The Home-Buyers Guide to AC Systems – Part 3 of 3

Homeowners your hands one of the most important documents you can possess before you purchase a home! What every homeowner or potential homeowner absolutely needs to know and understand is this, you as a homeowner have ALL the responsibility to make sure your new home is going to function and be an energy efficient home.

This document is written for the homeowner to understand the city inspections. This article is not referring to the third party inspection completed by a licensed Professional Home Inspector.

If you are concerned about the energy efficiency for your new home the single most important item that impacts energy usage and monthly energy bills is the size of the home. The energy cost to operate your home is directly related to the size, shape and volume of your home. Home builders today are not supplying potential home buyers with two critical pieces of information you need to understand the energy efficiency of a particular home or if you are comparing the homes from two different home builders.

When an engineer designs and sizes the AC equipment for a building large or small he uses a load calculation method to determine how much heating and air conditioning capacity is needed to serve the new building. The same approach and method is supposed to be used today in new homes built in Texas. The home builders in Texas have been building homes in Texas since 2001 that will not meet the required energy code standard and design guides. The load calculation step is the very beginning and most important step in building a home for energy efficiency but is not being performed by builders today. This is simply because most builders do not pay attention, understand the energy code or understand load calculations.

The other problem or issue is that most homeowners have never heard about it and do not care as well. Most homeowners believe that someone else is taking care of this for them. As I stated earlier in this guide this is simply not true or being done.

Homeowners Have To Take Responsibility

How do homeowners know that one home is more efficient than another? The method used to
understand the efficiency of a home in regards to the heating and air conditioning systems is based on a unit of energy known as a “British Thermal Unit” (BTU). I am not going to get real technical here but I will give you the homeowner the information you need to go home shopping with and it is really very simple.

Three Efficiencies Regarding Home Building

1. Thermal Efficiency- Determined by the home construction methods and materials
used to build the home. It is the most important efficiency in home building.

2. Energy Efficiency – Measured and calculated by the conversion of energy input
(KW/BTU) into useful work output cooling/heating BTUH.

3. Overall Efficiency – Is the combination of both efficiencies above. Thermal Efficiency
has a huge impact on the Energy Efficiency rating and therefore will impact the
overall efficiency of the home.

As a homeowner this is what you need to know. The amount of energy required to heat and cool your home is directly related to the amount of heat gain your home experiences when it is warm outside and how much heat loss your home experiences when it is cold outside. This heat gain and heat loss is measured in BTUS. The amount of heat gain and heat loss is measured and defined on an hourly basis so the measurement is in BTUH. This stands for British Thermal Units per Hour. The higher the thermal efficiency of the home the lower the energy use is. As a homeowner you will receive a better return on investment for each dollar you spend to make your new home more thermally efficient than to build a very poor thermally efficient home and try to make up the overall efficiency with very expensive high end heating and air conditioning equipment. This approach simply does not work over the life of the home.

As a homeowner you have another measurement or consideration to think about and that is the “Return on Investment” (ROI) for your money. If you to take short cuts on the home construction side and purchase very expensive high end AC equipment to make up you may cost your self a lot more money over the life of with expensive repair bills. The cost to repair the high end AC systems is very expensive.

Below is a simple but real example.
- 14 SEER AC System – Replace a failed indoor fan motor. Cost= $250.00
- 20 SEER AC System – Replace a failed indoor fan motor. Cost= $1200.00

The newer systems are very complicated with a lot of electronic components that are very susceptible to power problems and lightning strikes during storms. As a homeowner you need to consider this when building a new home with the least cost to maintain and operate. Homeowners need to spend their money making their home more thermally efficient and use AC system(s) rated at 14-15 SEER instead of 20 SEER systems.

The Questions a Homeowner Needs to Ask a Home Builder

- Mr. Home builder what is the heat gain for this home on July 15th at 3:00 PM in the afternoon?

After he regains his thoughts he will probably reply with; what do you mean? This will give you a real clue here. He does not know anything about the thermal efficiency for the homes he is building!

“You might want to consider a new home builder at this point!”

- Mr. Home builder what is the heat loss for this home on January 15th at 3:00 AM in the morning?

These are the questions that any potential home buyer should ask if they are concerned about energy efficiency and the monthly energy bill for their home. If you are a homeowner who operates on a monthly budget then energy efficiency is very important for your new home. Let us use the example below to demonstrate how the real energy efficiency of two homes should be compared.

- Home A- single story with 2500 square feet of air conditioned living area, all electric home, all energy star rated appliances, and all the lighting fixtures are compact fluorescent and the high efficiency type. The home has a 5 ton 14 SEER rated AC system.

- The heat gain for the home in July is 49,500 Btuh.
- The heat loss for the home in January is 72,000Btuh.

- Home B- single story with 2700 square feet of air conditioned living area, all electric home, all energy star rated appliances, and all the lighting fixtures are compact fluorescent and the high efficiency type. The home has a 4 ton 13 SEER rated AC system.

- The heat gain for the home in July is 44,000 Btuh.
- The heat loss for the home in January is 66,000 Btuh.

Which home is more efficient? Many homeowners would choose Home A simply because it has the largest AC system and highest SEER rating of the two homes. The most efficient home is Home B. This home is larger and is being served with the smallest AC system. Even with the lower SEER rating for the AC system the system is rated at 4 tons and is able to cool the home adequately. The difference in heat gain and heat loss values is what makes home B the most thermally energy efficient. The size of the AC system does not make a home more thermally efficient. The AC systems in homes are sized to meet the heat gain and heat loss values of the home. The lower the heat gain/loss number the higher the “Thermal Efficiency” is for the home. What makes the home more thermally efficient is size, construction, direction the home faces, window type, wall construction and insulation values to name a few. The thermal energy efficiency of the home is determined by the construction methods and materials not the heating and air conditioning equipment. The AC equipment only makes a difference in the conversion of electrical energy or the conversion of fuel into useful work- cooling output (Btuh) or heating output. When the SEER rating is higher the conversion of electrical energy is more efficient and therefore the energy bills are lower for the home. A home that only requires a 3 ton AC system to meet the cooling load will be less efficient if the same home has a 5 ton system installed no matter what the SEER value is.

Example:
- Home C- Has a 12 SEER 3 ton AC system that is properly sized and works properly
- Home C- with a 16 SEER 5 ton AC system will not function correctly and will make the home uncomfortable because the system will short cycle and this reduces the energy efficiency (SEER) of the AC system.

Homeowners do not fall for the bigger is better sales pitch! Bigger is not better regarding AC systems EVER!

Let’s talk about heating systems now. If you are building a new home, buying a new home or purchasing an existing home you need to consider how your new home is heated. The method of heating a home today is not quite as simple as it once was. My personnel first choice for heating a home is by using a natural gas or propane system. I like the warmth and feel of the gas systems. At one time it would have been considered the most economically method to heat a home. In today’s constantly changing energy markets the price of a MCF of natural gas is not always the least cost to operate. I will list the methods of heating a home in order based on cost, comfort and reliability below.

The Southern Part of the Country

1. Gas Heat- If the price of natural gas or propane is least expensive on a consistent basis

2. Heat Pump System- If the home is total electric a heat pump system is a must for energy
efficiency.

3. If the home is total electric the last choice would be electric resistive heating. This is a very
expensive choice for heating.

The Northern Part of the Country

1. Fuel Oil – If the price of fuel oil remains less than natural gas or propane on a consistent basis

2. Natural Gas – Would be the second choice over electric heating.

3. Heat Pump System- If the home is total electric a heat pump system is a must for energy
efficiency.

4. If the home is total electric the last choice would be electric resistive heating. A very
expensive choice for heating.
5. In areas where wood is available and the home has a good wood heating system.
Home AC System Design

Questions to Ask Your Builder

1. What is the heat gain for the home? July 15th 3:00 PM _____________ Btuh

2. What is the heat loss for the home? January 15th 3:00 AM ______________Btuh

3. How many units (systems) are in the home?

Recommendations
- Single Story Homes less than 2000 sq ft- Single System
- Two Story Home less that 2000 sq ft- Two Systems, One Up and One Down Stairs
- Single Story Homes > 2000 but 5000 sq ft- Need to consult with a mechanical engineer with experience with
energy efficiency designs and energy conservation. Ask for references. Suggest
someone not in relation to the AC contractor to get the best objective design and solution.
- Discuss the heat gain/losses with your AC contractor or mechanical engineer to find out
what you can do to lower these values by making changes in the design and materials for
your home.

4. 6. Ask for the AC contractor’s name and for references. Talk to homeowners who have been in their home more than two years or so. This will give you a better understanding of how well the contractor designed the AC systems and how they performed in both the cooling and heating seasons.

5. Ask the contractor to give you some estimates in writing to replace the indoor fan motor and the compressor for the AC systems you are considering. If you are trying to decide between a system rated at 15 SEER and one rated at 20 SEER this will help you understand what the overall cost is and what your ROI could be over the life of the system(s).

6. If you are looking at purchasing a home that will require major remodeling and the heating and air conditioning system to be replaced you need to make sure you understand the following about the AC contractor you hire.

- Is the contractor licensed?
- Is his licensed current?
- What level of general liability insurance does he have?
- Is his insurance policy current?
- How many technicians will be working in your home?
- Have these technicians been registered with the state? A state of Texas requirement
- Have you checked the contractor out with the Better Business Bureau?
- Ask for a copy of his license and insurance policy.
- Verify the insurance policy is current with the policy provider, this is very important.

Insurance Requirements for AC Contractors Texas (Verify Requirements for Your State)

Homeowners AC contractors in Texas are required to carry a general liability insurance policy in order to perform work in the state of Texas. In 2003 the state of Texas stopped requiring AC contractors to prove they have general liability insurance prior to renewing their license each year. This puts homeowners at risk all over Texas when using and hiring AC contractors. You as a homeowner have to take the initiative to verify the AC contractor you are working with has a current general liability insurance policy.

- Class A license holders are required to carry a $300,000.00 policy.

- Class B license holders are required to carry a $150,000.00 policy.

Homeowners you need to determine if the value of your home and personnel possessions have a value higher than the required limits for the AC contractor you hire. Check with your homeowner insurance provider how this impacts you as a homeowner in the event your home is damaged or destroyed because of poor workmanship or faulty equipment. You may want to ask your contractor to provide a higher level of liability insurance before starting work in your home.

Homeowners do not become a victim of an unlicensed and uninsured AC contractor!

Third Party Inspections and Resources

Many cities and homeowners are using third party inspectors today. As a homeowner you are ultimately the responsible party to make sure your home and your investment is protected. Just because someone is a third party inspector means they are any better than the local city code official. I would recommend that you take the time to talk with two or more inspectors to find out who you believe is the best one that can help to insure you receive the best value for your money and the best AC system for your home. I always recommend that homeowners talk to their neighbors, friends and family to find out if they can offer you some good advice or to help steer you away from someone who does not understand what they are doing. A few simple phone calls or few minutes talking to someone can save you thousands of dollars and headache.

Summary

Homeowners if you are considering purchasing a new home you have a lot on your mind. The AC system(s) for your new home are a very important piece of the equation to being satisfied and happy with your new home. We covered a lot of information in the “The Home Buyers Guide to AC Systems” and I believe you probably have learned some helpful tips and a whole lot about heating and air conditioning. Do not let this overwhelm you but simply take it in a step by step approach when deciding what type of heating and air conditioning system for your home. If you take the information you have learned and start to discuss it with home builders and AC contractors you will find out they are not going to be very open and willing to work with you. When home builders and AC contractors know they are doing business with a potential homeowner that knows something about AC systems they become a little uncomfortable. This will go to show you that home builders and AC contractors have had it their way for a long, long time. It is time for homeowners to receive the best AC systems for their new homes. You can do this and be very
successful at the same time.

Good Luck with Your New Home or Next AC Project!

101 Reasons To Use Home Staging

Are you still stuck on the fence about whether or not to hire a home stager? How about 101 great reasons why you should consider this very smart real estate investment? You may be surprised to learn some of these reasons really do make practical sense.

Statistically, home staging has been proven by a survey conducted by RESA to sell homes faster.
Statistically, property staging has resulted in a higher selling price because the home sold faster.
A home stager can provide an unbiased opinion of the home that the homeowner can not give since he can become partial and so familiar to his own home.
Property Staging gives a competitive edge over other homes on the market.
The cost of real estate staging is always less than the cost of your first price reduction.
Real estate staging creates an emotional response from the potential home buyers that can result in an offer made in the moment of emotional attachment to the home.
Home staging adds color to a home that can act like “eye candy” making the home more desirable.
Real estate staging is essential in a buyer’s market. There are too many homes on the market to choose from.
Property staging can increase the number of showings you have.
Realtors prefer and will choose to show listings that have been staged over listings that have not. Thus, home staging increases showings.
Real estate staging can take a “stale property” that has been on the market for too long and make it a “hot property” once more within the real estate community.
A listing that is staged will show better in online photos and web media than a listing that is not staged.
Real estate staging can increase the perceived value of a property.
Home staging highlights the home’s greatest architectural features.
Staging shows the homes greatest functionality.
It gives potential buyer’s a visual as to how much furniture can actually comfortably fit into a space.
Home staging adds curb appeal, which in turn can help draw prospective buyers in. If the curb appeal is not good, many times the buyers will not even get out of the car to tour the home.
Stagers will help sellers reduce clutter in the home and make it appear larger.
It will make a space feel more organized which can create a peaceful serene feeling for a potential buyer.
It gives the entry or foyer a “WOW” factor when buyers come through the door.
Because home staging recommends to the seller to put away keepsakes and valuables for staging purposes, they are kept safe from anyone touring the home.
It draws the eye away from the small flaws in a home and draw attention to the positive features of a home.
It is the art of decorating a home to appeal to all tastes and therefore will appeal to a broader range of potential buyers.
A quality stager continues to stay educated with the latest design trends and real estate marketing techniques and will implement these techniques when staging.
It can make a space appear larger.
It helps real estate agents do their job more effectively when the home is neat, organized and properly staged
Because there is less “stuff” in the home, staging helps the homeowner keep the home neat for showings.
It helps to clear the air in the home of any odors and helps keep the home smelling fresh.
Staging creates focal points that draw attention to special features in the home.
It will brighten a space as much as possible.
Home staging can integrate certain design elements to a particular room style which can help to sell the home. For ex: A rustic styled room can be staged as such, a country style, a contemporary style, etc.
It depersonalizes a home which will remove the current home owner’s personality and make the potential buyer feel more at home.
It gives a space a harmonized and unified feel that will appeal to more buyers.
A staged home will not be over-powering which can tend to “alienate” prospective buyers.
Home stagers utilize certain staging techniques in a staged home that implements a design plan cohesively through out the home.
Home stagers can identify a home’s style and determine a design plan reflective to that particular style without over powering the design.
It presents a home in a “model home” appeal much the same that the builders use in their model homes.
Home stagers have working relationships with sub contractors and handymen in which they are aware of the quality of their work prior to bringing them to your home.
Using a home stager prior to beginning a home flip can be very beneficial since a home stager is trained to look for the cosmetic details in a property that need the most attention.
A stager can be very helpful in prioritizing the need for certain cosmetic updates which is great when you are working on a limited budget.
A stager can save a home seller the unnecessary expense of buying furniture to stage a home and in some cases also rent furniture and accessories to the homeowner for less money and more flexible rental contracts.
It can make an older home feel more modernized.
Potential buyers will think your in a hurry to sell your home if you leave it vacant.
You only get one chance to make to make a great first impression.
It creates ambiance in a room and gives it a “homey” feeling.
It helps promote multiple offers. Often when there are competitive bids, a bidding war can take place provoking a selling price above the asking price.
It adds charm to an old home that creates a feeling of restored beauty.
It can bring the outdoors in with pops of small palm planters and floral arrangements.
Stagers pay very close attention to the small details of marketing a home that a homeowner may have not have noticed or has grown used to seeing and doesn’t realize any potential problem.
Stagers are very resourceful and can take certain elements of the home and re-purpose and reuse to help the home owner save money.
Home stagers are usually very creative by nature and can creatively arrange certain pieces of furnishings or artwork to create a fresh new look in a home.
Stagers shop for accessories frequently and can often use designer discounts to provide the home owner with lower cost accessories and other services.
A good home stager usually knows what updates and changes will yield the highest return on investment.
Stagers make great overseers for an open house when they have staged the home.
More than 80% of Real Estate Agents are now recommending home staging to their clients. If you are not staging your property, someone else in your neighborhood probably is!
Stagers will assist you in packing, and everyone one knows, nobody likes to pack.
Stagers will help you to stay organized when you pack which will help tremendously when unpacking in the new home.
It eliminates the need for a buyer to have a big imagination.
It makes a cold and sterile empty house become vibrant with color and life through proper accessorizing.
When a buyer walks into a staged property they are looking at how a home is livable instead of trying pick apart the flaws or other small details.
Home staging with a bed in a master bedroom will make a the room more desirable much the same as a bed fluffed and on display in a department store.
Staging a master bath will give the space a “spa-like” feel to it and make it very warm and inviting. It should have the same appeal as an 5 Star hotel has with fresh, towels, soaps, etc.
Because closets are very important to many buyers, clearing the space to stage it and make it appear larger is extremely important and can make or break a deal.
It’s most important to stage a master bedroom (and bathroom) since the person who will buy the home is most likely going to live in that room.
A quality stager will research the demographics in the sellers market and stage a secondary room to appeal to that particular market. For example: young professionals, families with children, etc.
In real life, it is difficult to keep that “new home” look. Staging will help restore and revive your home to it’s “new home ” originality.
It helps to captivate and romance a buyer to make an offer.
It communicates to a potential buyer that the home has been well maintained and cared for.
Staging tells a home’s “story” and gives it character.
It updates the lighting fixtures in an outdated home. Many people live in very dimly lit homes and they are not even aware of how dark it is.
It gives a seller the opportunity to clear out and cash in. Taking a fresh look at what you want to move to the new home and what you don’t need will be the beginnings of a profitable yard sale.
Even the most elegant and high end luxury homes can have too much personality in the home. If a house looks over decorated, buyers will resist the property feeling too uncomfortable in the home.
Stagers are the creative minds realtors depend on to help market their clients home for most money possible.
Often, property staging can increase the selling price of a home.
A real estate stager will recommend neutral wall colors that will appeal to a broader range of buyers.
Stagers can provide quick-fix lost cost solutions to many wear and tear problems through out the home.
House staging coordinates design style with functionality.
Home staging arranges furnishings so they “talk to each other” making the space have a cohesive feel much the same as a model home.
Staging a room can help to define an area that may not necessarily define itself.
Property staging will encourage sellers to stage a room only for it’s intended purpose which will help potential buyers see their furnishings in the space as well.
A staged home will always show better when compared to an un-staged home and will present the home in it’s best possible light
A staged house appears “move-in’ ready.
A staged property will look better on printed listing flyers.
According to a study conducted by RESA in 2009, a staged home will spend 78% less time on the market that an un-staged vacant home.
According to the same study by RESA, a staged property sold on average in 40.5 days.
A staged property that sells quickly will benefit the buyer, the seller, the realtor as well as the stager involved in the sell. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
According to a study conducted by HomeGain home staging will have at least a 286% – 1067% ROI depending on your regional location.
Staging will help to ease the process of your home sale experience since potential problems can be identified and solved before they are spotted by potential buyer.
Working with a home stager can make the home sale process less stressful.
Staging is not decorating-decorating is optional. Staging is more of a necessity if you want to sell your home for the most money possible in the shortest amount of time.
Once you put your home on the market, it is important to remember that your home is no longer your home, but a product you are selling. Staging will help “package” your product more effectively.
Staging a home can eliminate profiling or stereotyping in the mind of a potential buyer.
Buyers want to fall in love with a home. This is much less likely to happen in a cold and sterile, white-walled vacant home.
A stager will help a seller determine what personalized decor in the home should be packed and stored away for the move.
A home stager will help to ensure that a potential buyer does not feel as if he/she is intruding on someone’s private space.
When a property is not staged with furniture it will make every crack in the wall, scuff on the floor, and any other cosmetic defect much more noticeable and turn buyers off.
Real estate staging is quickly becoming an essential piece of the real estate puzzle.
Staging is not just another out of pocket expense. It is a smart real estate investment that yields a high return on investment.
Staging maximizes a home’s selling potential and power.
Home staging can be very affordable. Some companies such as can offer various staging packages for most any budget.
Home staging maintains a professional client-realtor relationship and helps save on marketing costs for realtors.
Staging really works!

Rhonda Conchola, Design Consultant

Management Tips – What it Takes to Create an Effective Business Development Strategy

If you are a manager at the same time an owner of a business or an organization then, one of the challenges you are faced with is the challenge of developing and taking advantage of business opportunities that are provided to you and your company. Moreover, as a manager you always have to strive for growth and development. To achieve that aim, you have to have an effective business development strategy? Now, how are you going to do that? What does it requires creating an effective business development strategy? Read on and learn from the following tips.1. Brace yourself up with sufficient knowledge as well as excellent management practices and strategies. As a manager who aims for growth of his or her business or organization, you have to have sufficient knowledge and excellent management practices and strategies. Well, these will all boils down to whether you will be revolutionary or evolutionary in coming up with ideas and strategies for development. The idea or strategy you will come up with will be the basis for your company to either revolutionize or evolve.2. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach. An effective business development strategy entails a multi-disciplinary approach which includes financial, advertising and legal skills from you as the development manager. This means that you need to come up with creative ways that are flexible to be applied with just about any circumstances that may hit your business. of course, these ways should contribute to the prosperity of your business and not its failure.3. Create a strategic marketing plan. There are various aspects in your business wherein business development strategies can help your business to grow and prosper. Strategic marketing plan, as such, will deal with the changing customer base and market dynamics. It will also aid in understanding horizontal and vertical target market opportunities and help you learn how to pick out and develop products, services or solutions to address the needs of your target market.4. Decide on what kind of approach in planning. Take note that a plan shouldn’t be on its own to work nor will you solely manage it to work. A plan can take the form of either a ‘bottom up’ approach or a ‘top down’ approach. A plan in a bottom up approach involves employees to come up with ideas and suggestions. After which, the best one are passed on to the management. On the other hand, a plan in a top down approach involves higher position personnel such as the managers to establish the business development strategies and then, imposed them down to their subordinates. Additionally, there is the use of collaborative process where managers and employees work together as one in performing this task.5. Evaluation. Now, after the business development strategy has been decided on, it will be your task as a manager to make sure that this strategy will work out. To do so, you will need to conduct evaluation of its weak points, strengths, the risk involve and its growth potentials. You may want to hire a strategy consultant for this matter as there are indeed, various factors that must be taken into serious consideration. However, it will be dependent on the complexities that come with its implementation. Some of these factors involve assigning of responsibilities, hiring sufficient human resources and establishing a chain of command. It will also involve a specific timeline to determine whether or not the preferred goals are being accomplished or not.Evidently, there is no single type of business development strategy that will be enough for any business. So as a manager, you have to brace yourself up with more and more knowledge to know what works for you and your business and determine the corresponding advantages of sticking to it.