Gas Appliances vs. Electric Appliances

Appliances are broken down into two main categories: gas- and electric-powered. You may be more familiar with one or the other based on personal experience, but when it comes time to choose appliances for your home, you’ll likely be weighing a variety of factors including the conversion costs, operation costs, safety, sustainability, and more. The following breakdown of the differences between gas and electric appliances can help inform your decision about what is ultimately best for your home.

What is the difference between gas and electricity?

Homes with natural gas are powered by a series of pipeline connections. The gas lines flowing from the property lead out to and connect with a larger pipeline farther away. Homes can also be powered by propane gas, which is stored in a tank on the property.

Electric power flows from generators to substations and eventually to individual homes, carried by transmission and distribution lines. In short, gas can power a variety of appliances in your home, but it won’t power your lights or electronics, whereas electricity can do both.

What is the difference between gas appliances and electric appliances?

The costs of gas and electric appliances vary region-to-region, both in upfront and operation costs. Having said that, gas is the more efficient heating fuel, and using gas appliances could save you up to 30 percent on your utility bill (consumeraffairs.com). Keep in mind that gas furnaces tend to be noisier but will usually heat up your home quicker, while electric furnaces are quieter but may take more time to warm your home.

So, what do you do if you want to convert your home from one fuel to the other? To switch from electric to gas, you’ll need to route gas lines, purchase the new appliances, and install them. Switching from gas to electric will require installing an electric line and capping the gas line(s). Each of these conversion methods will require an investment, so be sure to budget for these costs before you switch.

Gas and electric have their own unique safety hazards. With gas, you’ll need to take a couple extra steps to protect your home’s air quality. You’ll want to make sure you have a good ventilation system and that your carbon monoxide alarm is functioning properly to alert you of any potential poisoning from the furnace or the appliances themselves. With electric appliances, you won’t run the risk of a gas leak, but if the appliance’s wiring is faulty or neglectfully maintained, it could start a fire.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Source: SolStock

 

Gas vs. Electric Range

The range tends to be the focal point of the gas-versus-electric debate for many homeowners. While some prefer the quick-heating power of an open-flame gas stove, others view an electric stove as safer for their household and therefore better. While some enjoy the even-heating quality of an electric oven, others prefer gas ovens with traditional coil burners. Electric stoves are usually easier to maintain; especially glass tops since you only have to clean one smooth surface.

Gas vs. Electric – Dryer & Fireplace

In general, gas dryers can heat up faster than electric dryers, which means they are more efficient and can save you money on your energy bills. However, gas dryers tend to be more expensive than their electric counterparts.

Electric fireplaces are usually cheaper to install but may not be as effective as gas fireplaces for heating larger spaces. And apart from all the financials, some people simply enjoy the feeling of a natural flame (gas) coming from the hearth, while the electric heating element appeals to others.

At the end of the day, choosing between gas and electric appliances depends on your situation. Saving on energy bills may be your number one priority, or perhaps you can’t stand the idea of not cooking on an open flame. Whatever your choice, it’s helpful to know the pros and cons of each option.

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Tips for Home: Extend the Life of Your Mattress

All furniture has a shelf life, and your mattress is no different. Whether you sleep on a spring or memory foam mattress, the more proactive you can be about maintaining it, the better your chances of experiencing healthy, regular sleep. With a few simple tasks you can extend the life of your mattress and wake up every day feeling refreshed. 

Extend the Life of Your Mattress

1. Clean Your Mattress Regularly

A clean mattress is the key to healthy sleep. Clean your mattress regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Certain home cleaning supplies such as baking soda and essential oils can help to cleanse your mattress’s fabric, but they may be harmful to certain foam types. Vacuum before you clean to rid your mattress of dust and dirt using the attachment designed for cleaning upholstery. If your pets like to snuggle up in bed, you can count on their hair and fur getting trapped in your linens, so you may want to consider vacuuming more frequently to make sure everyone can sleep soundly.

2. Rotate Every Six Months

After laying in the same spot night after night, your mattress will begin to form to your body. Rotating your mattress every three-to-six months will give it a chance to refresh its structure and provide additional support. By simply flipping the foot end of the bed around to where you lay your head, it will feel like you’ve bought a brand-new mattress.

 

Image Source: Shutterstock – Image Credit: New Africa

 

3. Use a Mattress Protector

Mattress protectors help to keep your bed as clean as possible by limiting damage caused by spills while keeping dust mites, sweat, dander, and pet hair/fur off your mattress. Made from organic cotton, organic mattress protectors are typically hypoallergenic and waterproof. They are helpful sleep aids for people with sensitivities to allergens and chemicals.

4. Support Your Mattress

Not properly supporting your mattress is a recipe for unhealthy sleep and a short lifespan for your bed. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if your mattress is meant to be coupled with a box spring, and if not, what kind of underneath support is required, given your mattress’s type and weight. Insufficient support can not only damage your bed but can also lead to physical complications such as soreness and back pain.

5. Handle Your Mattress with Care When Moving

During the moving process, the bed is often the center of attention. Large and clumsy, mattresses can be frustrating to maneuver from your bedroom to a moving vehicle. Fabric can easily be torn when navigating around corners, up and down stairs, through hallways, and sometimes even out of windows. Always work with a partner when moving your mattress or let the professionals handle it if you’re hiring a moving company. If you’re too hasty about getting it moved, you can easily damage it to the point where you’ll need to make a replacement.

 

For more information on the shelf life of various household items and home appliances, read our blog post on The Life Expectancy of Your Home.

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How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

After the long days of summer have come and gone and fall is ending, it’s time to begin preparations for winterizing your home. When temperatures begin to dip, your lakeside cabin, seaside cottage or mountain lodge will need some extra TLC to make it through the colder months until spring comes around again. Whether your waterfront property is your vacation home or a primary residence, it’s important to properly winterize it in order to avoid potential damage and to save you time and money.

How to Winterize Your Waterfront Property

Pipes and Plumbing

Burst pipes are often the cause of water damage. Prevent a water damage emergency at your waterfront property this winter by being proactive.

If your waterfront home is your summer getaway, then disconnect your hoses from outside pipes to prevent them from freezing and breaking. If you plan to turn the heat off for the winter, turn off your main water supply and open your faucets. Any water left in your hoses can cause damage, so be sure to drain the hoses connected to your dishwasher, washer, and any other appliances.

If you’ll be calling your waterfront property home for the winter, thoroughly inspect the insulation for both your interior and exterior pipes. Any areas where insulation is lacking could lead to a cracked pipe, which has the potential to cause serious damage and could end up costing a significant amount of money to repair.

Roof and Gutters

Properly winterizing your roof and gutters will help to avoid a buildup of rain, snow, or debris turning into a structural issue. For homeowners with a shingle roof, this is the time to check your roof for any signs of damage and make repairs accordingly. Cracked shingles can be carried off by high winds, torn off in a winter storm, or may fall to the ground after being struck by a fell branch, leaving your roof vulnerable to leaks.

This is especially important if you will be away from your waterfront property all winter. Since you won’t be around, you may not be aware that your roof has been damaged until it’s too late.

For metal roofs, check to make sure everything is screwed down tight. Clear your gutters of leaves and debris. The heavier your gutters become, the more prone they are to leaks, and could potentially rip away from your roof. Keep your gutters clear throughout the winter. Any blockages of leaves, twigs, or ice could lead to a leak, damaging your walls and insulation.

Other Areas

Once your plumbing, pipes, roof, and gutters are properly winterized, look to other areas of your property to prepare for the winter ahead. Check all windows and doors to identify any air leaks. If you identify a leak, be sure to patch it before you take off for the winter—or if you’re staying in the home for the season, before temperatures start to dip. Inspect your home’s insulation and weatherstripping and make replacements as needed.

Bring your patio furniture inside and store them in a safe space to keep them in good condition until spring. Inspect your boat lift and dock. Consider investing in a bubbler or agitator system to keep ice away from your dock if you’re expecting freezing temperatures throughout the winter. Follow proper winterizing guidelines for your boat and any other watercraft you have before covering them or placing them in winter storage.

For more tips on home maintenance throughout the seasons and much more, visit the Living section of our blog.

Windermere Blog – Living

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5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

A swimming pool can turn a backyard into a grotto, an oasis, an at-home vacation spot. But to let the poolside good times roll, they require maintenance. Your local climate can often dictate how much you use your pool. For some homeowners, you may be swimming in your pool year-round. For others, the pool may be a summer ritual, only to close it up once fall temperatures start to plummet. No matter how often you use your pool, these tips will help you keep it in tip-top shape.

5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

1. Keep Your Pool Water Balanced

A well-balanced pool maintains the correct levels of chemicals and, through filtration and disinfection, avoids having to change the pool water year after year. The main levels of concern are pH, total alkalinity, chlorine levels and calcium hardness. Aim to keep these levels within the following parameters:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.8
  • Total alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
  • Chlorine levels: 1 – 3 ppm
  • Calcium hardness: 180 – 200 ppm

2. Routine Cleaning

Regardless of the season, keeping your pool water crystal clear requires routine cleaning. Weekly tasks include vacuuming, backwashing the pool filter, applying algaecide and chlorine, and cleaning the skimmer baskets. Running the circulation system is a daily task, which keeps the pool water fresh. Pool walls are a commonly missed cleaning spot. Brush them routinely to prevent algae growth and to eliminate chemical buildup.

3. Closing Your Pool

If you don’t use your pool year-round, you’ll have to go through the steps of proper decommission to avoid any hang-ups when it’s time to open it back up. Stow all equipment including ladders, lights, and thermometers before cleaning and vacuuming the pool. After you’ve balanced the pool water, let the system run for up to twenty-four hours before adding winterizing chemicals. Once the chemicals have run through for a few hours, remove the pool equipment, and drain. Finally, cover your pool to protect it from debris during the offseason.

4. Opening Your Pool

For those who user their pools seasonally, the day you reopen your pool is cause for celebration. But before you draft up any pool party invitations, you’ll need to give it some TLC. If you use a removable pool cover be sure to store it in a safe, protected place. Fill the pool back up to the maximum fill line and clear any debris from the water’s surface. Once you’ve tested the water and properly balanced the levels, remove any winterizing plugs to get water flowing into the plumbing system again. Once you’ve tested all systems to make sure the water is being properly heated and pumped, cleaned the walls, vacuumed the floor, there’s only one thing left to do—cannonball!

5. Pool Offseason

Even when your pool is not being used it requires a watchful eye. Besides keeping your pool ready for when you open it back up, offseason maintenance will help to avoid any major repairs due to neglect. Check your pool water occasionally. Even if your pool is covered, it’s possible for leaves, sticks, and needles to make their way inside. Continue to monitor the balance of your pool water by checking the levels weekly and adjusting as needed. Check the pump, heater, and plumbing for any signs of damage and clean the filter regularly.

For more information on keeping your home and the systems in it well-maintained, read more on our blog:

Home Maintenance

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Your Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Winter is a magical season to spend at home. We all want to be able to enjoy the shorter days and longer nights from the comfort of our homes while we watch the season change.

 

To truly enjoy this winter at home with peace of mind, you’ll want to complete a home maintenance checklist to prevent unexpected costs, ensure your family’s safety and warmth, and keep your home in the best shape for the winter season ahead.

 

1. Weatherproof Windows & Doors

 

One of the best preparatory measures you can take to keep the cold from infiltrating your home is to weatherproof your windows and doors. Any leaks or cracks could lead to a chilly household and increased heating costs. Either weatherstripping or caulking will do the trick for minor leakage issues, but for any severe problems you may want to consider a replacement.

 

2. Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

 

Burst pipes can be disastrous regardless of the season, but winter temperatures pose a greater risk than any other time of the year. Be sure to wrap interior pipes to provide them some insulation against the change in temperature. You’ll want to bring all hoses inside but remember to turn off your exterior water source before you do.

 

3. Prepare for a Winter Storm

 

Being fully prepared for the winter ahead includes completing both preventative home maintenance and disaster preparedness tasks. Keep a supply of flashlights and batteries handy in case a power outage should occur. If you have a fireplace, stock up on firewood so you’ll have plenty of fuel for your heat source. It’s best for your family to put together an emergency kit and evacuation plan so you’re prepared for any local weather emergencies.

 

4. Chimney Sweep and Fireplace Maintenance

 

We become more reliant on fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and chimneys to heat our homes during the winter. Accordingly, it’s crucial to prepare for the uptick in their usage. Clear out your air vents before your daily fires begin. When your fireplace is not in use, be sure to close the damper to save energy. Clogged chimneys can lead to house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Investing in a chimney sweep can save you money in the long run, while avoiding health scares.

 

5. Clean Out Your Gutters

 

After all the leaves, pinecones, pine needles, and other autumnal debris have fallen, it’s best to clean out your gutters in preparation for winter. By keeping your gutters clean you’ll avoid gutter damage from melted snow draining improperly. Make sure your downspouts are pointing away from your home’s foundation to prevent basement leaks and flooding.

 

6. Heating System Maintenance

 

Keeping up on your heating system’s efficiency is an integral part of winter home maintenance. If you use a furnace, be sure to clean out your air filters and ducts, making replacements as needed. Covering your HVAC system can help to prevent damage from any debris or moisture getting in. To protect against heat loss, seal your ducts with mastic tape or foil tape.

 

7. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

 

If you have ceilings fans in your home, there is a handy trick you can use to improve your home’s heating efficiency. By reversing the direction of your ceiling fan—running the blades in a clockwise direction—you’ll create a slight updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling downward.

 

8. Bring Your Plants Inside

 

The winter season usually spells trouble for your potted plants. However, there are methods to keep them alive indoors through the winter months. You’ll want to provide continual air circulation, so keep a fan blowing in the direction of the plants. It’s best to mirror the conditions the plants will face outdoors, so you can afford to keep watering to a minimum. Since it is a harsher season, keep a close eye on your plants as the winter progresses.

 

After your checklist is completely crossed off, you’ll be able to kick back, relax, and enjoy your winter at home in comfort knowing your home is primed and ready for the winter season ahead.

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