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The Geospring hot water heater.

Builders Show Day #3

Here are a few more items that caught Greg's eye at the International Builders Show in Orlando this past weekend:

  • The Geospring hybrid water heater. This nifty unit can save up to 62% on water heating costs and features a demand response system called "nucleus" the works with the power company to run when the rates are lowest. This, folks, is what you'd called a "smart appliance." Glad to see Smart Grid-ready products and appliances had their place at IBS this year.

  • Brizo's "Solna" faucet with a hidden pull down. I won't say I'm crazy about kitchen faucets, but I can appreciate small advances in their aesthetics by reducing the obviousness of the seam. The MagneDock Technology that holds the pull down in place deserves mention, too.

  • Tamko's Solar Attic Vent, powered by a 20-watt solar panel. A must for most attics, the Tamko product ventilates up to 1,600 square feet.

  • Congrats to NAHB for another successful Builders Show. Let's hope 2011 is a busy one for everybody in the industry.

    The Locke Homestead in Lockeport, Nova Scotia, built 1876.

    The Mystery of the Rainwater Collection System | Plumbing and Roofing Materials

    I went on vacation last week to Allendale, Nova Scotia, where my Loyalist ancestors came way back in the 1780s. Allendale is just up the road from Lockeport, a small port and fishing community settled back in 1762 by Jonathan Locke and Josiah Churchill. In 1876 Henry Locke, a descendant of Jonathan's, built this grand Victorian home overlooking the port, where the comings and goings of ships could be monitored easily. Now owned by Fred Partridge--also a descendant--it houses an interesting mystery.

    Up under the roof, built into the attic, is a rainwater collection system that somehow collects rain from the roof and deposits it via four attic pipes down into a basement cistern, which would have been used for all sorts of purposes back in its pre-modern plumbing days.

    You might think it is an easy system to figure out, but Fred--who knows his home and home improvement--hasn't been able to figure this one out. Even when the roof was redone a few years ago neither he nor the workers up on the roof could find signs of how exactly the water collects in the pipes in the attic before dropping to the basement. It definitely has nothing to do with the external gutter system.

    For a look at the attic piping system, go to the MyProject page I set up with more images. Have you ever seen a system like this?

    An installed Skuttletight, in the slightly raised position.

    Skuttletight Prevents Energy Loss Into the Attic | Attic Insulation and Energy Efficiency

    Although many homeowners know it, it's worth repeating that the home's access point to the attic--often referred to as the skuttle--can be the location of serious energy loss during both the heating and cooling seasons.

    The Skuttletight is an insulated attic system designed to greatly reduce energy loss through the attic skuttle. Suitable for new construction or retrofits, the Skuttletight can fit attic hatches, entryways, stairs, covers and doors.

    Skuttletight makes two options--one for the ceiling entrance and one for a kneewall entrance. The former, called the Model ST-100, is built with internal weatherstripping and EPS foam that give it an R-40 insulating value. The kneewall panel, called the Model ST-200 SW, has an R-19 insulating value.

    Prices vary across the country, but a homeowner can expect to pay around $200 for the energy-saving Skuttletight, which, as an insulating system, also qualifies for the energy tax credit.

    Both Skuttletight units are best installed using a professional contractor. Dealer locators are found on the company's website.

    To determine if the home needs the extra insulating properties of a system like the Skuttletight, homeowners should look into getting a Home Energy Audit. If the auditor uses a thermal imaging device, have a look at the results on the attic entry space. You might be shocked by what you see. Check out the image on this page which shows energy loss through an attic space looking through a Forward Looking Infrared camera, used to identify energy loss problem spots.

    What steps have you taken to seal up your home lately?

    The Shuttercover Trim to Fit keeps warm in and cold air out.

    Another Way to Save Heat and Money

    It's not monsters in the attic you have to worry about. It's the cold.

    Here is yet another way to save money this winter, this time with an eye on heat loss into the attic.

    The Shuttercover Trim to Fit is an insulated cover for the shutters of your whole-house attic fan. Because the louvers on an attic fan are not airtight or insulated, a home in the winter loses warm air through them, driving up the utility bills.

    The Shuttercover Trim to Fit contains the hot air within the home by sealing up the vent's shutters. A simple adhesive loop fastener installation method makes it easy to set up and trim the cover to fit.

    The covers are 1/4-inch think and have an R-value of 7.5. They come in 36" x 48" and 48" x 48" squares, with the latter retailing for about $50. You can find them at a number of hardware stores like Ace, Lowes and Grainger.

    Would you use a Shuttercover to save money this winter?

    Photo courtesy of Solar Star.

    A Cooler Summer

    It makes sense that an attic fan can save you money. After all, it keeps your top floor cool so you don't need as much air conditioning -- reducing your bill up to 30%.

    So you can see why this tax-credit-worthy fan caught my attention. This solar powered attic fan from Solar Star, doesn't need electricity to keep it running and lowers your electric bill by keeping your house cooler. Bonus: It installs in 30 minutes and is eligible for the 30% federal tax credit. Sounds like a good deal to me.

    This unused attic could be converted into additional living space.

    Making Use of Little-Used Space

    There is a new trend in home remodeling. Instead of blueprints for a new home or a large addition, designers are beginning to see plans for transforming little-used space. This cost and time-efficient method is one of the best ways to improve your home. For example, you can sacrifice part of an adjacent dining room that is rarely used in order to remodel your kitchen. Also, space under stairs can be turned into office space, a laundry room, etc. Storage shelves high in children’s rooms are a good idea, too. The most popular examples of transforming space are when basements or attics are turned into living spaces. Utilizing the space you already own is definitely a great way to remodel.

    Consider converting attic space into a bedroom to increase the resale value of your home.

    Top 4 Homeseller Must-Do Makeovers

    Preparing to sell your house can be an overwhelming time. One of the biggest worries is whether you'll get the sale price on your home. HGTV.com suggests four home updates every seller must do. They are:

    1. Minor Bathroom Remodel
    2. Siding Replacement
    3. Minor Kitchen Remodel
    4. Attic Bedroom

    For each remodel, the article includes the cost of the project, the average resale value and the percentage of the cost recovered. Very useful information if you're considering a renovation and planning a future resale.

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