Discover how to save on heating costs

Staying cozy can be really tough if you live in a drafty house or poorly insulated apartment. But don’t worry, there are lots of ways to fix your place without a lot of time or money!
Step 1: Identify your heat source. Homes are equipped for gas heat, central air, electric baseboard heat, wood stoves.

If you don’t know which kind you have, you can ask your landlord, or do some detective work yourself. If you’re stumped, some kinds of heat, like gas heat, need to be turned on by the utility company. A general rule, though, is that most heat sources work better if you keep them at a fairly even temperature most of the time. If you keep the house cold and then crank up the heat by 20 degrees when you come home after work, you’re only going to make your heating system work harder and crank up your utility bill. It might be a good idea to check your rental agreement, if you have one, to see if your landlord requires you to keep your house at a certain temperature; some rental agreements might ask you to keep the thermostat set to at least 55ºF to prevent pipes from freezing.

I don’t know if you would want to have your house colder than that, though, seems a little cold… But also it’s good to not have frozen pipes. That happened to me one time. It was bad…

Step 2: Hit the hardware store! This is the best place to find weatherproofing materials, and most of them don’t require special tools or equipment. If you’ve got a drafty place: plastic sheeting. It’s all—it’s cheap, easy, and crucial. You can also look for rubber seals to press into the doors and windowsills to seal cracks, as well as power outlet covers to prevent drafts.

It also doesn’t hurt to grab an indoor thermometer so you can keep an eye on the temperature in your house. Almost all of this stuff will be in the same aisle of the hardware store. And it’s a little bit more pricey, but you might want to look out for a radiant space heater. Decent-quality space heaters run $50-$100 and can help heat smaller spaces so you don’t have to crank up the heat over the whole house.

Step 3: Be strategic with your heat. Identify which rooms you spend the most time in and which rooms you just need to stay warm enough so that the pipes don’t freeze. This is where that radiant space heater can come in handy. Keeping one in the bedroom and shutting the door ensures that the heater can warm up the small space enough for you to be comfortable.

Be safe with that heater, though, follow the instructions, do not burn your house down.

Step 4: Your mom was right: It’s cheaper if you just put on a sweater. So bundle up! Hit the thrift store for sweaters, scarves, fingerless gloves and blankets. Layer leggings, long-sleeve shirts and thick socks under your PJs to keep you nice and toasty. And having a nice big fluffy robe to put on when you get out of the shower—always super nice.

If you have long hair, try wrapping it up with a towel or big hair clip after you shower so you don’t have wet hair making you feel colder.

Step 5: Try to bring things in that will enhance your sense of coziness and warmth. Light some candles. Try turning on a couple soft-lighting table lamps in each room to make your home glow a little bit. Convince yourself it’s warm by putting on the Netflix “Yule log” video. Drink your favorite heated beverage, like tea, or hot chocolate to make your insides warm. The Danish concept of “hygge” (sorry for the pronunciation) might also be useful to research—the Danes have a ton of coping mechanisms for getting through a long winter.

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Do you need professional emergency plumbing services?

When last did you have your plumbing system checked over by a professional plumber? Do you want to avoid a costly plumbing emergency? Do you even know the different parts that make up your plumbing system?

Your backflow preventer: That is if you have a backflow preventer, some older homes do not and this can be a danger to your health because if contaminated back flow gets back into the piping system then it can allow bacteria to multiply and get into your drinking and bathing water. This is definitely something you want to avoid so if you don’t know if you have a backflow preventer you should find out. If you do have a backflow preventer keep in mind that the non-return valve can become worn and damaged over time from everyday use, you should have a professional plumber check it for you on a regular basis.

Your water heater: If you are using an old tank style water heater then you are wasting money, end of story. The sooner you change your system the sooner you will start saving money after the initial investment. You can opt for a solar water heater but be sure to get one with an electric switchover so you aren’t left with no hot water on an overcast day. The better option in my opinion is the new tankless system which heats water as it flows through the pipe only when the hot water faucet is on with the use of a heating element or gas flame, this provides practically limitless hot water to your home which is a great utility to have.

Your piping system and leaks: If you have an old iron piping system then chances are you will need to get your home repiped to the new copper standard in order to prevent potential rust poisoning. If you are on the newer copper pipes you will still have to maintain them in order to prevent leaks from springing up, leaks can be very problematic because if you don’t know where the leak is it could cause hundreds of dollars of damage before you even notice it. This is why it is good to have a plumber check over your pipes regularly as preventative maintenance

Your drains: Keeping your drains clean and block free is your responsibility and will come back to haunt you if you don’t do it often enough, sometimes a buildup of hair or residue can cause a blockage to build up inside the pipe unnoticed until the flow of water starts becoming restricted. At this point you should immediately apply some powerful commercial drain cleaner. If this doesn’t clear the blockage then call your local professional plumber to use a snake or hydrojet on the drain to clear the blockage.

 

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How to clean a blocked drain

If you have ever had a blocked drain, then you know exactly how much of a nuisance it can be. At first, you will notice the foul odour emanating from the accumulated muck that is stuck in there. Then, before you know it, nothing will be draining away at all, and you will be left with a real mess on your hands. To help you prevent this nightmare scenario from becoming a reality, we have compiled a list of tips to help deal with blocked drains.

  1. If the odour from the blocked drain is overpowering you then you should try pouring a healthy amount of lemon juice down the drain. Within an hour, the lemon juice should have neutralised the odour of the pipe, providing you with enough fresh air to get on with the job of unblocking.
  2. The first unblocking method to try is to boil a kettle of water and pour it slowly down the drain. Hopefully, the heat of the boiling water should be enough to melt or dissolve whatever is causing the blockage, and then the water should flush through the pipes, leaving your drain freshly unblocked. You could try adding a cup of Arm and Hammer baking soda to the hot water for an even more efficient clean.
  3. For the nastiest blockages, try pouring a ½ cup of baking soda mixed with a ½ cup of Salt down the drain, then pour the hot water down 20 minutes later.
  4. If hot water doesn’t work, then maybe Baking Soda and Vinegar will help. Pour 1/3 of a cup of Baking Soda mixed with vinegar down the drain, and the force of the reaction should contribute to clear the grime which has built up in the pipe.
  5. Perhaps you’ll need to use a plunger. Fill the sink with water to help create a seal around the plunger when you use it on the drain. Plunge several times in rapid succession, and hopefully, the sink should begin to drain as whatever caused the blockage starts to dislodge.

Find the U-shaped pipe in your drain system

You could try some very simple plumbing if the other techniques haven’t worked. Find the U-shaped pipe in your drain system and place a bucket underneath it to catch whatever comes out. Loosen the slip nuts at both ends of the pipe and slowly work the piece of pipe free. Drain the contents of the pipe into the bucket and then rinse it thoroughly with water. Put the pipe back together, and hopefully, your drain should now be performing as expected.

Bath drain clog

If it’s a bath drain which has become clogged, then try pouring 1/3 of a cup of Baking soda and vinegar down the drain and leaving it for 1 hour. After the hour put the stopper on the drain and fill the tub. When you remove the stopper, the force of the water from the tub should be enough to clear out the dirt which has already been loosened by the baking soda and vinegar.

Biological drain cleaners

Finally, there are some handy biological drain cleaners available in stores. If you buy one of these, then you should periodically pour some down your drain, and leave it there overnight. If you follow these instructions, then you should never have a problem from your drain ever again.

So, hopefully, now you should be well armed with advice for dealing with blocked drains. Just remember to try these tips, and if you should ever again be hassled by a blocked drain, then you should know exactly what to do.

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