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Newsletter #222

House Building Tips Resi Const

New House Building: Money Saving, Convenience and Healthy House Tips

James Todd
February 2004

Beginning with this edition, newsletters will now be archived
online at:



1. Gas Water Heaters: Should you purchase or rent
2. Water Heaters : Money Saving Tips
3. Fresh Air Intake
4. Wired vs. Wireless LANS
5. Useful Links
6. Thought for the Day
7. Subscription Information

Please forward this newsletter to anyone whom you think may be interested!

1. Gas Water Heaters: Should you purchase or rent?
Many new homes come equipped with a rental water heater. Water heaters can be Electric of Gas and the homeowner can usually purchase the water heater or rent it from a local supplier.

Rates and prices vary, so you will want to do your own calculations. Prices for rental gas water heaters are typically in the range of $10 to $14 per month plus applicable taxes. New water heaters can cost any where from $500 to $800, depending on the supplier, the number of gallons and the installation complexity. You may need to also bring your installation up to current code requirements if you are replacing an older model.

Obtain several quotes from your local suppliers and then do the math to determine what is best for your situation. You may prefer the monthly rental approach to avoid spending up words of $800, while others may want to eliminate the monthly rental fee.

Using the lowest cost per month and the highest cost for water heaters mentioned in this article suggests that it will take you 80 months or six and a half years to break even. Water heaters can last many years, so your savings on this purchase can turn out to be significant.

Looking at it another way, if you borrowed the money to purchase the water heater at an interest rate of 10%, the annual cost would be $80.00 giving you a $40.00 savings annually.

2. Water Heaters: Money Saving Tips
Heating water for bathing, dishwashing and doing laundry accounts for as much as 25% of your natural gas bill. Make sure you have an energy-efficient water heater, and only purchase energy-efficient appliances.

Here are some tips on how to use hot water more efficiently without affecting your comfort, cleanliness or safety:

1. Save on your water heating bill by insulating at least the first two metres (six feet) of the hot water pipe and the first metre (3 feet) of the cold water pipe that extends from your hot water tank. You can also wrap an insulating blanket around your water heater. Many hardware stores have pipe wrap insulation for this purpose. Do not use pipe wrap or any other insulation within 15 centimetres/6 inches of the draft hood or flue exhaust vent at the top of the natural gas water heater.
2. Once a year, drain a gallon of water from the faucet at the bottom of the heater to remove sediment that reduces its energy-efficiency.
3. Maintain a hot water temperature of 54°C/130°F to save energy and help reduce the risk of scalds.

Want other useful money savings tips for building your new home? Purchase the House Building Guide today. It comes with a 100% money back guarantee.

3. Fresh Air Intake
Since the early 70's, with the energy crisis and ongoing annual increases in the cost of energy, new home construction has been improving all aspects of energy conservation. One area focused on tightening up the insulation and sealing the house against heat loss through the walls, ceiling, windows and doors. Modern homes are wrapped in polyethylene vapour barrier, weather stripped triple glazed windows and sealed doors.

This design has created another problem for builders in terms of air quality. Incomplete burning of heating fuels, cooking fumes, chemicals emerging from various products such as carpets, paints various other manmade products and mould from moist stale air contributes to increasing levels of poor air quality. This has come to be known as the Sick Building Syndrome. The lack of fresh air and other contaminants in the home affects the health of those people living in the home by draining their energy and in extreme cases asphyxiation by carbon monoxide build-up.

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Air exhaust occurs naturally in most homes with various vents to the outside depending on whether they use electric, oil, gas, wood heating systems, are air conditioned, or use passive solar heating systems. Air will be exhausted from your chimney, the hood over your stove, the clothes dryer, and exhaust fans from various bathrooms creating a vacuum in your home. If fresh air cannot enter through other means, serious back drafts can occur through fireplaces and furnace chimneys introducing carbon monoxide into the home. Excessively yellow flame in your furnace or fireplace may indicate that insufficient air is entering your home.

With these issues in mind, builders have realized that house designs must now include fresh air intakes to replace the air exhausted by the above mentioned items and to ensure all fuel burning is complete. Adequate fresh air introduced to the interior of your home will ensure your home has fresh clean smell, a healthy environment and avoid back drafts.

Energy consumption is always a concern, especially when fresh air intake systems are used. Consider that the cold air coming in around a window near your thermostat will cause the furnace to run more often. Fresh air introduced in the furnace room and circulated by the furnace fan will only flow when the furnace and other appliances require fresh air. The temperature in the room with the thermostat is likely to be less susceptible to fluctuating room temperatures and may actually reduce fuel consumption.

In very cold climates or humid conditions, fresh air intake pipes should be insulated for the first 10 feet to prevent condensation on the pipe.

Finally, consider that fresh air intake pipes should not be blocked or plugged. The following symptoms in your new home should cause you to investigate yellow furnace flame; cold drafts, cycling of the furnace, lingering smells and odours, mould build-up, fatigue symptoms that clear up when you leave the home.

The following are useful links relating to the housing industry and the topics covered in this newsletter and may be of interest.

4. Internet - Wired or Wireless?
There are 2 main issues which impact the planning of internet connectivity in your new home: what type of internet service you will subscribe to and how you will distribute this internet service within your home.

The internet service that you subscribe to may permit internet access via dial-up modem, telephone company provided high speed, satellite/cable TV, or remote-feed wireless. You should adapt this information to suit your particular situation.

Two elements of a modern in-home internet installation are a high speed modem and a router. The internet supplier rents or sells you the modem or in some cases provides the modem at no charge. The modem has a single connection for your use. A router can be purchased at computer stores or electronic retailers for less than $50. The router is actually a combination router and hub/switch and may have 4 or more user ports, and one port to connect to the modem. The purpose of the router is to securely distribute the internet signal to multiple Ethernet connections. For best results install the high speed modem and router at the service entrance where the internet connection enters your home. The modem and the router come with their own power cubes and will require at least one wall outlet. Their power consumption is very small. You may want to consider using a small uninterruptible power source (UPS) at the service entrance. The cost is less than $50 and the UPS protects against power fluctuations, failure, or lightning strikes. If you decide to install a UPS, then your modem and router will plug into the UPS for power. If 4 ports are not enough for your installation, you will need to add a hub/switch. It will connect to one of the router ports and add from 4 to 255 ports.

Internet signals which are distributed using in-house wire follow a signalling standard called Ethernet. Ethernet wiring is often referred to as CAT-5 cable. This cable has specific electrical characteristics and has been safety tested for flammability and toxicity.

When planning a new home, it is common practice to arrange to prewire the house for internet. This can easily add over $1000 to the cost of the home and in many cases the Ethernet jacks are not in convenient locations. Wiring also impacts room layout.

Equipping your home with "wireless" internet may be significantly more convenient and less expensive than hard wiring the entire home.

Even in a wireless installation, there must be at least two Ethernet jacks wired back to the router using CAT-5 cable. One jack will provide a wired connection from the main desktop computer to the router. This computer is used for setting up and administering your network. The other jack is for the Access Point which is the base station for wireless internet. Each desktop or laptop computer beyond the main computer will require a wireless client card. Each wireless device communicates with your in-house Local Area Network or LAN via the Access Point. For best results, locate the Access Point centrally between all the wireless users. The Access Point comes with its own power cube and requires a wall outlet.

Tips to consider:

Insist that the wiring crew clearly labels each end of every CAT-5 cable.

In some installations, the Access Point may be installed at the service entrance with the router but this is often in a corner of the basement and may not provide good wireless performance.

A Wireless Access Point has a limited range of 100 feet or less. If you have a two or three story home, locate the Access Point near the main area of use. The signals from the Access Point do not easily penetrate furnace ducts, metal screens, siding, or any other large concentrations of metal. Keep this in mind when planning the location of your Access Point. It is possible to have 2 Access Points but for most installations this is not necessary. Each Access Point must be wired back to the router.

Consider using a UPS power unit at the main computer. This will protect your valuable equipment from power fluctuations and lightning.

5. Useful Links
The following are useful links relating to the housing industry and the topics covered in this newsletter and may be of interest.

How to set up a LAN

Simple Guide to Building a Home LAN

Enbridge: How to save Energy Every Day

Information on Hearth Fuels and Hearth Products

Advanced Buildings Technologies and Practices

Central City Air

6. Thought for the Day - Human Creativity
Creativity is not dulled by age, only by disuse. O. Aldrich Wakeford

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