Sylvestre Construction, Inc.

In This Issue

• Sky-High Energy Bills?
  Check Your Attic!

• “Right-Sizing” Home
   Heating & Cooling

• This Month's Tip

• Pass It On!

• What’s the Story?

Quick Links

Construction, Inc.

7708 5th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55423

Ph: 612-861-0188
Fx:  612-861-0190

Contact Us

Find us on Facebook

Member, National Association of the Remodeling Industry

GuildQuality Member

Member of Builders Association of the Twin Cities

Member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association


  Members of our staff hold
  the following industry

• NARI Master Certified
• NARI Certified Remodeler
• NARI Certified Lead
• NARI Certified Kitchen and
  Bath Remodeler
• NKBA Certified Kitchen
• NAHB Certified Aging in
  Place Specialist (CAPS)

November 2014

Sky-High Energy Bills?
Check Your Attic!

Unless you've converted your attic into living space, there's no reason to pay good money to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Sounds obvious! But all too often, when we take a look at our clients' attics, we find that's exactly what has been happening. Without their knowing it, the furnace and air conditioner have been working overtime. That's hard on the equipment and it's costly in terms of energy bills and natural resources. The good news is that it's easy enough to fix!

The Two Biggest Attic Energy Robbers

One of the most common problems is poor insulation. There is often too little insulation for our climate, it's spread unevenly, or the particular type of insulation used offers far less efficiency than other choices.

Photo: money flying out of attic

A second energy robber is ductwork that is improperly sealed or has become broken, crushed or disconnected due to age or other work that has been done in your home. Also, poorly sealed ductwork can let particles of attic insulation and dust vent into your living space. You certainly don't want to be breathing that in!

Tally Up the Savings

It is not unusual for attic energy robbers to steal 20-30% of your heating and air conditioning output. If you knew that 20-30% of the water in your home's pipes was leaking, you'd call a plumber right away, knowing the cost of the repair would quickly be offset by savings on the water bill month after month after month. It's the same with energy leaks in your attic. Plugging those leaks could lower your energy bill by about a third every month. That could make a huge difference to your finances and to your carbon footprint.

“Right-Sizing” Home Heating & Cooling Systems: Why Bigger Isn't Always Better

If you're planning a remodeling project that will involve heating and cooling systems – or if it's time to replace old units, don't "over buy." The fact is that installing units that are bigger than necessary can actually cost you in higher energy bills and make your home less comfortable.

Carrier heat pumpsSeems counterintuitive, doesn't it? You'd think that a bigger unit would have to work less hard to heat or cool the house. Turns out just the opposite is true: when a unit is too large, it cycles on and off more frequently than a right-sized unit. This creates more wear and tear so the unit may wear out sooner than expected. All that cycling also creates higher energy bills compared to a right-sized unit that just comes on, runs steadily, and then cuts off. Plus, a home with an over-sized unit will feel less comfortable. With air conditioning, for example, the frequent on/off cycling creates short, cold bursts of air rather than a cool, steady temperature. Likewise, the humidity is less comfortable because the cycling means that less moisture is actually removed from the home.

Energy Star logoSo, what's the right size for your home?

If your remodeling project involves a new heating or cooling system, make sure you get one that is right-sized for your home. According to Energy Star, some contractors simply use square footage or "rules of thumb" to size units. We know it takes more thinking than that to do the accurate load calculations needed to come up with the right-sized unit.

We have the experience to understand how two remodeling projects in our area with identical square feet can have wildly different heating and cooling challenges. For example, an addition that faces south is likely to require more cooling power than an identical addition that faces north. So, when it comes to right-sizing the new heating and cooling system, here are the factors that we take into account for you:

  • The space itself: the direction it faces, square feet, ceiling height, etc.
  • The size, type and number of windows and the direction they face
  • Shading (e.g., trees, overhangs, etc.)
  • The overall energy efficiency of the home (e.g., how well windows, doors and ducts are sealed, how the home is insulated, etc.)

If you are thinking about remodeling, we'd be happy to share more ideas for making your space not only beautiful and functional, but comfortable and energy-efficient as well. Just give us a call.

Maintenance Tip: Turn Off Water to Outside Spigots

Shut off the water supply valve to your outside spigots, but leave the spigot itself open, so that if a little water leaks from the water supply valve, it will be able to drain instead of freezing in the pipe. Disconnect and drain your garden hoses and store them in a heated space for the winter to prevent them from freezing and cracking.

If You Like Our E-newsletter, Pass It On!

We would like to thank all our new readers who have signed up for our e-newsletter. If you know someone who you think might like our e-newsletter, please forward them a copy. Unless they then choose to subscribe for themselves, they won't be on our e-newsletter mailing list for future e-mails.(We promise!)

Trout stream in North Carolina

Typical "gin clear" trout stream

What's the Story?

It is hard to believe but winter is already upon us. Our note about heating and cooling systems seems appropriate. We are constantly working with clients to improve the energy efficiency on their homes and one technique that can really give you answers about how your house is functioning is to have some energy testing done to really see where the problems lie. A blower door test will measure the tightness of your home and how tight your windows and doors operate. A thermal scan will show temperature differentials of hot and cold spots and can pinpoint where you are losing heat. There are standard ranges for typical homes, so you can get a sense of where you stand in comparison to other homes about the same size. Late winter ice dams relate to both of the tests noted above and can provide some real objective answers about where you should focus and what you might do to tighten up your home and save energy.

Trappers Fisherman with brook trout
Trappers in full regalia  Solid brook trout specimen! 

I was able to spend a few days fishing in North Carolina earlier this month. We camped just outside Ashville, NC and spent 3 days chasing wild and hatchery trout in the mountains of North Carolina. It was organized by my friend Brad Cruickshank who lives in Atlanta and we were joined by a couple of other buddies, Dave Merrill from Arlington, VA and Don Strobel from Tampa, FL. A true rendezvous and thus the great headwear – a fall "Trappers Rendezvous"!

Average rainbow trout 

It was really beautiful country and the leaves were just turning at the lower elevations. We did catch a few fish, tell a few stories and warm ourselves by the campfire. All good...

Have a great November and stay warm.

Until next month,

John Sylvestre