Tag Archives: winter

A more comfortable home? It’s a resolution you can keep.

We all go through it: January rolls around, and we make lists of resolutions that we struggle to keep past the first week of the year. But good intentions aside, a new year is a perfect time to say sayonara to the holiday craziness, to recover from parties and gift-wrapping, and to regroup back to a more peaceful pace.

Plus, now that schedules have returned to a somewhat manageable level, it may be time to hit “play” on the home tasks that have been paused from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Maybe it’s planning that addition that will finally give you space to host the holidays next year, or rethinking the attic’s lack of insulation that makes your home heating bills go – literally – through the roof.

For Brenda Sramek, Hyde Park homeowner since 1999, 2014 was the final New Years that she decided to live with flaws that made her home and budget uncomfortable. “Since I purchased my house, it has always been chilly in the winter,” she said. “I got used to wearing layers of clothing in the winter and dealing with it. I was tired of living like that.”

Sramek’s solution? Call in the experts: Malcarne Contracting. “I agreed to have an energy audit with Malcarne and was not surprised at the results,” she said. “It took me a year to decide to have the work done, for no other reason than wondering if the scope of the work would really work.”

According to owner Joseph Malcarne, that’s a great question to ask: Do these energy-saving changes actually save money and make your home more comfortable to live in? The answer’s absolutely yes – if they’re done correctly. With a professionally done energy audit, not only does Malcarne let you know up-front how much the job will cost, but how much you’re projected to pocket each year once energy-saving changes are made.

In October of 2014, Sramek’s home was specially insulated and caulked from attic to basement, and advanced energy panels were installed on her basement windows. “After each work item was completed, I noticed a difference in how often the heat would come on and how long it stayed warm in the house,” she said. “Once the wood tongue-and-groove cathedral ceiling was insulated, it made a huge difference. The room was much quieter – a nice surprise – and so much warmer.”

But Sramek’s love of her home is more than a feeling: It also boils down to black-and-white savings. In 2014-2015, she used 28.5 percent less fuel to heat her home – better than the 25 percent that Malcarne calculated she’d save – and that winter was colder than the previous one. “With all the work being done in the basement, especially sealing up the ductwork, I wondered if the basement would be cold since the leaky ducts were heating the basement,” she said. “It is now toasty and warm – and the basement is heated only by the heat radiating from the exhaust pipe from the furnace.”

Now that the blur of holiday concerts, shopping and gatherings is through, it’s a great time to start 2016 on the right foot. For your home, there’s no better way to do that than with a makeover that can actually help you fulfill your resolution to save more of your hard-earned cash – without pressure from someone who’s looking to make a quick buck.

“I would absolutely recommend Malcarne for the energy-saving work,” said Sramek. “When I had questions, they were answered promptly and professionally. If I had concerns or minor issues, they were resolved quickly, no questions asked. Everyone I had contact with at Malcarne is down-to-earth and a pleasure to work with. Most importantly, I trusted them.”

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Preparing Your Home For Winter

Sandal and swim-suit season seems like only yesterday, but Old Man Winter’s right around the corner. You can procrastinate over digging out that fleece-lined parka and your fuzzy mittens, but, take it from the experts at Malcarne Contracting: No matter how difficult it is to say so long to summer, don’t put off getting your house ready for the upcoming season. The good news is, preparing your home for the winter and its icy temperatures means a series of small, inexpensive precautions that ultimately make a huge difference in the way your home handles the cold.

While you spend the summer keeping the air conditioner company, get to know your heating system – before you need to turn it on. Boilers – systems running on oil – should be serviced once a year, and their filters and nozzles changed every fall to prepare for winter. Furnaces also have filters – and most manufacturers recommend changing those every three months, in addition to being serviced by a professional every fall. Gas-fired units should receive a tune-up every two years.

Keeping these heating systems clean and running smoothly – what the professionals call “system efficiency” – is key. Also, making sure the distribution system, the duct work and piping that delivers the heat that is generated by your heating system, is working correctly is important, as a clogged filter, for example, may mean your furnace isn’t functioning properly. Or, a loose piece of ductwork, knocked out during your trek to the attic for vacation suitcases, may make one side of the house feel frosty, although the other end of the home is sweltering at 80. Keeping a balanced system means regular visits from a professional, but maintaining your heating unit is a small investment with a big return, ensuring optimal energy efficiency – and saving you money on that utility bill.

While these maintenance checks are important, they’re also pieces in the greater puzzle that is your abode. For example, a heating system is only as good as your home’s insulation, which ensures a comfortable, energy-efficient house, and should be checked regularly. Outdoor hoses connected to water spigots should be removed and taken inside in the fall, and the water turned off.
Avoid damage to your home’s exterior by inspecting your deck and siding once a year, replacing any cracked, splintered or rotting boards as soon as possible, and cleaning gutters and down spouts in the spring and fall. If you have a chimney, repair any cracks before the first frost: Ice in any cracks can damage it considerably. Keep seasonal pollen, dust and other allergens at bay by limiting the amount your doors and windows stay open, cleaning and vacuuming regularly, and making sure those heating filters are fresh.

Malcarne’s expert opinion? Whether it was built last year or last century, look at your home as a whole each fall. If you’re unsure of your home’s inner-workings or it’s been a while since it’s been professionally evaluated, the staff at Malcarne can make the process simple, checking your house’s insulation, heating and ventilation systems, window and door weather-stripping – everything you need to prepare for winter, from attic to basement.

As a general rule, Malcarne recommends giving your home that once-over early in the season, before the end of October. Thankfully, if you’re faithful with keeping up your home’s regular maintenance, preparing it for another Hudson Valley winter won’t empty your bank account. In fact, your family’s biggest winterizing investment may be those new boots your kids have been eyeing up. Your house? It’s all set for the snow.

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