I work from home as an independent contractor. My job is entirely handled online. I appreciate the ability to avoid traffic, hassles with parking and keeping to set hours. I like the freedom to accommodate other aspects of my life. I don’t need to buy a special wardrobe and get dressed up for work. I can play my favorite music, drink coffee and sit in my bed, on the couch or in my office with my laptop. However, I get contracted by the project. This means that my workload fluctuates. There are times when I have very little to do, and I worry about paying my bills. Most often, however, I am overwhelmed with my task list. I often put in twelve hours a day. I get very stressed, find it difficult to sleep, and end up working at 3 AM. It’s been very helpful that my heating and cooling system includes zone control. During the day, I’m usually the only one at home. I occupy a single room. Because of the zone control, I can target heating or cooling to that specific area. I’m not forced to maintain ideal temperature in a bunch of unused rooms. Pluss, I’ve found that I’m far more productive when I’m comfortable. I tend to always feel overheated. I prefer to turn the thermostat down to around 68 or 69 degrees. Without zone control, I’d freeze my family. It’s especially advantageous when I’m up in the middle of the night. I simply access an app on my smartphone and adjust the temperature for wherever I decide to post up and work. I don’t need to manually set the thermostat, and I don’t disturb anyone else.
My family has owned and operated a boutique hotel along the coast for nearly sixty years.
We have a prime location with access to the beach.
Because our area is a major tourist destination, we are always solidly booked for months in advance. Although we don’t have the excessive luxuries of the bigger resorts on either side of our little hotel, we offer a more personalized experience. Our clients tend to be loyal and come back to us year after year. We benefit from extremely high customer ratings and reviews. My entire family contributes to the operation, working to make sure the property is perfectly maintained, welcoming and comfortable for our guests. Along with meticulous cleaning, quality linens and conscientious customer service, temperature control is a big priority. Air conditioning is necessary just about all year round. After spending a day on the beach, our guests look forward to the cool comfort of their room. Although the temperature rarely drops, there are those nights over the winter when heating is necessary. A few years ago, we completely updated the heating and cooling system. We chose a VRF or variable refrigerant flow system because of the exceptional energy efficiency and more precision control over temperature. This type of system consists of a single outdoor component linked to an indoor unit within each room. The indoor units feature independent thermostats to allow for zoned control. The modular design allows us to expand or make replacements without disruption or major expense. The ability of the system to precisely regulate the amount of refrigerant supplied to each indoor unit maintains very even temperature and minimizes energy use.
A couple of years ago, I moved much further south. I was anxious to get away from the sub zero temperatures and snow accumulation. I’d had enough of bundling up in my wool coat, lacing up heavy boots and spending endless amounts of time shoveling and scraping. I hated being trapped inside the house for more than half the year, reliant on the furnace. My heating bills were enormous. With the furnace blasting at maximum capacity for nearly eight straight months, the indoor environment would become overly dry. The insufficient humidity led to issues with chapped lips, frizzy hair, headaches and difficulty sleeping. Because dry air feels cooler than properly moisturized air, it’s always tempting to turn up the thermostat. This makes the problem worse and increases the cost of monthly utility bills. After putting up with long, severe winters for forty years, I was ready for a change. I looked forward to sunshine and warm weather. I wasn’t prepared for the challenge of high humidity. It wasn’t long before I realized that moving south simple created the opposite problems. I was now trapped in the house because of brutal heat. Despite the air conditioner running at maximum capacity, there was condensation running down the windows and the air felt sticky. Overly high humidity levels create the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, bacteria and dust mites. It causes fatigue and health concerns and encourages lower thermostat settings. I finally called a local HVAC contractor and looked into the different styles of whole-house dehumidifiers. I wanted to be comfortable in my new home, be proactive about air quality and avoid needless expense.
I take precautions to minimize my carbon footprint.
I take the time to recycle plastics, glass, paper, cardboard and metal cans.
I use reusable bags at the grocery store, turn out the lights when I leave the room and compost my kitchen waste. Although heating and cooling systems have become more energy efficient, they still have a big impact on the environment. Most heating equipment burns fossil fuels to generate heat, creating greenhouse gases. While air conditioners have switched from Freon to Puron refrigerant, there’s still ozone depleting properties. It takes energy to operate the furnace, boiler, heat pump or air conditioner. I felt it was worth it to spend extra for a geothermal heat pump. This type of system makes use of the free and renewable energy source found right in my own backyard. The earth absorbs solar energy and the underground temperature remains constant just about year round. The geothermal heat pump includes an underground loop system that takes advantage of free heat energy. Rather than create new heat, the heat pump moves existing heat between the house and the ground. In the winter, it pulls heat out of the ground and pumps it into the home. During the warmer weather, the heat pump pulls heat out of the indoor air to create a cooling effect. This process actually creates four times the energy it consumes, making the system 400% energy efficient. Geothermal temperature control is also completely safe, wonderfully quiet and especially clean. With the addition of a simple valve, the heat pump also generates a virtually free source of domestic hot water. Although the geothermal heat pump was way more expensive than a conventional heating and cooling system, the savings on my energy bills has recovered the investment in under five years.
I’m aware that the furnace and air conditioner require regular upkeep to continue to operate properly.
If neglected, the equipment gradually succumbs to wear and tear.
It no longer provides the maximum amount of conditioned air, which leads to spotty and insufficient comfort during severe weather. The contaminants within the system can get introduced into the breathing air of the home and cause all sorts of health issues. Headaches, nausea, sore throat, itchy eyes, respiratory infection and aggravated symptoms of asthma and allergies are a few of the consequences of dirty HVAC equipment. When the airways of the system are restricted by debris, the furnace and air conditioner are forced to run longer and work harder. They use more energy and cost more to operate. Plus, the added wear and tear increases the probability of malfunction and shortens service life. Professional maintenance also satisfies the requirements of the manufacturer’s warranty. Without proof of regular annual service, the cost of repairs won’t be covered. Even minor problems with the furnace or air conditioner can be expensive to fix. I’d rather not waste my money on needless repairs or be forced to invest in a replacement system every few years. The smart choice is a maintenance plan. I’ve signed up with a local HVAC company. For a small fee, they send a licensed technician to the house to inspect, clean and adjust the heating and cooling equipment twice per year. The process is quick, definitely cost-effective and gives me peace of mind. I know my essential equipment is ready to handle the upcoming workload. The maintenance agreement also includes free emergency service and priority scheduling.
When I started up the furnace in the fall, it wasn’t acting just right.
Because the weather turned cold without any warning and much earlier than usual, I hadn’t gotten around to scheduling seasonal maintenance. I knew there was probably some dust, lint and other debris gathered inside the components. While I had good intentions to contact a local HVAC company and set up an appointment, I simply got busy and forgot. There was a lot to do to prepare for winter and not much time to accomplish it. Along with plummeting temperatures, the weather forecast was calling for lots of snow and potential blizzard conditions. I had yet to winterize the pool and put the barbecue grill and patio furniture into storage. I needed to buy rock salt for the front steps, hire somebody to plow the driveway and find the snow shovels. It takes a while to make sure all of the winter gear, such as heavy boots, coats, gloves and hats are accessible. There’s also the process of tightening up the house for winter. I make a point to make sure the windows are closed tight, inspect the caulk around them and check the condition of the insulation in the attic. I sometimes roll up towels and place them on windows sills and along the bottom of exterior doors to prevent drafts. Since the furnace was operational and supplying heat, I never gave it a thought. Unfortunately, the heater quit in the middle of that early blizzard. The outside temperature had plummeted to negative twenty degrees with steady snowfall. We needed emergency heating repair.
My mom has worked from home for as long as I can remember.
Her office was always on the first floor and my sister and I knew not to play inside her space, especially if she was working.
When my parents downsized their home and moved into a new neighborhood, there was no designated office for my mom to work in. My mom didn’t want to convert one of the guest bedrooms into her office, because she needed the guest bedrooms for my sister and I when we came to visit. We assured her that we didn’t mind sharing a space with her while we visited, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Instead, my mom and dad built a small shed in the backyard that would act as her new office space. It was private and all her own. The shed wasn’t connected to the house, so it couldn’t be connected to the central HVAC system. Because of this, my parents had to hire an HVAC technician to come up with ways to heat and cool the space. The HVAC technician recommended that they install a ductless mini split system. It could attach to the wall and be controlled by a small remote. The ductless mini split system could switch between heat and air and it was the cheapest and most efficient option. According to him, a lot of homeowners were installing ductless mini split systems into basements, sunrooms, and garages! The ductless mini split system was installed a few days later and it was the best option for my mom’s new office in the shed!
The house was located in the south, so the air conditioning would be run the hardest
I spent a lot of time touring different homes and trying to have one of my countless offers accepted during my search for a home. At one of the many open houses I attended, I fell in love with the open floor plan, the beautiful fireplace, and the vaulted ceilings. The house felt like home and I was excited to put in an offer. I went from room to room, dreaming about all the changes I’d make and where I’d place my furniture. My realtor was with me, and she was checking out all the little details that I was glazing over. She pointed out a few creaky floorboards, a broken kitchen door, and the age of the HVAC system. According to the manufacturer date on the HVAC equipment, the entire HVAC system was 20 years old! When she told me this, I felt my heart sink. I adored this house, but the responsible side of me knew that HVAC systems were expensive. I had enough money to cover the loan and some cash saved to cover the difference between the appraisal and the loan amount, but I didn’t have enough money to purchase a new HVAC system. The house was located in the south, so the air conditioning would be run the hardest. My realtor could sense my disappointment, so she suggested I put an offer in anyway and then ask for the seller to cover the closing costs once the inspection came back and revealed the age of the HVAC system.
After moving to a new area, I spent a lot of time behind the computer applying for various jobs.
I had enough money to survive without an immediate hire, but I didn’t want to waste time and push my luck. I applied for hundreds of jobs before I finally received a phone call for an interview. When I walked into the main lobby, I noticed how icy cold it felt inside. I immediately grabbed my bare arms and scolded myself for not bringing a jacket. I sat in the cold lobby for what felt like forever. I couldn’t wait to be called back for my interview, and I was dreaming about entering a warmer room. Unfortunately, the room where my interview was being held was even colder! There were no windows to let in natural sunlight and warmth, so I sat uncomfortably in my seat in the freezing cold temperatures. Before the interview, I made a comment about how cold it was, and the interviewer explained that the air conditioner was stuck at 60 degrees and it wouldn’t budge. They were trying to get an HVAC company to come service the air conditioner, but everyone was busy! I told her that my brother was an HVAC technician and I could call him to come check it out as a personal favor. She quickly put me in touch with a manager and we set up a time for my brother to come service the AC. From then on, the interview was happy and upbeat. Needless to say, I got the job and their AC was fixed before my first day.
As I was trying to find the perfect home to buy, I saw a lot of great homes and a lot of bad homes.
With the market being as competitive as it is, the budget I’d carefully saved and planned for, quickly became next to nothing. I found myself increasing my budget and scaping to find extra cash in order to make my offer stand out among the other offers. When my realtor told me about a home that had re-entered the market, he assured me that I stood a good chance at winning this home. I asked him if he knew why the home was back on the market, but he couldn’t give me an exact reason. I put an offer in anyway and gave myself a one week due diligence. My offer was accepted and I scheduled a home inspection right away. When the report came back, I went straight to the heat and air section. It said that the heating equipment was estimated to be 23 years old. That seemed really old for heating equipment, but the report stated that the typical lifespan was between 18 and 25 years. Next, the report said that the air conditioning equipment was 14 years old. The typical lifespan of an air conditioning unit was between 10 to 15 years. Even though the air conditioning was within a normal lifespan range, I knew it wouldn’t last much longer because the house was in the south. I’d be running that air conditioning unit all day. Thankfully, I was able to convince the seller to cover the closing costs so I’d have money to replace the entire HVAC system.