Q: My electric water heater had a six-year warranty and is now nine years old. A plumber told me to replace it before I have a problem such as a leak because it may be a major one that floods my finished basement. Do you agree? —Michael Lah Portland, CT
The Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced the recall of two models of Optimus portable electric space heaters, including one model that Consumer Reports judged a Don't Buy: Safety Risk last year and asked the safety agency to recall.
If the spring showers haven't already forced you into a dehumidifier purchase, the dog days of summer to come should. New models often appear in late spring and early summer, so be on the lookout for sales and in-store promotions. Delay too long and you might have to settle for a less-than-optimal dehumidifier—either a unit that's sized incorrectly to your needs or one that comes up short in Consumer Reports' dehumidifier tests.
A hot summer forecast—and air-conditioner prices that are going up with the mercury—could mean an early run on window units. But you needn't wait and sweat it out: Consumer Reports testers just named 15 top room air conditioners that include several small and mid-sized models priced at around $200 or less. But the volume of some we tested could keep you up at night. And a few might have you struggling with less-than-intuitive controls.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is already one of the smartest devices on the market, learning your habits and controlling your home's climate accordingly. Thanks to Nest's WI-Fi capability, the $250 gadget can also receive IQ-enhancing software upgrades, including a batch this week designed to conserve energy during the cooling season.
This month while some regions of the country are flirting with temperatures in the eighties others are still digging out from snow. But summer will be here all too soon so it's a good time to make sure your air conditioner is in working order before a real heat wave hits. Air conditioners fail because they're installed wrong, serviced poorly, or not maintained properly. Some problems you can fix yourself but others may take a call to a professional. Here are the five most common problems with air conditioners and how to troubleshoot them, according to the federal Department of Energy.
Purchased a portable generator recently? You need to make sure your home has working carbon monoxide alarms. Any equipment that runs on an internal combustion engine, including generators, lawn mowers, power washers, and cars, can unleash this colorless, odorless, and highly poisonous gas into your home.
More shoppers are reaching for the credit cards--total consumer debt ticked up 0.3 percent in the final months of 2012, the first increase in four years, according to the New York Federal Reserve. That may be good news for the economy, but it could spell ruin for homeowners who get hit with an unexpected home repair. So before you rack up any more debt, read our checklist of problems not to be ignored.
As a result of the last-minute enactment of the Taxpayer Relief Act earlier this year, six common energy-efficient upgrades you may have made to your home in 2012 or plan to make this year are eligible for a federal tax credit. Replacement windows and doors, new roofs and upgrades to heating and ventilation systems all qualify for a credit of up to $500. The improvements must be made to your existing home and principal residence, new homes do not qualify. Here are the details, according to Energy Star.
Many of the goals outlined by President Obama last night in his State of the Union speech will take time, and the cooperation of Congress, to meet. But work on his challenge to Americans to save energy at home can begin right away by taking such simple steps as plugging a leak, changing a lightbulb, setting your thermostat to match your schedule and washing only full loads of laundry and dishes.
High-definition screens, web-enabled controls, smart capabilities—you'd expect to find these features on the latest televisions and tablets. But increasingly they're also on thermostats, as manufacturers look to up the wow factor of these relatively mundane products, while also making them easier to use. These features, which were on some of the top-rated thermostats from our latest tests, are also on new models introduced by Lennox and Honeywell at the International Builders' Show.
In addition to holding down taxes for all but the wealthiest Americans, the fiscal package passed this week includes a number of incentives for homeowners to become more energy efficient. Buried in the 150-page document that is the American Taxpayer Relief Act are tax credit extensions for energy-efficient appliances, building materials, and more.
January is the traditional time for belt-tightening and waist watching. To offset your holiday expenses, you may also want to take a look at ways to trim your bloated utility bill. Adjusting your home heating to your schedule is one way as is switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances. Here are some tips from the experts at Consumer Reports and the Department of Energy.
With Superstorm Sandy stirring up talk of climate change, here's one encouraging statistic: Americans used less energy in 2011 than in the previous year, according to the latest energy flow chart from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The decline was largely due to the transportation and residential sectors' embrace of higher-efficiency technologies, such as wind power and hydroelectricty.
With winter temperatures expected to be near normal, most households will be spending more to heat their homes than last season when temperatures were mild. The pocketbook pain will be especially acute for the six percent of homes that heat with oil—average expenditures for those households are forecast to be higher than any previous winter on record, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and almost 20 percent more than last year.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: