Reduce Your Water Heater's Energy Use

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If you’re trying to save money on your energy bills, your water heater is not your friend. Most tanks work constantly to keep hot water ready when you need it but water cools as it sits, thus wasting energy. So how can you combat “standby heat loss”? Find out below.

 

Lower Thermostat, Higher Savings

Lowering the temperature on your water heater by a measly 10 degrees can save you up to 5% on your heating bill. Most water heaters come with a preset temperature of 140 degrees, but you can go down to 120 degrees and still have plenty of warm water.

 

Drain The Tank

Sediment builds up in the tank over time and causes efficiency to dramatically decrease. Draining the tank periodically will allow it to run more efficiently and will save you money.

 

Wrap The Tank With Insulation

Have an older tank that’s located in a cool place in your home? Wrapping it in an insulating blanket will help tremendously. Look for an R-value of at least 24, which you can purchase and install for about $20. This is a cheap and easy way to reduce energy costs.

In addition to these tips, regular maintenance is a necessity. If you notice that your water heater is not operating properly, give the plumbing experts at Uptown a call. We’ll come by to diagnose and solve the problem without making you wait!

Choosing Perfect Plumbing Fixtures In The Twin Cities

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When it comes to your bathroom’s plumbing, the options can be overwhelming. Often times people neglect to choose a sink or faucet until the end of the project because they can’t decide on what they want. But waiting until the end is not a wise choice. Here’s a guide that will help you choose the right fixtures when planning your remodeling project.

 

 

Choosing A Sink

  • Drop-in: drop-in sinks are considered to be the most economical, but a lip where the sink and the countertop meets can cause a challenge when cleaning.

  • Undermount: if you prefer a sink that is very easy to clean, you’ll be very happy with an undermount sink. They are installed underneath the countertop so there is no lip where the sink meets the countertop.

  • Pedestal: if you have a small bathroom and saving space is a top priority, a free-standing pedestal sink is the perfect solution.

     

Focal Point Faucets

  • Wide-spread: with separate hot and cold water handles, widespread faucets are available from 6- to 20-inch drillings and require 3 holes.

  • Two-handle centerset: with valves spanning 4 inches, both handles and the spout of this faucet are combined on a single base. Each valve requires a separate hole in the countertop.

  • Wall-mounted: this faucet will add to the “easy cleaning” scheme of your bathroom as  there are no tight spaces to clean between. Requiring a separate wall-mount valve and drain, this faucet works well with above-the-counter and freestanding basins.

     

Now that you’ve chosen your sink and faucet, you need to choose a finish. Common finishes include bronze, polished nickel and chrome. Choosing a finish is a matter of personal preference - choose what you think will pair nicely with the decor of your bathroom.

When you’re ready to have your new plumbing fixtures installed, call the experts at Uptown. Our experienced and skilled team of plumbers are here to help with all your plumbing installations, repairs and maintenance solutions and we’d love to help with your next bathroom remodel project.

3 Ways To Lower Electric Bills In The Twin Cities This Winter

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You already know how to seal your windows and doors to keep your home warm this winter, but did you know that there are numerous other energy consuming items that can cost you a pretty penny this season? It’s time to manage your home’s electrical devices to avoid skyrocketing electric bills. Follow the 3 tips below and start seeing changes immediately:

 

 

  1. Not in use? Unplug it! Even though your electronics are not physically turned on, they are still consuming electricity if they are plugged in. According to USA Today, “TVs, computers and other gadgets are guilty of sucking lots of energy day and night, even when you’re not using them.”

     

  1. Avoid peak hours. Running devices that consume electricity during peak hours is a definite “no-no”. Power companies change the cost of electric based on the time of day and operating during peak hours can cost your 30%-60% more.

     

  1. Go energy-friendly. We can’t stress enough importance on energy-efficient electronics. If your appliances do not have the Energy Star label you’re throwing money out the window. Similarly, simply changing your light bulbs to LEDs can make a dramatic difference when it comes to savings.

Keep in mind that your friends at Uptown have been serving the Twin Cities for over 100 years. For fast same day, quality electrical services and solutions for your home or business in Minneapolis - St. Paul, call and speak with the team at Uptown today.

Tackling A Clogged Tub Drain In The Twin Cities

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What are the most common causes of a clogged bathtub drain? Hair and soap scum. It takes a while for a bathtub drain to clog, as hair, soap scum and body oils build up over time. When your tub starts to drain slowly and it’s looking like a clogged drain, follow the tips below to defeat even the most stubborn backups.

 

Use Your Hands

Minor drain clogs due to hair build-up can often be resolved quickly and easily. All you need to do is remove the hair from the cross hairs in your drain basket. Once all hair is removed, you can test the drain by flushing hot water through the tub.

 

Break Out The Plunger

If you thought a plunger would only work on toilets, think again. Filling your bathtub with just enough water so the plunger is submerged, and performing a few plunge strokes is usually enough to clear a drain of a clog.

 

Natural Remedy

If using your hands or using a plunger is not your forte, you can use common household solutions to blast through a stubborn backup. Just mix ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar with 3 cups of water and pour it down the drain.

If none of these options work, your drain may need professional attention. Give the plumbing and drain experts at Uptown a call and we’ll come by to fix the problem. Visit our website for more information.

5 Low-Tech Ways To Heat Your Home This Winter

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With energy prices going up and temperatures going down, it’s becoming more and more difficult to heat your home during the winter. You can try keeping the thermostat down but then you and your family may be uncomfortable. You can have your heating system replaced, but that isn’t cheap. You can install double glazing and thorough insulation throughout your home but that takes time. Sounds like a lose-lose situation right? Well, here’s a list of 5 low-tech ways to heat your home this winter without breaking the bank:

 

  1. Thick Curtains - it’s time to switch out your sheer summer curtains and replace them with thicker, lined curtains. Thicker curtains will help to trap the heat inside your home rather than having it escape through tiny cracks in your window’s insulation.

  2. Clear Your Radiators - make sure to avoid placing furniture in front of your radiators. Large furniture items can actually absorb the heat and prevent it from spreading throughout the room.

  3. Dress Up The Floors - floors account for as much as 10% of heat loss if they’re not insulated. Placing carpets over your bare floors can serve as an insulator and can make your feet feel warmer.

  4. Check The Loft Hatch - if you have an insulated loft, make sure the hatch is also properly insulated. This can be done by using the same self-adhesive strips you use on your windows and doors.

  5. Set Timers - if you have a programmable thermostat, make sure to use it to its full potential! Set the timer so the heat comes on periodically rather than have it pumping all day.

Trust the heating experts at Uptown when it comes to keeping your home comfortable during the bitter cold winter. Need a furnace tune-up or a new heating system? Give us a call today at 651-315-7995.

National Bathtub Party Day

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December 5th is National Bathtub Party Day - so grab your suds and your favorite towel and take a nice relaxing bath! In order to celebrate we have chosen some of our favorite Dream Tubs to share with you:

 

  1. Sunken Tub: this magnificent tub lines up with the exterior pool. Open the window and it looks like a single pool!

     

     
  1. Granite Tub: and you thought granite could only be used for your counter tops. Check out this granite bathtub weighing in at over 2,000 pounds.

     

     
  1. Fireplace: what’s better than relaxing in the tub while a built-in fireplace sets the mood?

     


For quality plumbing solutions and on-time service across Minneapolis - St. Paul, rely on the professionals at Uptown Plumbing. Having a plumbing issue with your bathtub? Schedule an appointment for us to come take a look. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook.

Uptown Plumbing, Heating & Cooling: The Old Home Heating Experts

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Older homes often present unique challenges when it comes to heating. If you live in the Minneapolis - St. Paul areas of Minnesota, there is a good chance you are living in an old home. At Uptown we are the old home heating specialists with over 100 years of experience. What can you expect when you choose us for heating installation or repair? See below:

 

Free Estimates - thinking about having a new heating system installed? We can help with a FREE estimate!

 

Energy Efficient Technology - modern heating systems are far more energy efficient than older ones.

 

Older Home Specialists  - we have over 100 years of experience. We are familiar with the challenges older homes present and offer a range of solutions.

 

Features and Upgrades - today’s systems come equipped with the latest features like home zoning, digital thermostats and air quality control which can increase your level of comfort and save you money by conserving energy.

Hesitant to hire a heating technician? Don't be. You can trust that Uptown will provide you with the highest quality of work and our technicians will have the extensive knowledge needed to work in your old home. Give us a call today at 612-424-4611.

How To Fix A Frozen Pipe

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You’ve already performed a thorough inspection of your house and have taken the steps to prep for a harsh winter. Hopefully you’ve turned off all water lines that lead to the exterior of your home and have insulated any pipes that are exposed to the elements. If you haven’t, do not wait any longer! Frozen pipes are a messy and very expensive problem and if one happens to freeze in your home, here’s what you can do to solve the problem:

 

 

Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it and no matter how strong the container is, expanding water can rupture it.

 

How can you tell if a pipe is frozen? Turn on the faucet and if only a trickle comes out, there’s a good chance the pipe is frozen. Frozen pipes often occur against exterior walls, or where service water enters or exits your home. What can you do if you find a frozen pipe? Thaw it out.

 

There are several ways to thaw a frozen pipe:

  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen by using an electric heating pad.

  • Use a hair dryer and gently move the blower back and forth over the frozen section of the pipe.

  • Soak towels in hot water and wrap them around the pipe.

  • NEVER use a blowtorch, kerosene, propane heater or any other open flame device. This can severely damage your pipes and cause them to break.

How can you prevent the same pipes from freezing in the future? Consider relocating any exposed pipes. Have one of our professional plumbers perform this service. This is not a do-it-yourself job. Additionally, you can add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces that are subjected to freezing temperatures. For more information, give Uptown a call. We’re glad to speak with you about any plumbing, heating or electrical problems you may be experiencing.

10 Ways To Shrink Your Energy Bills This Winter

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Tired of seeing your energy bills skyrocket during the winter? There are plenty of things you can do around your house that require very little or no money out of your pocket that can save you a fortune. Here are 10 Ways To Shrink Your Energy Bills This Winter:

 

  1. Close the damper in your fireplace when it is not in use. A tightly closed damper will prevent warm air from escaping up through the chimney.

  2. Seal all cracks and air leaks in your windows, doors and plumbing. This process will cost you about $50 in materials, but the savings will outweigh the cost. All you need is caulk, insulation pads and weatherstripping.

  3. Your furnace needs a tune-up, stop putting it off. A heating system tune-up from the experts at Uptown will save you 10% or more on your heating bills. Sealing the ductwork reduces air leakage by 15% and heating bills from 3% to 10%..

  4. It may be time for appliance upgrades. Look for the ENERGY STAR, it will save you bundles of money. In fact, an energy efficient fridge can save you $80 per year while an upgraded clothes washer can saved you up to $110.

  5. Have an attic in your home? Chances are warm air is escaping up there. Increase the amount of insulation in your attic can save you up to 30% on your energy bills.

  6. The cost of heating your home is not getting any cheaper. However, pellet stoves can help. A new stove costs around $2,000 and it’s about $6 for a 40-pound bag of pellets. The benefit? 50% or more off your heating bills.

  7. The next time you’re craving a long, steamy shower remember this: heating water accounts for up to 11% of your utility bills. Take quick, cooler showers and consider purchasing an energy-efficient electric water heater to save up to 20% on your water heating bills.

  8. Not ready to spend a fortune on new window units? Installing storm windows will reduce heat loss by 25% or more. They are easy to install and are much cheaper than completely replacing your windows.

  9. If your gas or oil-fired unit is between 15 and 20 years old, it may be time to replace it. Chances are, it’s not an energy efficient machine and is costing you way more than you need to be spending to heat your home.

  10. Last but not least, sell your house. If your current home is not certified by Energy Star, you can be consuming up to 30% more energy. The payback time is immediate so you can say goodbye to those astronomically high energy bills.

At Uptown Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, our heating experts specialize in furnace repair and replacement. We are available with the parts and equipment when you need them. Don’t let a frigid winter leave you in an uncomfortable home. Give us a call today at 612-284-5789.

"Go Green" With Natural Holiday Decorations This Season

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Go green this holiday season with energy-efficient decorations. By making “green” holiday choices, you can decorate your home and show off your holiday spirit while saving money and conserving resources. See below for ways you can substitute power consuming decorations with natural items.

 

Consider using few or no lights this year. Opt for decorations such as pine cones, candles and fresh greenery that look and smell wonderful, without consuming electricity. Natural birch branches with red winterberries tied together with ribbons will turn an ordinary banister into a festive winter wonderland.

 

If you choose to decorate with lights, plug both indoor and outdoor lights into a timer to save electricity. Remember to turn them off at night before you go to sleep to avoid fires. If you notice any discoloration of electrical outlets while decorating, it may require professional attention. Give Uptown a call and we will come to your home to make sure the outlet is safe.

 

Brighten up your home by lighting candles in decorative vases. Add holiday charm by using faux snow and pinecones inside the vase. Not only do candles provide natural light, a pleasant aroma will fill your home.

 

Create a cozy, warm atmosphere by lighting a fire and giving your furnace a rest. Even if you’ve had an energy-efficient heating system installed, natural heat from the fireplace will keep hard earned cash in your wallet. Don’t forget about the importance of maintaining your heating system, we’ll make sure your system and all of its parts are working at maximum efficiency.

Choosing natural decorations will help to balance out the inevitable increase in energy consumption that comes along with the holiday season.