Category Archives: energy bills

Protect your home and yourself from cold winter weather

With the second Polar Vortex of the season bearing down on Minnesota and the rest of the Great Plains, Black Label Services LLC wants to remind homeowners to use safety when heating their home. We also offer some tips that will help you not only protect your home from weather-related issues, but also yourself.

As families turn to alternative heating sources out of necessity or to avoid the rising cost of fuel, they should take the following precautions:

• Use caution with portable space heaters. Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the winter months, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. About two-thirds of home heating fire deaths are caused by portable or fixed space heaters.

• To prevent fire, place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people.

• Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don’t leave children or pets unattended near space heaters.

• Drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard.

• Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are working properly and replace batteries as necessary.

• Have your chimney connections and flues inspected by a professional and cleaned if necessary prior to the start of every heating season.

• Use a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Burn only wood.

• Do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.

• Always operate portable generators outdoors. Do not connect a generator directly to your home’s wiring — leave that work to a professional electrician and buy a generator designed for that purpose. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Connecting a cord from the generator to a point on the permanent wiring system and back-feeding power to your home is an unsafe method to supply a building with power.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.

• Don’t overload your electrical outlets. Be careful of extension cords that present hazardous walkways.

Prevent frozen pipes

Now is the time to protect your house pipes from freezing and bursting. Preventive action may make all the difference.

• Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

• Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.

• When the temperature is very low outside, let the cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes or pipes in exterior walls. Running water through the pipe — even at a trickle — helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.

• Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

• If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

Protect yourself

Avoid unnecessary exposure to the cold. Be aware of both the temperature and the wind chill when planning outdoor activities. When you prepare to go outside in severe cold weather, remember the following:

• Most of your body heat is lost through your head so wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.

• Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.

• Wear waterproof, insulated boots to help avoid hypothermia or frostbite by keeping your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.

• Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.

• Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.

• Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.

Is it time to replace your windows?

Keeping your windows clean and in working order is a necessary chore for all homeowners, especially those who live in older houses. The National Association of Realtors recently reported that new windows offers the biggest return-on-investment when selling a house. So, a well-maintained house demands a much higher price than one in a simply fair condition.

So, when do you know when it’s time to invest in new replacement windows? The look and condition of your windows offer immediate hints as to whether or not it is time to replace your windows, but there are other clues that you can look for as well.

Warm & Cool Spots: Finding a warm spot on the window frame on a hot day, or a cool spot on a cold day, means that the window is not properly insulating the house and allowing air to pass through to the inside. It’s been shown that on sunny, 80 degree days, the exterior of a building can reach up to 150 degrees, which can easily pass into your home, increasing your energy costs. If you discover a warm or cool spot in your window frame, it is probably time for some new replacement windows.

Window Frames: Older window frames tend to deteriorate and get softer, letting more air leak into your home. An easy test is to check the softness of the wood with a flat-blade or blunted screwdriver. If the screwdriver can be easily pushed into the wood, then that is a sign that the wood is decaying rapidly and replacement windows are usually needed.

Frost or Ice Build-Up: Frost and ice commonly forms around windows that are older and have poor insulation or use poor thermal material. These problems permit a too-quick transition from hot to cold air, which causes condensation. Too much condensation can cause water to run off the window pane onto the frame, staining the wood or even the adjoining walls. This can cause mold or mildew, so it’s important to attend to this problem as soon as possible.

Window Appearance: The appearance and general condition of your windows is one of the first things that you should look for and one of the most obvious signs that new replacement windows are needed. Check for chipping, deterioration, or water stains on or around the exterior and interior of the window. Peeling paint is a hint as well, since it is caused by moisture traveling through windows, making the frame to expand or contract.

Window Operation: As mentioned before, look for air leaks in the frame or condensation and fogging between glass panes. Be sure to also test each window by opening and closing it to make sure it functions properly. Windows that are swollen so much that they cannot be opened, or windows that need a prop to stay open, are in need of replacement.

Window Age: This may sound strange, but windows that have a style that is outdated or doesn’t fit in with the rest of the house are usually in need of replacement, even if they seem to be working properly. If you have tried to fix them by purchasing replacement parts, and the parts are difficult or impossible to find at a hardware store that is giving you a sign that your windows are older and need updating.

Caulking: Telling the difference between a properly placed and well-done caulk job and one that is deteriorating can be a difficult task. However, there’s a simple test that makes it easier. While you stand outside traveling around the entire exterior window frame with a flashlight, have someone stand inside the window. If this person can see light coming through the frame, then caulking failure is likely and air infiltration and energy loss is occurring as well.

Rotting: Once windows begin to rot it is very difficult to stop it from traveling. Therefore, it’s imperative that you check your home regularly for signs of rotting, mold or mildew. Rot can spread from one surface to another, so also check the walls around your windows as well.

Exterior Noise: Old windows generally mean poor insulation, which creates openings that allow drafts and outside noise into the interior of the house. One great trick for finding small openings like this is to hold a lighted candle in front of a suspected spot and watch to see if it flickers. If it does, there’s a leak and unwelcome outside air is being let in, causing energy loss and unwanted heat transfer.

Black Label Services LLC can help you determine the replacement window option that is suitable for you and your home. Call us for a free consultation and estimate today!

Five winter remodeling projects to improve your home

Home improvement projects aren’t just for the spring and summer months. There are a number of home improvement remodeling projects you can do during the winter. During the winter months you’ll want to mainly focus on the inside of the house for your remodeling projects.

Here are the top five home remodeling projects you can do in the winter to improve your home.

Paint the interior of the house. You may have spent the warmer months sprucing up the outside of your home. It’s now time to focus on the inside of the house. One way you can brighten things up is to give each room a fresh coat of paint, if needed. If you’ve got a drab room, try a bolder color for a change of pace.

Remodel the bathroom. People spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Take a look around your bathroom to see what you can improve. If you don’t have the skill or money to renovate the whole bathroom, address one or two item that need improving. Perhaps you’d like to refinish the bathtub or you could use a new toilet or sink. Now is a good time to tackle those much needed renovations in your bathroom.

Improve insulation. Increase the insulation in your attic. This suggestion for a winter home improvement project can save you a lot on your home heating bills. You can buy rolls of insulation from the home improvement store and install as directed. Also check around your home’s windows for any heating that could be escaping as well as cold air that could be coming into the house. Stop these heat leaks by caulking windows and door frames.

Lay new carpet. During the winter months, odds are that you’re spending much more time inside the house. If you carpet that needs refreshing, why not pull up the old and put down new carpet? Replace worn down carpet padding if you need to. Replacing the carpet and padding as a winter home improvement project will increase the comfort in your home tremendously.

Refinish the kitchen cabinets. Your kitchen is the heart of the home. If you can use some home improvement in the kitchen, consider refinishing the kitchen cabinets. Perhaps you’ll want to go light or darker, or just enhance the color of the cabinets as they are. It’s less expensive to refinish cabinets versus buying brand new ones. This winter home improvement project may even lead to more kitchen remodeling projects.

Get a FREE No Obligations Estimate and Consultation Today!

Fixing up your home can be a big step, and you may be worried about the financial and construction challenges. We totally understand that, which is why your initial consultation is free of charge and carries no obligations. Contact Black Label Services today and we’ll explore your remodeling project ideas in a stress-free, risk-free environment at your earliest convenience. Call us at 952-563-0111 or visit our website at www.blacklabelservices.com. We’re also on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/BlackLabelHQ?ref=hl and “Like” our page!

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