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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. 

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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: weatherstripping

Energy Efficiency Home Upgrades That Add Value While Saving Money

Chelsea O'Donnell

In case helping the planet isn’t enough motivation for you, creating an energy-efficient home not only reduces your utility bills, but it can increase its value too. Real estate buyers are showing increased interest in homes that carry  Energy Star certifications and paying less for heat and electricity is a huge bonus too.

With so many options to improve your home’s energy consumption, how do you choose what to focus on? Here are some of my favorite upgrades which are easy to implement and will give you the best bang for your buck.

Insulation

Adding or upgrading your attic and wall insulation is a fantastic and cost-efficient way to lower heating and cooling costs. For an average 1,000 square foot ranch, the project costs around $2,000 and the benefit can be upwards of $600 per year on energy bills. In our area, more than 75% of homes are underinsulated which allows heat to escape in the winter and cool air to be lost in the summer. If you’re considering central air for the coming season, don’t even think about putting a system in without having your insulation inspected first.

Solar Panels

While not cheap or easy, solar panels do offer excellent energy savings and are worth mentioning here. The cost can be anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 and once installed, you can expect savings of $500-$1,000 per year on energy costs. Solar panels require very little maintenance but many people consider them unsightly. Suppliers are working on better aesthetic solutions and I think we’ll see a lot of improvements in this area in the next few years. Pound for pound, insulation is a less expensive solution with comparable benefits.

Windows and Doors

Homes lose a ton of energy through windows and doors, especially older ones with loose fitting frames and single pane glass. Energy efficient windows and doors are a smart investment as they will not only save you money in the long run, they are also easy to clean and operate with virtually no required upkeep.

Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is usually the first recommendation I make for homeowners looking to lower their utility bills cheaply. Energy audits reveal that up to 40 percent of heating and cooling losses occur through air leaks, particularly in older homes. Sealing off these leaks is an easy project that any homeowner can do, it’s very low cost, and the materials can be found at any home improvement store.

Programmable Thermostats

I love programmable thermostats which can help you reduce your energy consumption when you don’t need it. A smart system will allow you to turn down heating and cooling when you’re at work or away for a period of time and the savings will often be recouped in a year. While systems differ, you can expect to spend $200 or less depending on the bells and whistles included.

Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces have an energy-efficient rating of more than 70% where wood-burning fireplaces rank around 15%. The cost to convert wood to gas is roughly $2,000, which will pay for itself in just a few years time. While many homeowners love both the smell and the look of a traditional wood burner, new technology has helped gas fireplaces look much more appealing and less artificial than when they were first introduced to the market.

Low-Flow Faucets

While heating and cooling are the biggest energy eaters, it’s definitely worth thinking about your water intake too. Low-flow hardware for toilets and showers is cheap to buy, easy to install, and can cut water usage by up to 50%. This is both great for the environment and can save you upwards of $200 per year on the bill. If you have an old dishwasher and washing machine, now is the time to replace those too as energy efficiency has been the biggest upgrade focus for appliances in recent years.

Making smart energy efficiency investments is a good idea for any homeowner, but it’s important to learn more about your individual home and where improvements can be made. Scheduling a no or low-cost energy audit is a great place to start.

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.

Bob’s Favorite Fall Must-Haves for Easy Autumn Maintenance

Chelsea O'Donnell

The temperature is officially turning which means now is a great time to start getting ready for the rapid changing of seasons. There is nothing worse than being unprepared, so today I have compiled my list of the must-have products and services that you should invest in to keep your home clean, warm, and well maintained from now right through the winter. Let’s get to it.

Gutter Guards. Most homeowners don’t love the idea of getting up on a roof, but leaving your gutters to clog up with leaves can cause major problems as winter sets in. Gutter guards work as a shield over your gutters, allowing the water to pass through while repelling leaves, whirlybirds, twigs, and other potential blockages. I install gutter guards several times a week and it’s definitely not a one-size fits every house situation. Be sure to get a professional to come out and give you a recommendation before you buy.

Weatherstripping. If you have an older home, you likely feel a lot of air passing through your doors and windows. If you’re not quite ready for a full replacement, weatherstripping can help you to retain some of the heat in your home. Hardware stores generally carry felt, foam, and my personal favorite, vinyl tubing, which lasts the longest.  Most can be installed by a handy homeowner in just a few hours.

A Really Good Rake. Cleaning up the yard is backbreaking work, especially if you don’t have the right equipment. One of my favorite rakes is the Fiskars Leaf Rake with Cushioned Grip which has a wide head that can move a ton of leaves with one grab. Best of all, it’s under $20. If you have a lot of smaller areas, the Gardenite Adjustable Garden Leaf Rake is another great option to tackle tight spots.

A Cordless Blower. With a good rake should come a good blower, but many don’t have the power to blast wet leaves and move around the yard efficiently. I am loving the Powersmith 40V Max Battery-Powered Leaf Jet Blower which blows at 120 miles per hour and is cordless so I can get right to the very edges of my property. What’s really great is the cruise control so I don’t have to hold down the trigger to keep the machine at the right level of power.

A Furnace Inspection. It’s a good idea to make sure your furnace or boiler is in tip-top shape before the cold weather comes. Book an inspection now and be sure to change your filters to make sure everything is running smoothly. In addition to the peace of mind, a quick tune-up will help you save on your energy bills too.

A Great Snow Shovel. Connecticut winters are unpredictable so it’s a good idea to be ready. According to reviews, the True Temper 18-Inch Ergonomic Mountain Mover takes the cake with its 18-inch plastic scoop, curved shaft, and nylon leading edge which protects sensitive surfaces like a deck or patio. It’s not cheap at between $25 and $30, but a good shovel can last for years, so it’s well worth the investment.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions 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.

Don’t Let Your Home Get Drafty This Winter

Chelsea O'Donnell

If your house has old doors, winter can be a drafty time of year. Luckily, there is an easy, do-it-yourself fix to help you keep the cold air out and the warm air in where it belongs. Here is my guide to sealing your doors before the real cold sets in.

Examine your current weatherstripping for any rips, bends or wear and tear. In older doors, the seals usually deteriorate before the doors themselves, which will allow air to pass through. If you can feel a draft coming from the edges around a closed door, it’s time to give them a little facelift. However, if the door is damaged, sagging, or rattling, it might be time for a new one entirely.

Measure the top and sides of your door jambs with precision; you want the fit to be snug and airtight. I always say, measure twice and buy once! Once you measure the doors, you’ll find the materials that you need either at the local hardware store or online on any home improvement retail site. In addition to weather stripping, you might also need a sweep, which is the strip along the bottom of the door that looks like a tiny broom and keeps the gap between the door and the floor sealed. If yours is damaged or has broken off in parts, now is a good time to replace it. Luckily, basic individual weatherstrips and sweeps can cost as little as $10 each, which is a lot less than investing in a new door.

Just like painting, when you start weatherproofing you’ll need to begin on a clean surface. Scrape any old debris so the gap is free and clear. You want to make sure your gap is in good shape to lay the strips evenly and you need to have enough room for the strips to grip properly.

Finally, you can install your new weatherstripping. Cut it to size before you put it in the groove and ensure that you don’t stretch the material to fit – it will return to its original size and leave you short. Secure it firmly into the groove and open and close the door to look for any protrusions or gaps.

Weatherstripping is a quick, inexpensive fix that will help you stay warmer in the winter and give your heating bill a noticeable break. But just like any home improvement tasks, if you’re not comfortable using basic tools and equipment, you might want to leave the job to a professional. Either way, keep your family warm this winter and take some time for yourself to enjoy the holiday season.

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.