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September
21

National Tune-Up Day is September 25 - Get Your Home Ready for Cold Weather Ahead

Get your home ready for fall

The start of fall offers many things to look forward to, with warm days, cool, crisp nights, and beautiful foliage to enjoy. It's also the perfect time to make sure your HVAC system is ready for the winter, which is why National Tune-Up Day is observed on September 25th. National Tune-Up Day is a reminder to have your heating system serviced by the pros, to maximize efficiency and address any issues before the cold weather arrives. Our real estate agents have the details on five local HVAC companies that can service your system.

Why It's So Important to Have Your HVAC System Serviced
Whether you've just moved in after shopping for West Virginia real estate or have lived in your home for a long time, your HVAC system is key to comfort during the winter. Regular maintenance ensures your system is working at maximum efficiency and helps identify small issues before they become big ones. Having your system serviced by the pros before the cold weather arrives will make life much easier, which is why National Tune-Up Day happens every year at the start of fall.

Local HVAC Companies

  1. Mountain Valley Home Comfort – 260 Charles St., Harrisonburg, VA 22802
    With more than 30 years of experience providing service for homeowners and Virginia homes for sale, you can count on Mountain Valley Home Comfort to keep your heating system in great shape. In addition to conventional HVAC systems, Mountain Valley Home Comfort also services ductless and geothermal heating systems so you can expect great service no matter how you heat your home.
  2. Excel Heating & Cooling – 1030 Greystone St., Harrisonburg, VA 22802
    offers a full range of HVAC services for both residential and commercial customers in the Harrisonburg area. You can count on Excel Heating & Cooling to keep your system running at its best, and the team is also available 24/7 if you run into a heating issue that needs to be addressed right away.
  3. Virginia Service Pro – 1537 Jefferson Hwy., Fishersville, VA 22939
    National Tune-Up Day isn't just for your home! It's also a reminder to have the HVAC system at your business serviced too. The team at Virginia Service Pro specializes in commercial HVAC systems. Keep your heating system working great, for the benefit of your customers and employees. Virginia Service Pro can also handle refrigeration systems, boilers, and a wide range of mechanical work.
  4. Valley Comfort Systems – 924 S High St., Harrisonburg, VA 22801
    Have a busy schedule, and need to arrange your heating system tune-up for a night or weekend? That's no problem for the team at Valley Comfort Systems, which is happy to schedule an appointment at any time that works for you. A fall tune-up from Valley Comfort Systems can help you save money on heating costs and stay comfortable this winter.
  5. Morris Heating & Cooling – 1044 W Market St., Harrisonburg, VA 2280
    Family-owned and operated since its foundation in 2005, Morris Heating & Cooling has the experience and knowledge to get your job done right the first time. The licensed, certified pros at Morris Heating & Cooling provide a full range of HVAC services, including the annual maintenance that's so important at this time of year.

Are you still searching for the perfect home to call your own this fall? Our team is here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes in Virginia's Central Shenandoah Valley and Eastern West Virginia.

January
6

10 Ways to Slash Your Energy Bills

Cut Your Energy Costs Day

Celebrate National Cut Your Energy Costs Day on January 10 in West Virginia and Virginia.

January 10 is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day.  In our last blog, we discovered ways Staunton home buyers use to save energy and money in their living spaces.  Ahead, our REALTORS® explore how homeowners throughout West Virginia and Virginia save energy in their homes too.

  1. Install a programmable thermostat
    A programmable thermostat allows you to set your heater or air conditioner to operate less when you're away from home or asleep and to run more when you're headed home or close to waking up. This helps make your home more comfortable while not wasting energy.
  2. Use a ceiling fan
    A ceiling fan can help lower energy costs in both summer and winter, but it should only be left running if someone's in the room because it doesn't heat or cool the room itself but instead makes the people in it feel cooler or warmer. Switch it to run clockwise in the winter at its lowest speed so it pulls cool air toward the ceiling and pushes the warm air down toward the floor. The fan should run counterclockwise in the summer so it pushes cooler air downward.
  3. Replace your furnace filter
    A furnace filter becomes dirty over time, making your HVAC unit work harder and driving up your energy costs. Replacing your furnace filter every three months or so is inexpensive and can help it run more efficiently.
  4. Choose energy-efficient light bulbs
    Replace your incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED lights, which last longer and also use less electricity. They may be more expensive to buy, but they're much more energy-efficient.
  5. Use cold water for most laundry
    Most laundry can be easily cleaned using your washer's cold water cycle. This saves electricity since the water used for a cold cycle doesn't have to be heated.
  6. Install a low-flow showerhead
    A standard showerhead uses about five to eight gallons of water per minute, while low-flow showerheads can use as few as 1.6 gallons a minute. By installing a low-flow showerhead, you won't have to pay to heat as much water, and you'll also save on your water bill.
  7. Caulk and weatherstrip to seal gaps
    Seal gaps around your doors and windows. This keeps your warmed air inside in the winter and cold air outside and keeps cooled air inside in the summer and hot air outside.
  8. Turn off "phantom" power
    Some of our electronic devices use power – which is often referred to as phantom or vampire power – even when they're turned off or are on standby mode. Plug these devices into a power strip that you can turn off when they aren't being used. If you buy a newer strip, it may have an automatic shut-off feature to make it even more convenient.
  9. Add or replace insulation if needed
    Make sure your home has adequate insulation in the attic. If sections are missing, you don't have enough insulation, or it doesn't have a high-enough R-value (which determines its insulating power), you should add what's needed to help reduce your heating and cooling costs.
  10. Let the sun in or block it out
    Open your blinds or other window coverings to let the sun in to warm your home in the winter, and close them to keep the sun from shining in and making your home too hot in the summer.

Cutting energy costs is important, especially during the winter cold and summer heat in Virginia and West Virginia. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty when it comes time to buy or sell in our area.

December
23

6 Ways to Make Your Staunton Home More Energy Efficient

Staunton Energy Efficient Homes
Whether you've fallen in love with one of our sprawling single-family homes or a quaint residential condo, there's one thing every buyer looking at Staunton homes for sale can agree on — low utility bills are a must. Even in the largest homes, it's possible to significantly reduce your monthly electrical bill with a few simple decisions. Our REALTORS® have found that many homeowners in the area use these six tips to decrease their utility bills and run a more energy-efficient home.  

  1. Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances
    Regardless if you've just purchased your home or if you're considering selling in the near future, purchasing energy-efficient appliances is an effective way to curb energy consumption. Refrigerators, ovens, washers, and dryers are all available but don't feel like you're limited to the kitchen and laundry room. Smart technology has integrated into nearly every room of the home, with many products also enhancing energy efficiency. Smart HVAC systems can learn your heating and cooling patterns, smart faucets can control water flow and smart exterior lighting can keep your property safe without draining energy.

  2. Invest in Insulation & Air Sealing
    Another great investment in your home is to air seal and insulate spaces where heat transfers. Attics are an especially significant area where heat transfer causes your HVAC usage to skyrocket during every season of the year. Along with those found in your windows and doors, there are many other small cracks and holes throughout your interior and exterior that allow air to flow freely. By air sealing and insulating your home, you can keep your home comfortable without overtaxing your HVAC systems.

  3. Limit Electricity Use
    This may sound obvious, but most homeowners don't realize that even leaving phone chargers or monitor chords plugged in throughout the day draws a lot of power. Get in the habit of unplugging items that aren't in use and limiting which lights you keep on throughout the house. If possible, use daylight as much as you can and make a point to unplug small appliances throughout the house before you go to bed.

  4. Replace Your Bulbs
    You can lower your energy consumption without turning off your lights, too. In fact, simply switching your old lightbulbs for energy-efficient LED lighting can dramatically decrease your energy bill and limit the amount of heat these light sources produce.

  5. Consider Solar Panels
    Solar panels are rising in popularity. These resources convert the sun's rays to energy that you can use to power systems such as your hot water tanks. Solar panels can be a pricey investment, however, they may be a practical tool that helps you save money now and increases your home's value during a future sale.

  6. Perform an Energy Audit
    Do you know where your home is wasting energy? A professional energy audit will tell you exactly which areas of your home are consuming the most energy. We recommend that all Staunton homeowners who are serious about energy efficiency schedule an audit before taking any other steps. Based on your results, you'll know whether or not you need to invest in new appliances, replace your windows, or tend to other aspects of your home.

For assistance buying and selling homes in Staunton, contact us today!

June
12

Cooling Down AC Costs in Your Staunton Home

5 Tips for Staying Cool in Staunton without Breaking the Budget

Cooling Down A/C Costs

Summer is just around the corner in Staunton and your A/C system will soon be working overtime. There's nothing like stepping through the door of your comfortable, air-conditioned home after a day in the summer sun--the good news is that keeping your home cool doesn't have to break the bank. Our REALTORS® have created these simple, money-saving, home cooling tips so you don't have to sacrifice air-conditioned comfort this summer.

Start by understanding how much energy you're using and where that energy is going. Running the A/C all day long naturally costs more than running it in shorter intervals, but the efficiency of your cooling system also plays a big role in costs. Once you have an idea of how much you're paying, you can get to work on lowering those costs.

  1. A/C, As Needed
    Running the air-conditioning while nobody's home is an easy way to rack up high cooling bills. You don't have to run the system all day for your home to be cool when your return. Consider picking up a smart thermostat, so that you can set your home to be a comfortable temperature when you arrive without wasting energy and money. When you're home, set the thermostat to the highest temperature where you still feel comfortable.

  2. Ceiling Fans
    Ceiling fans are an excellent way to keep cool during the evening and on those summer days that aren't total scorchers. Running a fan won't really cool the air in the room, but it moves the air around and the wind-chill factor makes the air feel cooler than it actually is. Ceiling, box and window fans can all be efficient sources of cooling during the summer. The extra cooling from a fan may also allow you to set the A/C a few degrees warmer to save on energy. 

  3. A/C Maintenance
    Central air-conditioning is a beautiful thing in the summer. Keeping up with regular maintenance is one of the most important steps to lowering cooling costs. Be sure to check your filters regularly based on the manufacturer's instructions. Call in an HVAC pro at the start of each summer to make sure your system is ready to operate at maximum efficiency.

  4. Efficient Appliances
    Buying new A/C equipment is a significant investment, but opting for a more efficient heating and cooling system may save you money in the long run. Look for the EnergySTAR label when shopping for a new A/C system paying close attention to those efficiency ratings. While it doesn't apply directly to cooling costs, shopping for more efficient kitchen, laundry and electronic appliances is also a great way to save on costs year-round.

  5. Seal Drafts
    Sealing drafts is a common project in the winter to keep cool air out of homes in Staunton and doing the same in the summer will help you keep the cool air inside. Silicone caulk works wonders around the doors, windows and vents where drafts most commonly develop and sealing is an easy DIY project to tackle.

Still searching for the perfect place to keep cool this summer in Staunton, VA? Our team is here to help you find the right home, for the right price. Contact Old Dominion Realty to buy and sell homes in Staunton, VA.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

 

January
27

Wintertime Home Energy Savings Tips

8 Awesome Ideas to Save Money on Your Heating Bills

Wintertime Home Energy Saving Tips
Wintertime brings a whole host of issues to homeowners. If you're not dealing with shoveling snow or insulating your pipes, you're probably agonizing over your recent energy bills.  Nothing affects the budget like costly heating during a cold, wet winter.  The good news is your energy bill doesn't have to create such a large impact. Here are some energy saving tips to get you through another Winter Storm Jonas or any additional Snowmageddons without breaking the bank.

1. Prevent Drafts

When the weather is below freezing outside a draft can quickly work against your heating system. If you didn't take time in late fall to go around the house and find any spots where air is getting in, it's not too late. Check windows, doors, plumbing vents, furnace ducts, recessed lights, attic openings, basements, and wiring holes. Any place you feel the breeze, seal it with the correct materials, like caulk, spray foam, and weatherstripping. Remember sealing from the inside is more effective. Also add heavy curtains over your windows if you can't afford to replace older, drafty panes quite yet.

2. Alternative Heating

It's hard to turn down the thermostat when your home feels so good toasty warm. Just remember, the Department of Energy tells you for every degree you lower your thermostat your bill will be one percent less. Find other ways to stay warm while taking down the heat a couple notches. Try things like:

  • Using a space heater in the room you spend the most time in, and turn it off when you leave.
  • Wearing extra layers.
  • Investing in a good pair of socks or slippers.
  • Use your fireplace.
  • Pull out the cozy sweaters and blankets, especially for when you're relaxing on the couch with a good movie.

3. Conserve Hot Water

Heating water can cost a pretty penny. Make a challenge to everyone in the family to shorten their showers by a few minutes each. If you want to add to your savings, invest in a low flow showerhead.

4. Get Routine Maintenance

Your annual budget should always include routine maintenance for your house systems. When systems, like your HVAC or furnace, are working well, it can save you a bundle in energy costs.

5. Go Hi-Tech

Some of the newest thermostats on the market allow you to control the heat of your home from your phone. If you know you're going to be a few hours late, reprogram the thermostat to save energy until you're on the way home.

6. Work with Sunny Days

On sunny winter days open the curtains or blinds over windows with direct sun exposure to let the light in. The sun's natural heat will warm the room, and as the light dims you can close the curtains to hold it in.

7. Insulate your Attic

It's not the most fun project in the world, but an insulated attic will cut unnecessary heat loss. Talk to the local building department to see what insulation they recommend for your area and the age of your house.

8. Avoid Fireplace Heat Loss

If your fireplace draws cold air from outside, you're going to want to get a pair of airtight doors for your modern insert. Older fireplaces can be reworked as well, but the doors will need vents. Just remember to only keep the vents open when the fireplace is in use. Another solution is a chimney-top damper that stops heat loss.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

Making little changes can be an effective way to add up the energy savings. If you're looking for a new house this winter, make sure to contact the team at Old Dominion Realty.

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