Archive for December, 2009

December: Making the Holidays Homey

Posted on 01 December 2009 | Category: Tips

OrnamentsWith the holiday season in full swing — and with winter set to make its official debut on December 22 — this is the time of year many homeowners start exploring ways to make their homes snug, cheery and inviting for the season.

With that in mind, this month’s home to-do list contains both holiday and cold-related items that can make the holidays brighter and safer, and make your home cozy and welcoming for both your family and your guests.

December To-Dos:

Use caution in hanging holiday lights and decorations
Holiday lightsEveryone loves a bright, festive holiday display. But bringing it to life and powering it require caution. Even if you’re in a hurry, proper ladder use is a must (ladder-related accidents send over 200,000 people to emergency rooms annually). And take care not to overload electrical outlets, which can trip circuits and, in extreme cases, cause fires. Every year, clients ask Get Dwell to assist them in hanging holiday decorations. If you need help, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Have your chimney inspected
The advent of “fireplace season” make this the perfect time to have your chimney looked at by a qualified professional. Get Dwell recommends individuals or businesses certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America. If you need a recommendation, give us a call.

Inspect and clean gutters
As average daily temperatures plummet downward, early December is your last chance to ensure your gutters are clean and in good repair. Clogged or leaky gutters can cause considerable damage as a result of winter snows.

Check your furnace
Change filters, adjust your humidifier and check dampers and registers to be sure your heatingHoliday wonder system is working at peak efficiency when you need it most. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a yearly professional inspection of furnaces and all other fuel-burning appliances.

Insulate attics and crawl spaces
If you’ve been thinking of making energy-saving improvements to your home, why wait? Insulating and weatherizing your home now can ensure you’re running at peak efficiency when frigid temperatures arrive, and you might qualify for a $1,500 2009-2010 tax break through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Get Dwell can tell you what products and upgrades apply.

Have a question? Need help getting your home ready for the holidays? Call Get Dwell. We’re here anytime you need us. Our best wishes for a safe and happy season.

Turning a House into a Home

Posted on 01 December 2009 | Category: Featured Projects

New fireplaceWhen Debi Chess Mabie and her husband, Clint, moved into their new Evanston home, they, like so many other new homeowners do, started making a wish list of improvements they hoped to see happen. Some items on the list were small, but some required a bit more thought and planning. So once Debi settled into her new surroundings, she talked to Get Dwell to help her transform her house into the home she envisioned.

Making a Family Heirloom Into a Functional Focal Point

Media cabinet beforeClint moved into the Evanston house with a credenza that had been passed down through his family. Although the piece carried considerable sentimental value, its low, wide profile made it an impractical fit for the space it occupied. So Debi hired Get Dwell to collaborate on a solution that would turn a family heirloom into a functional and aesthetically pleasing focal point for the room.

Media cabinet detailAfter several consultations with Get Dwell, it was decided to build an upper, hutch-like addition to the piece, one that, in Debi’s words, was both “beautiful and structurally sound.” Get Dwell drew up a design, then worked with Debi to seek out a wood and a stain that would make the new addition fit the existing piece perfectly.

Media cabinet afterThe result, Debi says, is a “fantastic job. You can’t tell it’s not original to the piece. My husband loves it, and I got a piece that works in the room. Neither of us wanted to get rid of that credenza, and Get Dwell came up with a solution that matches the original piece, fits the room and is actually useful.”

Softening a Stone Fireplace

One item high on Debi’s wish list was dealing with a decorative stone fireplace enclosure that she felt was too heavy and bulky for the vision she had for the house. Clint, however, liked the “lodge” feel of the stone and didn’t want to see it dismantled. Both decided the stone would stay until another solution could be devised.

Fireplace beforeThe need to find that solution was accelerated by a Christmas eve fire that caused considerable smoke damage to the stone and other areas around the fireplace. In meetings with Get Dwell, it was decided to strategically remove some of the stone façade, but not all of it, taking away the bulk that she disliked but retaining the rustic look her husband appreciated.

“They got rid of the heft,” Debi says of Get Dwell’s solution. “Now we have fireplace that’s really quite lovely and unique.”

Debi says her relationship with Get Dwell has helped her not only make her house into a home she can be proud of, but it has saved her money, too.

“They find little problems around the house before you know they exist, but can also help bring a large project in line with your budget. I appreciate the way they look at the big picture, like a consultant. I count on them for a lot around here, and I’ve gotten really great results.”

Get Your Home Greener and More Comfortable With an Energy Audit

Posted on 01 December 2009 | Category: General

These days, it seems like everyone is searching for ways to make their homes more energy efficient, whether it’s because they want to lower their monthly utility bills, make certain areas of their homes more comfortable, or reduce their environmental impact. The question is, where to begin? Old windows and inadequate insulation seem like the obvious choices, but very few homeowners really know how their homes use (and lose) energy.

Green Dream GroupThat’s why Get Dwell works with an innovative company called Green Dream Group, an independent, scientific building performance verification firm, specializing in home energy audits and other services. The company’s advanced audits help homeowners lower utility bills, increase the comfort, durability, air quality, and energy efficiency of the living space, while at the same time do good for the environment.

Green Dream’s home energy auditors perform top-flight diagnostics, pinpoint cost-effective areas of improvement, then Get Dwell uses that information to make real, measurable improvements in the efficiency and comfort of your home.

High-Tech, Independent Diagnostics

DiagramGreen Dream Group’s Home Energy Audits utilize high-tech tools and techniques to scientifically pinpoint the areas of weakness in your home’s energy systems. They offer a few different levels of Home Energy Auditing, depending on your budget and the depth of information you’d like about your home.

Comprehensive Home Energy Audits include:

Blower Door Testing
The blower door is a precise fan system with which Green Dream can test the leakiness of your home. Essentially, they suck the air out of the house and see where outside air is rushing in to replace it.

Infrared Thermography
DiagramThe Infrared Camera is among the most valuable tools for diagnosing energy efficiency during an energy audit. By scanning the interior of the living space in infrared (like an X-ray for your home), Green Dream can pinpoint areas of weakness in your building’s envelope, insulation, duct system, windows and doors. These images suggest the most cost-effective points for home improvements

Combustion Analysis and Safety Testing
Every Home Energy Audit from Green Dream includes Worst-Case Depressurization Testing, which ensures your family’s safety from hazards including carbon monoxide and fire. Hidden leaks in your home’s natural gas supply pipes are quickly detected and tagged for easy correction. Green Dream’s nationally accredited home energy raters also can perform analysis of the CO and CO2 emissions, steady state temperature and efficiency, and gas spillage potential on each furnace, water heater and boiler in your home.

Computer Modeling
Green Dream uses nationally recognized software to create a basic simulation of your home, and then simulate improvements to it. This gives you an idea of cost, effect, and simple payback on the recommendations they make.

Utility Bill Analysis
By applying math to your past 12-24 months in gas bills, it’s possible to separate your usage into Heating and Base Load (Cooking, Clothes Drying, and Hot Water). Based on average household use in the Chicago area, it’s possible to determine whether your combustion appliances are performing at a level that’s comfortable and cost effective, or if you’d be better off with repaired (or even new) equipment.

For Get Dwell, Green Dreams Home Energy Audits are invaluable in ensuring we’re deploying your home-improvement dollars wisely and getting you the best bang for your buck. If you’d like to know more about these audits, give Get Dwell a call today.