Article courtesy of Realtor.com

Make the most of your energy dollar. Just follow these simple guidelines and enjoy lower gas bills this season.

money sign

  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter. For each degree you raise your thermostat setting, your fuel bill climbs 3 percent. So dress accordinglyconsider slipping into a sweater before you crank up the temperature.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed. A simple task like this and those in No. 3 could improve your systems’ energy efficiency by 10 percent.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season; if in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.
  • Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job. Try to keep the humidity level between 30 percent and 60 percent.
  • During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.
  • Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house, such as in a corner, and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone. Some programmable thermostats now come with temperature zoning options However, do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system. For example, if you heat your house with a heat pump, do not close the ventsclosing the vents could harm the heat pump.
  • Consider installing double-pane windows with protective coating that reflects heat back into your home during winter. If such a retrofit is not in your budget, cover your windows with clear plastic film. At a typical cost of $4 to $6 per window, the film creates an insulating air pocket between the plastic and the window, reducing heat loss through windows by between 25 percent and 50 percent.
  • Caulk and weather strip around exterior seams, cracks and openings. Pay extra attention around windows and at points where various exterior materials like wood, brick and vinyl siding meet. And on the inside, caulking and weather-stripping around windows and door frames will cut down on drafts.


radonQ: Does the radon level build up and become too high if a home has been vacant and closed up for an extended period of time?

A: No. Radon has a half-life of 3.8 days. That means that its detectable level drops by 50% in 3.8 days, and continues to be reduced by half again in 3.8 days, and so on. It cannot store up in a closed house condition. It will dissipate naturally. A radon test canister measures the amount of radon present over a short time. Many different circumstances can affect the level that gets measured – weather conditions is one of them.

If the results come back high and another test comes back lower, then the home still fails because it has show the ability to fail. When the home has its high radon levels mitigated, the subsequent radon levels are typically found to be quite low. Interestingly, failing and mitigating is often a more healthful move than getting a 3.9p/L level and doing nothing about it.

Remember, if the test is for a real estate transaction, only a licensed measurement technician can perform the test.

This “Ask the Home Inspector” article is brought to you by Jim Finnan of Dream Home Inspection. He is a licensed NJ Home Inspector and ASHI member for the last 15 years. He welcomes all questions that come up during inspections. He can be reached at 201-677-0240 or email dreamhomeinspect@yahoo.com



Contributed by:
Denise Hillman
Hillman Consulting

Radon is an important factor to take into account for both homeowners and potential homebuyers. This naturally-occurring radioactive gas is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water.  It usually enters homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings close to the soil.  Less commonly, it can enter homes through well water and is released into the air when water is used for showering or other household uses.

According to the EPA’s Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon, one out of every fifteen homes in the United States is estimated to have an elevated radon level, and both older and newer houses can be affected.  So why is this significant?  Over time, exposure to elevated levels of radon can lead to long term health effects. Indoor radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.

Fortunately, elevated radon levels in your home are both preventable and fixable.  The first step is testing your home to determine if your radon levels are elevated.  Testing is easy and largely inexpensive.  Options are available to both reduce the levels and prevent future problems if elevated levels are found (above 4 pCi/L).  The remediation process typically includes ventilating your home, sealing any cracks or openings, and pressurizing the space to prevent radon from entering your home in the future.

For more information on radon, testing, and remediation, contact your state radon office or Hillman Consulting.

Hillmann Consulting, LLC
1600 Route 22 East
Union, New Jersey 07083
908-686-2636 Fax
908-858-0500 Cell