My roommates sweep dust into the heating duct air returns

Although living alone can bring loneliness, I can’t figure out if I hate this more – or is living with roommates worse? You can’t be completely sure how someone is going to be as a roommate, even acquaintances you’ve “known for years.” The way someone acts a few times a week in front of friends is different from the way they act in the privacy of their own home.

  • And that’s another thing—you can’t look at the shared home or apartment as merely “your home.” It’s a shared entity, as much your roommate’s as it is yours.

If you are fortunate enough to have a roommate who treats you with mutual respect, then things should be harmonious. Unfortunately, I have roommates I don’t trust. They’re not the cleanest individuals, either. I hate being the only one willing to do drastic cleaning around the house. On rare times, I will find one of my roommates sweeping the hardwood floors. Unfortunately, they’re lazy, and usually sweep the dust and dirt into the heating duct air returns along the baseboards! This only further contaminates our heating system, I try to tell them, which dirties the filters faster. If we’re going to contribute to buying the gas furnace filters, shouldn’t we all want to keep those filters from getting needlessly filthy so quickly? That’s what I keep repeating to my roommates, but they don’t listen. They just keep sweeping the dust into the heating system – even if I mention it a thousand times.

electric heater

I purchased a filter for my car's heating and cooling system

I love my car, especially after spending so much time researching options, when I chose it. Crossover vehicles are excellent if you want something larger than a sedan,but also don’t want the excessive fuel mileage that comes with a full-sized SUV, truck or van. Every major car manufacturer has at least one crossover, which makes it difficult to pick the best choice. Although several people told me to choose Honda over Ford, I didn’t like the Honda when I took it on a test drive. Compared to my Ford, the ride was bumpy and rough. Since I commute for work, I really wanted something that was comfortable, if that was the determining factor. Also, my Ford crossover has a number of features that I love. The spare tire is easily accessible inside the floor in the trunk. All the seats fold down flat, so, if you’re doing a home improvement subject, you can haul long pieces of wood from the hardware store. Although several new vehicles have cabin filters for their heating and cooling systems, the filter tray in my Ford crossover is easier to reach. Recently, I bought a special charcoal cabin filter off the Internet. It is advertised as an odor absorber. My car didn’t smell bad, but there are many environmental odors in my area that absorb into the seats and upholstery. The charcoal cabin filter manages to absorb several of those odors before they ever get a chance to settle in your car, giving you cleaner breathing air. The air flow is a bit restricted, compared to a normal filter, but the tradeoff is worth it in my mind.

 

 

portable space heater

Always use carbon monoxide alarms if you have gas-powered appliances

There are ways to protect your family within your home.

  • The most obvious is a home security system.

If you’re worried about burglaries or other break-ins, a home security program could thwart the thief in the process, while notifying authorities, before you even have an option to react yourself. I hate having guns in the house—they too often associated with extreme masculinity, but I’ve also lost close friends to self-inflicted head gun shot wounds; both of those people were solid gun owners before their suicides. They thought the only form of protection against a criminal was a gun. But, what is the best form of protection from yourself? For me, it’s not having something in my household that can trigger a suicide by only pressing one button. I’d rather have a security system, taser, baseball bat, and pepper spray for good measure. Otherwise I worry more about protecting my family from harmful gasses. We have a gas furnace, clothes dryer and oven/stovetop. Homes with gas appliances need carbon monoxide detectors, because this toxic gas is colorless and odorless. If your gas furnace’s heat exchanger cracked, you could be getting carbon monoxide in your air, leaving your HVAC system. With carbon monoxide detectors, you never have to worry about whether toxic gas is present in your indoor air.

 

contractor

Humidifiers aren't best in high-humidity climates

Even though we get colds, and the flu every once in a while, my wife and I don’t treat them the same. This stems from our childhoods; my mother would give me cough drops, tea, cold medicine and decongestants. My wife’s parents largely ignored their kids’ cold symptoms unless they got so serious that my wife or her siblings had bronchitis. When that happened, they moved the humidifier to the sick child’s room and hoped for the best. Cold medicine was rarely given, to counteract the symptoms of her cold flu, and I feel bad because I constantly took for granted when I was getting it from my folks. That’s why I try to help them as much as I do now. Just using a humidifier to treat a cold doesn’t necessarily help. In fact, if you already live in a high humidity environment, adding more moisture to your indoor air encourages mold and mildew growth. When mold is infecting an indoor space, that’s bad for your respiratory health, if you have a head cold or a strong case of the flu. I wouldn’t recommend a humidifier in these climates, especially down south near the swamp lands. You don’t want to harbor mold growth when someone is sick, let alone with a chronic health problem. I can’t imagine having asthma and mold allergies while using a humidifier regularly.

 

heated floors

Some cooling system filters promote better air flow

Filters collect dust, dirt, lint, pollen and fungal spores.

I was frustrated as a kid when my mom had issues with her sinus and respiratory allergies. There were times we had to reclean surfaces, floors, or rooms because she was still reacting to something we couldn’t figure out. But back then I never considered this may bother me someday. I’m not as bad as mom yet, but I struggle with sinus and respiratory allergies now, and i recently began taking medication everyday as a preventative measure for my chronic dust sensitivity symptoms. It’s frustrating because I can’t do much about the allergens in the air whenever I’m not home. When I’m home, I use my cooling system to filter my breathing air. I pay more for the higher quality air filters that also provide better air flow. The cooling system filters I used to buy had the side effect of blocking much of the air flow, moving in and out of the system. If you can find a filter with optimal air flow, you’ll have better HVAC performance in the long run. Filters collect dust, dirt, lint, pollen and fungal spores. My allergen filters are terrific; they easily collect bacterial and viral pathogens as well. They are too small to be caught by most cheaper filters. If you have respiratory issues, you’ll go out of your way to use the best cooling system filters you can find.

electric heat pump

You have to be careful when insulating your attic space

My brother is a hardcore DIY-er, especially with home remodelling.

He learned how to use power tools from our father and has been fanatical with these skills ever since.

I can’t imagine how his wife would feel if he developed more skills; he starts a new project before finishing the previous. He has a second bathroom that is about 80-percent complete and a kitchen that is 70-percent done. I don’t fault him at all for wanting to undertake these kinds of projects, however she should at least focus on finishing several of them before launching another one. At times, he’ll start a project that leaves me wondering if he’s making the right decisions. He built a make-shift loft in his house without getting any permits, or advice from a building dealer. The project survived for a year. He kept filling it with more storage boxes that he unloaded from storage units. Eventually he heard a loud cracking noise, and saw boxes topple onto the floor, as one of the support beams buckled underneath the weight from above! You’d think he would have learned his lesson with the loft, but now he’s going to try to make his attic air thin for insulation purposes. He thinks he will save large amounts of money on heating and cooling his northern home if he insulates the attic and prevents any cold air from getting in from outside. However, he doesn’t realize that attics need ventilation to allow wind to pass through. Otherwise high winds can do drastic roof damage. Your HVAC performance might push you to make a hasty decision to insulate, but you should consult with an HVAC specialist first.

 

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My bills dropped after I installed a heat pump

It’s smart to look for ways to save money on regular expenses.

  • My grocery bills have gone down now that I’m shopping at inexpensive grocery stores, whenever I’m not shopping in bulk at warehouse stores.

My coffee is much cheaper this way, so I can try new flavors occasionally. Another example are my toiletries, and health and beauty items like oral hygiene items, soaps and shampoos, hand lotion and deodorant. Even hardware products like light bulbs, tape, lawn mower blades, ladders and shelves are cheaper at some superstores, affording me another reason to buy food there. After creating a better budget, and sticking with it, I slashed my energy expenses at home. A year ago, I learned my cooling system and electric gas furnace were not the most energy efficient systems for my home. My HVAC professional told me a heat pump would cover all of those bases, especially since it’s never below 30 degrees here during cold winter snaps. This year saw some of the coldest weather on record, and still it was only 32 degrees at its coldest, early one morning. My heat pump not only saves me on energy, it’s more effective at home heating than an electric gas furnace. It’s nice being in control of my finances, with lower, gentler bills, while feeling more relief in the cold weather.

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The cost of propane is rising every winter

I hate the cost of energy, be it the gasoline for your car or the gas used for your appliances at home.

The current historic inflation levels are the worst for the energy sector, although goods and services are not far behind with their own price increases.

I used to grill on my barbecue several times a week, but I don’t suppose I can afford the little bit of propane needed to grill an entire meal in frosty weather on my porch. Instead, I need that propane for my other home appliances. For instance, I have a gas-powered clothes dryer, because I was sick of the higher cost to run an electric dryer. Then once the gas line was installed, my family and I figured we could upgrade the electric oven range, which we followed with the purchase of a gas furnace. We saw a significant drop in our bills by switching from electric to gas, but this was in the years leading up to the COVID pandemic. Once the historic inflation hit, gas costs shot up and we’re unquestionably feeling the burn. Each successive year has seen an increase in the price of propane locally, so much so that my wife and I paid to install a wood stove in the home office, with a flue running to the ceiling and through the attic it filtered through the rooftop above. Now, we can supplement our gas furnace with a wood stove. We are thankful to live on 10 acres of land that has plenty of dying trees. This will last us the rest of our lives.

 

cooling equipment

Splitting wood is getting harder every winter as I age

He asked me, why hurt my body to prove something to myself and others? A wood splitter is a great way to split wood for a wood-burning heating setup, whether a wood stove, fireplace, or wood gas furnace

Even though I’m not yet 40, my body is already starting to feel some of the effects of aging. My knees are especially susceptible; they have gotten weaker since my early 20s when I was still athletic. It’s not that I’ve stopped exercising, it’s usually low impact on my knees. But if I try to get on my rollerblades, which require strong knees and legs, I see how incredibly out of shape I am. Unfortunately, my arms are also affected by aging. I had a serious injury to my left arm a few years ago, and now it’s getting harder to split wood with an ax. I had this bias built into my mind that I was not a “tough guy” if I couldn’t swing an ax any longer. That stupid mindset dissolved completely when I tried my friend’s electric wood splitter. He’s one of the most muscular guys I know, but his back isn’t the same after a work accident years ago. Despite the weak back, he still trains with his upper body and has huge biceps. He asked me, why hurt my body to prove something to myself and others? A wood splitter is a great way to split wood for a wood-burning heating setup, whether a wood stove, fireplace, or wood gas furnace. After my next paycheck, the following week, I bought my own wood splitter. Now I don’t have to worry about hurting my body to heat my house.
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My electrician dad

It’s great when dad visits me at my house.

I usually have a fine bottle of scotch on top of the fridge to offer him whenever he arrives. Sometimes he brings a case of chicken wings so we can watch basketball or football on my 60-inch television. Other times he comes to help with projects that I can’t do alone. As stupid as it sounds, I had never installed a p-trap or u-pipe under a sink before. My dad said it was his fault—he should have taught me this when I was younger. But I’m just happy to learn these skills at all, even if it takes him longer to get around to teaching me. Even though he’s an electrician, he hasn’t been able to teach me everything he knows. I don’t expect him to, because some of an electrician’s necessary skills involve handling high voltages and high amperage currents that could kill if not treated respectfully. I thought I could install a ductless mini-split on my own without any help, after I watched a short video on the internet. However, I didn’t know this would require creating a new breaker in my electrical box. That was beyond my capabilities. Thankfully, my dad was happy to come over and help me install the new ductless mini-split HVAC system. He had the breaker wired in under 30 minutes, leaving me impressed and amazed. I hope someday I can be as proficient at my own career as my father is with electricity.

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