The Meltdown

This is one of those vulnerable articles. It’s hoped that as I share about my/our weaknesses you too will be encouraged to own and accept your weaknesses, defeating any perfectionistic stride that tends to disrupt and even destroy relationships.Meltdown: think nuclear plant meltdown where the nuclear core is severely overheated and catastrophic damage results.We have a five-year-old, and very recently something happened that often happens at his age-and-stage. He had a meltdown. The process normally goes like this. Creative idea, build something, doesn’t work, frustration sets in, destroy the creation in anger. Not all the time, just occasionally. Dealing with pre-school children all the time, and having had another three children who are now adults, there’s nothing alarming in it. Besides, our five-year-old has witnessed us having meltdowns – and I can speak only for myself here.


There are all sorts of meltdowns, not just the angry ones, but also the teary ones, the anxious ones, the prideful ones, and the panicky ones.I want to share with you the kind of meltdown I’m capable of; this would happen occasionally in 2016 when I was thrust into an occupational world that I did not want any part of, but had to engage in just to support my family.I was very blessed to be offered work – two separate part-time positions – through friends, one of whom was my ex-wife, when pastoral ministry work went belly-up.Meltdowns occurred because of both jobs, but the case in point here centred around my job working with my ex-wife. These meltdowns never had anything to do with her – we, her and her husband and I, had a very good working relationship, always trying to outdo one another in what we gave.But it was the nature of the work that had me positioned like a fish out of water. I was packing chilled meals for home delivery, and so regularly my mind was doing backflips, that at times, my head was saying, ‘I cannot do this… it’s too hard… my brain is wired to work with people, one person at a time, not five or more tasks held in the mind at any one time, with noise, with pressure, with interruptions. (I need to say that since I burned out in 2005 my brain has some kind of permanent disability in managing many tasks simultaneously.) I was always fine when I got out on the road to do the deliveries, other than the times I had meltdowns. And this happened on a half dozen occasions.Here is the nature of that kind of meltdown. I would call my wife and say, panicked and in tears, ‘Darling, I cannot do this anymore… it’s too hard… my mind can’t keep up… I’m useless.’ After 10-minutes of hearing me out she would usually help me accept that I could get through the delivery run. I was usually fine after this. The inner meltdown in the presence of others manifested in an outward meltdown when it was safe with my wife.


There was nothing wrong with the delivery driving job, and in fact it taught me important skills, helped me master a new degree of patience, gave me empathy for those in that kind of work, and it showed me what I’m not good at. And it showed me how, all through my life, I’ve had the capacity for this kind of depressed meltdown that comes straight out of my wounded child state.We all have meltdowns, even those who seem to have perfect lives, and especially those who look like they’ve got their lives under control.I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had a meltdown. So, what do we do with this?We stop feeling ashamed of them whilst we do all we can to limit the kind of damage meltdown can bring.

How IoT & Smart Home Automation Will Change the Way We Live

The smart home

The concept behind the smart home is that an automation system will be able to operate systems around the house. The variety of potential options are considerable and includes environmental systems (lighting, heating, climate control etc.), entertainment systems, individual appliances, and home security systems. While the idea is that many operations can be automated – thus saving the home owner time and effort – these systems can also be user controlled. An example would be being able to set the heating to come on later if you were going to get home later or telling the entertainment system to find you some suitable music for working to.

There is significant potential for IoT smart home solutions to change the way that we live. The main ways include:

  • Saving time. Many of the IoT smart home products are intended to take out of our hands the various nugatory activities that we have to do on a daily basis, leaving more of our time for important or enjoyable activities.
  • Improving quality of life. By making the home an easier, healthier and less stressful place to be in, smart home automation using IoT can help improve the quality of life.
  • Saving money. Fully utilizing IoT can save money on house operating costs, for example by reducing unnecessary heating or lighting bills and integrating with smart grids to give the user greater visibility on the electricity they are using.

The health and security benefits

One of the main areas that has been explored for smart homes is that related to improving health. Several IoT smart home products have been developed that aim to monitor the status of the environment in the house. This includes, for example, monitoring the condition of the air across a number of categories – humidity, temperature, dust, CO2 etc. This information is then transmitted to a control interface where the user (the home owner or house occupier) can examine it and take appropriate action. Alternatively, this can be linked into other systems whereby automatic action can be taken to bring conditions back to the desired level, such as automatically turning air cooling or filtering systems on.

Other appliance-based solutions that are on the market include fridges that can monitor the status of food, checking for spoilage or similar, while automated cleaning can help reduce dust and dirt in the house.

Meanwhile, linking in security systems into IoT has made homes more secure. One of the most popular way this has been done is through using IoT enabled cameras in or around a house that enable a picture or video feed to be sent so that the home owner-occupier is able to check on the situation when they are away or when they are in another part of the property. Often these types of devices have multiple features integrated into them, such as automated motion sensors, sound detection, event-triggered video recording and so on.

Future developments

It’s generally accepted that there are three generations of home automation development so far:

  • First generation: wireless technology with proxy server, e.g. Zigbee automation;
  • Second generation: artificial intelligence controls electrical devices, e.g. Amazon Echo;
  • Third generation: robot buddy who interacts with humans, e.g. Robot Rovio, Roomba.

While the cutting edge of technology often gets the headlines, in many homes there is still substantial progress to be made with the first and second generation of systems. It is often entertainment-linked systems that generate the most media coverage, with the various personal home assistants – such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, Sonos One, Apple HomePod and others – having been particularly popular. With the growing and accelerating roll out and uptake by customers of IoT smart home tools and solutions, demand for additional services or tools is likely to increase. The sheer range of potential within the smart home will ensure that IoT within the house will continue to develop in the years ahead.

What You Can Expect From A Luxury Home

Most people define luxury majorly in terms of price but there is so much more to luxury than just the amount of money you spend. It is very hard to define luxury homes in an exact way because this is something made up of several factors. If you are looking for a posh home to buy, there are some general qualities expected within it and they are what together create the luxury that is the home. Below are some of the features that such homes tend to have in common.

Prime location

Luxury homes tend to in coveted locations like on the beach or overlooking a sea for that matter. Others are in secluded mountainous areas or atop one while others may be overlooking a beautiful city. It all depends on whether you wish to have your home in the city or the country but generally they will be prime located attracting high end buyers for that reason.

High price

Like mentioned earlier price does interpret luxury and most homes under this category will be highly priced. Different areas attract different prices but you cannot expect to pay anything lower than half a million when looking for a luxurious home to and the prices can go way up into tens of millions depending on the magnitude of the property.

Exquisite amenities

Luxury home carry the most exquisite amenities in that you can conduct your life right from your home without needing other services out of it. Most will have a gym, spa, swimming pool, Jacuzzis, arcade rooms, movie theaters and even decontamination rooms. Some luxury homes come with outrageous amenities and they are what attract the buyers because they make the property unique, self-sufficient and convenient in every sense. They are some of the factors commanding prices apart from location.

Premier quality

Luxury homes have everything selected with care from the appliances, finishes, design and even materials used for construction and décor. They are all cut above standards so you the buyer can have something to pride yourself in. Hardwoods, marbles, crystals and Venetian plasters among others are common components in the homes.

Exclusivity

High end buyers including high profile individuals and celebrities treat their homes as serene refuges hence privacy is given center stage in luxury homes. If the home is not located in a secluded land large in size, then privacy will be achieved using foliage covers, high walls and tightly gated entrances sometimes complete with guards to keep the peace.

Luxury homes without doubt have so much to offer to buyers; as long as you can buy it, you can enjoy it. Some buyers actually look for homes that have interesting stories or histories behind them to give them that edge that everyone yearns for. Whatever the choice you make, you can definitely expect much more from a luxury property than a standard normal home. The choices are numerous so finding your ideal luxury home should not be too much of a task.

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!