomeservices and Facebook!

Best,
Tim

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Conserve Water

Conserve Water, Save Money!

conserve water
Did you know that he average family uses approximately 300 gallons of water per day (about 30 percent of that usage is outdoor) according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? From showers and toilets to washing machines, dishwashers and more, now that’s a lot of water!

We would like to advise homeowners on how to reduce water and energy consumption and save money. Since the bathroom is where the most water is consumed on a daily basis, we offers these tips:

Replace older showerhead models - There’s a much higher cost associated with older showerheads, which use more than five gallons of water per minute. Not only is water wasted, it puts a lot of demand on your water heater and drives up energy bills. Nowadays, the ultra low-flow showerhead models (displaying the WaterSense label) use only two gallons of water per minute and perform better than ever.

Save water and time spent cleaning - Consider upgrading your toilet to one that uses less water per flush. The Department of Energy standard is one point six gallons per flush, but if you have an older toilet, you may be using well over three gallons per flush. There are many options available that use a lot less water and have the added benefit of staying cleaner longer. Some of the most innovative models on the market today include TOTO’s Double Cyclone that uses a little over one and a quarter gallons per flush and has a dual nozzle water propulsion system (ensuring that cleaner bowl) to TOTO’s eWater+, which utilizes electrolyzed water (a proven disinfectant), reducing the need for harsh cleaning chemicals.

Don’t waste water waiting for it to heat up - We’ve all been there. If you turn on the sink or shower and wait anywhere from 30 seconds to over a minute for the water to heat up, precious gallons of clean water (and your money) go down the drain. Consider replacing your traditional storage water heater with a Tankless Water Heater or installing a Hot Water Recirculating System. Either one will ensure immediate delivery of hot water when you need it and provide significant water and energy savings.

Fix those leaks - If you have a leaky faucet, toilet or pipe in your home, fix it immediately before it becomes a bigger and more expensive problem. Even if it’s a slow leak, it can account for more than 10 percent of your water usage, which means a significant amount of your money (like the water) trickles out of your pocket over time. If you don’t know if you have a leak, your water meter readings are the clue. When water is not in use, check the meter twice in a two-hour time span. If the readings change, then there is a leak somewhere in your home.

Monitor, measure and control your systems with new technology - Winters’ state-of-the-art CarePlus Home Monitoring program enables homeowners to monitor, measure and access the most important systems – from water sensors (which can detect leaks and usage), home energy meters, and carbon monoxide detectors to thermostats, lights, door locks and more- through any Smart device. It’s one of the easiest ways to conserve energy and maximize savings.

Do you have any special tips on conserving water at your home? Do tell! Tweet us @wintershomeservices, or go to our Facebook and share!

 

 

 

 

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Travel & Toilets

Have you ever been in a restaurant or hotel that has a bathroom that just wows you? Our owner recently went to NYC with friends and was so taken by the restrooms at Morimoto that he snapped a picture of it. Here’s why:

It’s a power toilet. There is a panel on the wall to heat the seat, clean the, um “undercarriage” (though we all agree that’s a bit vile to do while using a public toilet), lower and raise the lid, and a host of other options
It’s small, but looks spacious thanks to the mirrors at the back of each stall
It’s quiet. The bustling bar is just outside, but a hush falls as the door swings shut
It smells amazing. The subway system should find out what air freshener or filtration system they use and mimic it
Great use of space. The hand dryers are tucked away under the mirrors, so you do not have to stare at some big ugly wall unit

Plus, he reports back that it was hands down the best burger he has ever had – quite a coupe for a sushi restaurant – and that the sashimi was like butter melting in your mouth.

If you are in New York City anytime soon, check out Morimoto (http://www.morimotonyc.com/) and go next door to Chelsea Food Markets http://chelseamarket.com/, which is a foodie’s paradise. He especially loved the fresh, hot donuts at Doughnuttery (http://www.doughnuttery.com/#!about/ciaa) and the salts and vinegars at The Filling Station (http://www.tfsnyc.com/).

Have a favorite bathroom that you have encountered during your travels? Do tell!

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Get Ready for Winter(s)!

Too early to think about old man winter? Sadly, this late summer heat wave will not last forever! Here are a few quick things for homeowners, property managers and landlords to focus on before the cold weather rolls in:

  • Start with the basics, but the one perhaps most critical: the smoke alarm. Last night I inadvertently “tested” mine while roasting tomatoes for a bit too long. Good news: it works. Bad news: my hearing is just getting back to normal.

  • Carbon monoxide is a big deal. It’s deadly and silent and ever winter we hear nightmare stories about it. Don’t be a statistic. Get the sensors, and check this site out for a product that does easy detection: carbon monoxide in a can*. With this, you simply spray a bit into a carbon monoxide detector, and it should sound off. No sound? Toss the detector and replace it. Manufacturers recommend replacing them every five years. While this could be ploy to get us all to buy more stuff, it is not a risk I am willing to take.

  • Vents and chimneys. We all have them. Some, like a chimney on a well-kept older home, look great. Others, like the vents that stick out of the side of a house or building, can in colder temps look like an overheating R2D2 on steroids as they pump out steam and smoke. Anything around a vent needs to be removed, like leaves or vines. Finally the space around the pipe that leads into the property needs to be sealed. We always inspect the seal that piping passes through. Remember, it has to be tight to work right!

  • Draining outside faucets. It’s a bit early, but make a note on your calendar to do this one, as it is the one thing that always gets forgotten. We always advocate turning the water off within the property and opening the outside faucet for draining. This way, when spring arrives and you gleefully go outside to water the new plants there are no surprises…and there is no risk of bursting a leak and having the backyard turn into a skating rink over the winter.

  • We have a new (and VERY cool) tool for anyone that owns or manages a property. Imagine your house texting your phone when there is a leak. Seem too good to be true? The Winters Home Monitoring App is amazing, and instead of frantically reacting to a crisis it puts the control back in your very capable hands. I love this system for a few reasons:

  • Leaks cause mucho damage and that equals money. The Winters Home Monitoring App lets you know within minutes of a problem, and will text you so that you can shut off the water source until help can be there.

  • Let workers into your property and see them live on video. Let them solve the problem, leaving you to arrive home and focus on dinner and the contents of your DVR

  • Lock yourself out? Most likely you will never forget your smart phone. Log in and open your own doors in seconds!

  • Check on your kids and pets. Perhaps even check in on the nanny, housekeeper…or that annoying houseguest to see if they really are stealing your sports page.

Check out the video demonstration of the Winters Home Monitoring App on our site at http://www.wintershomeservices.com/.

At Winters Home Services, we use a checklist that has always come in handy. Give us a call today at (617) 776-5950 to receive your copy!

Sorry for the winter warning… and enjoy the bonus summer days this weekend!

My best,

Tim Flynn

*to learn more about carbon monoxide in a can, visit the manufacturer’s site at http://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/71058465?CS_010=71058465&item=71058465&CS_003=7867724&src=pla&cid=PLA-Google-PLA+-+Test.

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Happy Customer

Happy Customers

“Not only were they quick to action but they called first thing Monday morning to tell me they could come in 30 minutes to start taking the furnace out and install the new one same day. While many other companies claim “24/7 emergency service” these guys mean it AND they are helpful. On Sunday night they also brought me space heaters to keep my place warm – lifesaver! This is a company I will openly refer and use for services in the future. Thanks Winters! I now have heat less then 24 hours later and a full understanding of how my new system works.”

Dana A
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