Contact Us

Please feel free to get in touch to ask a question, schedule an appointment or give us your feedback. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Name
Name

17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States

8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

HomeImprovement-PT-050114_9032 (1).jpg

Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Tag: efficiency

Upgrade the Lighting In Your Home with LED

Chelsea O'Donnell

Spending more time indoors always gets me thinking about what small projects I can tackle to make a big impact on my home. One of those is lighting - which is especially important during these colder, darker months of the year.

Lighting can make or break the functionality of a room. If it’s too dim, you’ll be stuck squinting and turning on extra power sources that you probably don’t need. If it’s too bright, you’ll feel like you’re in a grocery store or a shopping mall.

LED lighting has given homeowners some exciting new options, but it can be tough to know what to buy to ensure that your lightbulbs function the way you need them to. But once you get the hang of it, making the switch is a no-brainer as the energy efficiency and longevity of an LED bulb pays for itself over and over again. So without further ado, here is what you need to know to add this little improvement to your late winter project list.

The first thing you’ll want to think about is whether you want a cool or warm hue in various rooms of your home. Light is measured in degrees Kelvin and the brightness of light bulbs mimic the brightness of the sun. To give you an idea of what this means, the sun is at its brightest at around midday when it measures a very bright, white-blue light that tops out at about 6000K. A morning sunrise or afternoon sunset will be a warmer or more orange hue and will measure in at about 3000K. Generally, 4000k is considered neutral.

So how do we convert that sunlight to inside light? If you’re used to incandescent bulbs, you’re probably thinking about wattage. But contrary to popular belief, wattage is actually the measure of energy a bulb uses as opposed to its brightness. To measure brightness you need to consider lumens, which will help make the conversion easier. As an example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb creates 800 lumens of light, but an LED bulb that produces the same amount of brightness only requires 15 watts. Here is a chart to illustrate the conversions.

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 2.27.03 PM.png

So after figuring out the math, how do you choose the right bulb for your home? If you’re a 9-to-5er, chances are that you’re home a lot more often when the sun is coming up or going down, and you’d probably be more comfortable with LED lighting that replicates a warm glow. This is especially true in relaxing rooms like bedrooms and living rooms. In these cases, I would suggest no more than 4,000 lumens. If you work from a home office or do a lot of cooking, these rooms require brighter light, so 6,000 lumens of light or greater might be more appropriate. 

It’s also worth noting that many LED light bulbs come with dimmer settings which can be very helpful in controlling light so long as your current fixtures are set up for it. I’d also keep an eye out for the ENERGY STAR logo when shopping for LED lights. While many manufacturers offer serious energy efficiency claims, ENERGY STAR actually tests and certifies the ones that offer the best products in the market.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Bobby O's Top Tips to Keep Winter Utility Bills Down

Chelsea O'Donnell

Outdoor lights, Christmas trees, and colder temperature mean that December is usually one of the most expensive months in terms of utility bills. But with the holiday season behind us, January is a great time to take a closer look at how much energy you’re using and address the issues in your home that are causing those high costs.

One resource that not enough people take advantage of is an energy audit by Energize Connecticut. For a fee, a home energy consultant will come to your home and conduct a full assessment, covering your furnace and water heater, air ducts, windows, doors and more. Plus they can offer rebates for upgrades and repairs. To apply, visit the EnergizeCT website and choose your service provider.

If you’re not in the market for an assessment would still like to enjoy some serious home energy savings, here are the top five spots I always check for air leaks and heat loss.

  1. Windows. Believe it or not, hanging heavy fabric drapes can help you retain up to 25% of the heat in your home. This is especially true with large glass doors that aren’t being used in the winter months. Also, be sure to check for gaps. Wooden window frames get warped with age and can lead to serious air leakage. For cracks that are smaller than a quarter of an inch, a silicone caulk will work to plug up areas where heat is escaping. Also, if you feel air coming right through your single panes and the glass rattles with the wind, beef them up with some shrink film. This product can be found at any home supply store and can be cut to fit any size.

  2. Doors. We don’t often open the windows in the winter, but doors are a different story. They let lots of air escape, but they can’t be sealed completely because we need to use them. I always suggest inspecting your door sweep to ensure it’s not damaged and replacing it if the bristles have come loose. A door snake or seal can also come in handy, which can be purchased at any big box store or even made at home with an old pair of tights and some rice, beans, newspaper or another filling.

  3. Attic. Those of you with an attic hatch are likely losing a ton of warm air through its frame. We all know that hot air rises, so seal up that hatch with heavy duty plastic, or build yourself an insulated box to fit over the entryway if you still need access to storage.

  4. Water Heater. Insulate your water heater’s tank and pipes with fiberglass. For the tank, fit a fiberglass blanket using foil tape, but be sure not to cover any valve or pipe openings. For the pipes, you can use fiberglass wrap or foam insulation. By adding a layer of insulation to your water heater, you’ll keep the warmth from escaping into the air and you’ll protect the machine from condensation in the warmer months.

  5. Insulation. Most homes simply do not have enough insulation in the walls and attic, which is probably the number one contributor to sky-high energy bills. Insulation acts as a barrier against heat flow, helping to keep the warm air inside the house by slowing the flow and stopping the heat from getting outside. The United States Environment Protection Agency says that with proper insulation, the average home in our area can save approximately 16 to 50 percent in total heating and cooling costs depending on the age and condition of the home. Plus it’s one of the highest rated home improvements in terms of real estate resale value.

Happy New Year Everyone! Here’s to a warm, happy and healthy 2019!

Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Give Your A/C a Routine Check Before It Gets Beat by the Heat

Chelsea O'Donnell

Now is about the time when your central A/C or window units start to get some heavy play time. But with the first day of summer barely behind us, there are a lot of hot days left for those appliances to continue to perform at their best. A quick maintenance check now will give you peace of mind and ensure that your cooling units won’t kick the bucket during the most critical part of the summer. Plus a regular check-up will likely extend the life of the appliance too. Here are some of the things that you can do.

  1. Pick a cooler day, such as tomorrow, to work on your A/C as you’ll need to shut off the power. This means both flipping the switch on the button and either unplugging it from the wall or locating the exterior shut off box on a central A/C unit. Remember, these are run on electricity so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you have a breaker box, you can cut the power there too.

  2. For those of you with an exterior compressor, it’s time to remove the fan. First, unscrew the fan cage with a screwdriver and then take the fan right out of the unit. You’ll be shocked to see how many leaves, pollen, and debris can accumulate here. Clean the interior of the unit out with a regular or wet/dry vacuum and wipe down the fan blades too. Any dust, dirt or pollen will slow your A/C down and since there has been so much this year, it’s worth doing a thorough job.

  3. Next, use a garden hose to clean the fins from the inside out. I know I spoke about the wonders of a pressure washer last week, but A/C unit fins are delicate and a pressure washer will break them. For this job, stick to the garden hose with a light flow of water. After you clean the inside, you can repeat on the outside. If the exterior is really dirty, you can apply a non-toxic cleaning solution, but just be careful not to damage the fins by scrubbing.

  4. Like I said, those fins are easy to break and you may notice that the metal is bent in some places. This can cause air flow reduction and less power in and out of your machine. Using a butter knife, straighten any misaligned fins, taking caution not to pierce the tubing underneath.

  5. Now you can put the unit back together. I would clear all debris from around the base of the unit as anything that is constricting the airflow will make the unit less efficient. This is a good time to take a level to it as well. If the unit is out of alignment, this can cause improper function. Remember, the ground often shifts so checking it periodically is a good idea.

  6. Finally, it’s time to move inside and clean the vents and filters. Most HVAC specialists will recommend changing the filters at least twice a year and for window units, I recommend cleaning them at least once a month. Not only will your air flow be more efficient, you’ll also reduce the amount of dirty air blowing through the house. When replacing filters, make sure to match the airflow rating from your previous filter to ensure that it will work properly.

Now it’s time to breathe easy and turn your units back on. Remember, there are some jobs that should only be tackled by a professional, so if you come across a leak, major rusting, or something else that doesn’t seem quite right, do yourself a favor and get in touch with an HVAC expert. An early catch might just save you from suffering through a stifling, uncomfortable summer and an expensive bill.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.