Category Archives: Winterizing

6 Tips to Save Money While You’re on Vacation

As winter arrives in North Dakota, warm, sunny beaches start to call our names! Are you heading out on a winter vacation? More than likely you have had the mail held and asked a neighbor to keep an eye on things while you are away, but did you remember to ready your electricity and HVAC system for your absence? It is important for not only cost savings, but also safety reasons.

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Below are six tips to remember when the packing is done and you are almost ready to set sail in paradise.

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Reset the thermostat on your HVAC system to 60 degrees. This will save you money without risking frozen pipes and flooding, while still preventing moisture from building up on your primary heat exchanger, which could cause a possible shortage as well as mildew problems. Temperatures below freezing make it unsafe to turn the thermostat entirely off, and in our area we have the humidity working against us. We also tend to turn the heat back up to 72 or higher upon our return, causing extra stress to the HVAC unit. A programmable thermostat makes it convenient to remotely check on the temperature in your house and slowly increase the heat back to a comfortable setting over a couple of days, helping to prevent overworking your HVAC unit.

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This lower temperature will prevent water in the lines and tank from freezing and causing damage, but won’t keep hot water on hand that you are not going to be using. If you are not quite sure how to change the water heater to its “vacation” setting, give us a call!

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Turn off the water supply to washing machines and toilets; this can help avoid an unexpected leak while you’re away. Double-check the insulation around water pipes that are close to unheated areas and add insulation if needed, as an added precaution to prevent a frozen pipe while you’re away.

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Be sure all interior doors are open. This will keep the heat circulating throughout the entire house and create less of a chance for cold spots where a pipe could freeze or a plant might die from inadequate warmth. If you have someone checking your home, it is a good idea to place a thermometer where it can easily be seen to notify the person of any dangerous temperature drops in your home.

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Set your refrigerator to 42 degrees and freezer to 5 degrees, to save money while also reducing the odds of returning home to spoiled food. If you are heading off on an extended vacation, donate or discard perishable food items and unplug your fridge to save even more. Also, unplug any “vampire appliances” that continue to use energy even when they are not in use, such as televisions, lamps, entertainment systems and coffee makers.

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If you don’t have motion detectors, it is a good idea to consider investing in them, especially when going on extended vacations. If you do, make sure all the lights are in working order and time them to come on in the evening as the sun sets. You could even set a radio on a timer to ward off possible burglars.

We hope these tips help you have a wonderful, stress-free vacation! If you would like additional information on the care and maintenance of your HVAC system, or help with prepping your system for an extended vacation, or to schedule services to make sure your system is running optimally, contact Vilandres and we would be happy to come give your unit a tune-up before your trip begins.

The Cost of Water Leaks

Did your water bill spike this month and you’re not sure why? A water leak may be to blame. The plumbing in your home or business is part of a simple but well-organized system that needs maintenance to perform efficiently, and it may require  a plumbing professional from time to time for emergency services such as this. Left unfixed, even the smallest of leaks can cause a higher utility bill, or worse, serious damage to your structure that can be expensive to repair.

What is the cost of a water leak? There are many varying factors that can affect the cost of leaks, such as the length of time it’s been occurring, the size of the leak, and the pressure of the water system. This chart gives you an idea of how a small amount of running or leaking water can cost you big.*

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*Chart based on estimates, not exact numbers. Calculations based on Grand Forks Public Works information and Grand Forks residential flow rates.

In addition to higher utility bills, leaks can also result in problems such as mold and water damage to flooring and fixtures. Monitoring your home or business and locating a leak as early as possible can prevent costly water and repair bills. The most common cause for a high water bill is toilet leaks, as these can be unseen and even silent. To check a toilet for leaks, put some food coloring dye into the tank and wait 15 to 20 minutes without flushing; if the food coloring appears in the bowl, there is a leak. As toilet leaks can be inconsistent, you may have to perform this test multiple times.

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In order to keep plumbing costs at a minimum, do your best to be proactive with your structure and keep an eye out for running water or leaks. The sooner an issue is identified, the less time it has to cause damage to your home or office and create expensive repairs. Call a plumber sooner rather than later if you suspect a leak of any kind, and remember — Vilandre is available with 24/7 emergency services, including weekends, nights, and holidays, for your convenience.

How to Save $ This Winter

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Here at Vilandre, we are available 24/7 in case of emergency and happy to help install your new HVAC and plumbing purchases, and on top of our great products and services, we are also here to help save you money! As a hometown, family-owned and -operated business, we take pride in the work we do and care about our customers. For over 80 years our company has been serving the Grand Forks community and all of our employees live and work here, too, so we know that when winter comes the utility bills go up. This month, we want to share some of our tips and tricks to help you save this season!

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  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent it from overworking; the water will still be plenty warm for use in your home.
  • Use cold water when washing your clothes to save an average of $30-$40 per year.
  • Turn your thermostat down 5 degrees at night and anytime you’re away from your house. A programmable thermostat makes this option a piece of cake!
  • Take advantage of the heat sunlight produces by opening curtains on your south-facing windows during the day, to allow the natural light to help heat your home.
  • Move furniture away from vents to allow the proper flow of heat throughout your home.

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  • Have water-efficient showerheads and faucets installed, which can reduce water consumption by up to 10%.
  • Insulate behind your outlets. The faceplates on both outlets and light switches are extremely thin, and can allow a significant amount of heat to escape.
  • Plug home electronics into power strips and turn them off when not in use. Many electronics use energy when they are shut off, especially computers and phone chargers.
  • During winter months, cover your drafty windows with heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames. Double-check to be sure that the plastic is sealed tightly to prevent air leaks.
  • As your light bulbs burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs. The initial investment will be more, but they last on average 25 times longer and use less energy than traditional bulbs, saving you money in the long run.
  • Weatherize your home by locating and sealing off any air leaks, so the heat in your home has fewer places to escape from. Learn more about locating and repairing air leaks here.
  • Insulating your home can help you save as much as 20% on utility bills.The most cost-effective method would be to add insulation to your attic, unfinished basement walls, and crawlspaces.
  • Have your heater inspected annually to be sure it is functioning at maximum efficiency and operating safely.
  • The biggest money saver available is to replace your old, inefficient HVAC system with a high-efficiency unit. This can result in upwards of 60% savings on your energy bills, and you will be saving each month for the next 10 to 20 years!

To determine specifically where the most savings can be gained in your own home, have a specialist come out and conduct an energy assessment. For more advice on how to save, from programmable thermostats to upgrading your appliances, give us a call and we would be happy to visit with you and help you save this winter!