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Save Money by Converting from Oil to Gas Heating

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Save Money by Converting from Oil to Gas Heating: Here’s How


gasIf you have an aging, oil-fired heating system and are dreading the day you’ll need to replace or service your heating system, you may want to explore converting from oil to gas; heating your Home with a cleaner, more fuel-efficient system will shrink your energy bill in the process.

Converting from oil to gas is an increasingly common move, especially in the Northeast, where more homes are heated with oil than in the rest of the country. Here are some of the many factors to consider when deciding which heating source is best for your home:

Converting from Oil to Gas Heat Saves Money

The numbers don’t lie. Heating your home with natural gas is cheaper than heating with oil. But comparing the current market price for the various fuel sources won’t tell the whole story; after all, oil and propane are measured in gallons and gas is measured in therms.

To accurately examine the cost of fuels based on the heat content they generate, the U.S. Energy Information Administration recommends using this formula—cost per million British thermal units (BTU). In states like New Hampshire, Michigan and Massachusetts, natural gas is the clear winner, according to this comparison provided by the N.H. Office of Energy and Planning, which details the average price per million BTU for gas, oil, propane and other fuel sources.

Natural Gas – $9.88 per million BTU

Fuel Oil – $19.85 per million BTU

Propane – $39.64 per million BTU

Average residential energy bills are much lower for households heating with natural gas, according to this 2016-2017 winter heating bill data from the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

RelatedLooking to Save? Here’s How to Find the Best HVAC Company

Estimated Average Residential Winter Heating Bills for 2016-17

Natural Gas – $728

Fuel Oil – $2,171

Propane – $2,176

Homeowners who heat with gas are also less vulnerable to price swings. This is at least partly because a greater percentage of natural gas used in the U.S. is produced domestically, while we remain much more dependent on petroleum-producing nations for our oil supply.

Switching from oil to gas can also produce savings because gas furnace systems generally cost less than their oil-burning counterparts. Because oil burns hotter, the furnace must be built from more robust materials to withstand the heat.

Heating with Gas is Cleaner Than Heating with Oil

Taking steps to reduce your impact on the environment is an increasingly important consideration for many people. There are also financial savings to be realized by converting to a cleaner-burning system.

For example, because heating with oil produces more carbon buildup than gas, having the system regularly cleaned is essential for safety as well as efficiency reasons. Studies have shown that a buildup of 1/16 of an inch of soot can decrease overall system efficiency by 7-8 percent.

The need to regularly replace oil filters also adds to annual maintenance costs, which can be as much as two to three times higher than for gas heating systems.

Does Your Home Have Access to Natural Gas?

To reap the potential benefits of switching from oil to natural gas heat, you’ll obviously need to have access to the supply. Is there a nearby gas main? If not, are there plans to expand into your area?

If you do have access, you’ll need to contact your natural gas distributor to discuss running a line from the nearest gas main to your home and installing a meter to measure your usage for billing purposes. If not, contacting your area’s natural gas provider will enable you to determine if there are plans to expand access to your location.

The expenses involved in getting your home connected can vary. The utility may perform this function at little or no cost for homes that are relatively close to the nearest pipeline (after all, they want your business). However, if you live at the end of a long driveway or in an area that might present excavation challenges, the charge to get you hooked up can be fairly significant.

If you do decide to convert from oil to gas, remember that the utility isn’t going to dig into frozen ground to run a line to your house in the middle of winter; plus, they may be booked up in the fall, so spring and summer can be a better time to schedule that work.

For homes that do not currently enjoy access to natural gas, propane can be another option that burns cleaner than oil. However, because it is a more expensive fuel source (cost per million BTU) than both gas and oil, saving money on your energy bill is not generally a motivation for making the switch to propane.

One More Good Reason for Converting to Natural Gas

One additional quality-of-life consideration is that heating with oil requires you to have one or more unwieldy oil tanks, usually located in your basement. These tanks deteriorate over time, potentially causing a safety hazard. Plus, they produce odor and grime.

Many homeowners find that getting rid of those bulky fuel tanks creates an opportunity to make better use of your basement space for tool shops, laundry areas or family playrooms.

When you’re considering making the switch from heating with oil to heating with gas, start by getting some expert advice from a trusted home heating contractor who can conduct a thorough analysis of your home’s existing system and thermal design, and then have an in-depth conversation about your objectives and options.

Tom Stachler is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Builder serving the Michigan Real Estate Market and specializing in the Ann Arbor, Saline and surround areas for residential and commercial real estate.  Check out the All MLS Links above for property for sale or contact us at 734-996-0000 when convenient.  

Improving the Indoor Environment of your Home

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Achieving a Near Perfect Indoor Environment for Your Home


air qualityAchieving the ideal indoor environment involves managing quite a few elements within the home. In addition to keeping you and your family comfortable, the right indoor air system regulates circulation and can keep allergens, various pests and irritants away from you, your family and your guests.

Though many homeowners want to achieve the perfect home environment, short of living in a sterile lab, the perfect indoor environment doesn’t exist. Fortunately, there are a number of technologies available today that make it easy to achieve near perfect conditions that let you live in comfort.

What Does Near Perfect Indoor Environment Involve?

When it comes to indoor environmental quality, there are a number of factors involved. Interior factors taken into consideration when constructing a home involve lighting, external sound or vibrations, and air quality and temperature.

Given these factors, what should homeowners ultimately expect? For one, lighting should provide the right balance of natural and artificial ambiance for desired tasks. Interior illumination has taken a major step forward by covering a wide spectrum of light ranges that work with the body’s natural daily rhythms.

Second, sound dampening insulation should not only minimize noise pollution from the outside, it should also include activities from adjacent rooms.

Finally, the central air conditioning unit should provide a level of air quality that is pure and free from harmful pollutants, toxicants and contaminants.

As homeowners and/or their family members spend most of their time at home, air quality becomes a necessity to a good home life.

The Importance of Air Quality

The importance of indoor air quality cannot be overstated, especially in the cases of people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory diseases. Poor indoor air quality can have significant negative effects on one’s health. Ozone and particulates can worsen respiratory conditions, trigger asthma attacks and cause allergic reactions.

Multiple studies reinforce the impact of air quality on health. The National Institutes for Health concluded significant causal relationships between dust mites and cat allergens and asthma, for example. A 2014 study by the World Health Organization reported 7 million premature deaths annually from poor air quality.

How Can Homeowners Improve Air Quality?

Fortunately, there are a number of appliances and technologies that can help to improve indoor environmental quality. Each of these can have a significant impact on air quality in your home.

Smart Thermostat: These programmable devices let you cool or heat your home remotely via a smartphone, tablet or desktop. These devices let you save energy and adjust the temperature while you are en route home from work, for example. Some models even can detect outdoor allergens and adjust accordingly.

Air Purifiers: By cleaning the air, a purifier helps to eliminate dust, pollen and bacteria, all of which can trigger allergies. When the purifier uses a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, a purifier can dramatically improve air quality.

Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers: Dryer air can irritate nasal passages and the lungs while moist air can harbor bacteria and mold. Keeping the humidity levels regulated is important to keep the indoor air healthy.

By regulating your environment in the areas of sound, light and air, that near perfect indoor environment is now within reach of each and every homeowner.

Tom Stachler is a licensed builder and broker providing quality realty service in the Ann Arbor, Saline and surrounding Michigan real estate markets.  Please click on the ALL MLS Links above or other info sources and contact us today with any questions.  

The Best Cities for Retirees to Call Home

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
Ask any retiree what mattered most in their search for a new home, and most will tell you location. A recent study by WalletHub ranked the top locations for soon-to-be retirees, weighing cost of living, health care, quality of life and recreation—and in a not-so-unexpected twist, the top three locations in the ranking were all within the Sunshine State:
  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Tampa, Fla.
  3. Miami, Fla.
  4. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  5. Atlanta, Ga.

Several other cities outside of the top five were named ideal for retirees, as well. Laredo, Texas was ranked No. 1 based on cost of in-home care and cost of living, while Plano, Texas, and Grand Prairie, Texas, were ranked No.1 and No. 3, respectively, in most employed retirees. (Many people of retirement age are simply forced to keep working due to a lack of savings, according to WalletHub.) Some sprawling metropolitan areas are suited for retirees seeking an active lifestyle; Washington, D.C., for instance, is tied for first for the most museums and senior centers per capita.

When it comes solely to weather, however, California cannot be beat: Glendale, Riverside and Bakersfield ranked in the top three for “mild weather,” followed by Scottsdale, Ariz., and Henderson, Nev.

Of course retirement anywhere is a joy and who is to say you can't split it between downtown Ann Arbor in the summer months and someplace warm in the winter.  Or maybe Harbour Springs or Charlevoix up north in the summer is great and a warmer climate in the winter?  

Tom Stachler is a licensed real estate broker and builder living and helping people with their realty needs for over 25 years now.  Looking for something in a retirement condo in the Ann Arbor, Saline or surrounding Michigan areas?  Contact us today or check out the All MLS listings link up top which is just a few of the helpful Links and services Tom can provide.

Adding Secret Spaces to your Home

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team

Adding Secret Space to your Home

For decades, characters like Batman and James Bond have popularized hidden doors and clandestine passageways. Many homeowners have followed suit, adding secret areas to store valuables, provide a safe place in an emergency or create a fun playroom. Could a hidden feature make you feel safer, secure your possessions better or add to your home's appeal?

Conceal a Room With Books
Sometimes the best part of a bookcase isn't what's on the shelves but what's behind it. These large structures create the perfect veil for a secret door to an undisclosed room. An architect can help you work with the space you have and figure out the details, like which direction a door should swing.

Secure Valuables in an Inconspicuous Safe
A safe is an excellent option for storing and protecting assets like jewelry, passports and cash. But if leaving it in plain sight feels too vulnerable, try concealing it entirely. A wall cutout behind a picture frame, cabinet or mirror makes for an ideal hideaway.

Make a Stealthy Escape
Want an inconspicuous escape route? Consider installing an underground passage with a secret switch to activate it. For example, chess pieces moved into a specific position or a particular book pulled from a shelf can reveal the opening. You can also choose from biometric authentication such as a fingerprint or eye scanner.

You don't have to be a superhero or a secret service agent to enjoy hidden spaces in your home. No matter what you have to hide, a secret room or passage can keep it concealed.

Tom Stachler is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Builder working in the Saline and Ann Arbor Areas communities in Michigan.  Check out the Links above to search for real estate for sale or new listings and other realty related information .  Please contact us today for further assistance at 734-996-0000

Dogs and Cats Face Many Summer Dangers

by Tom Stachler,ABR,CDPE - Group One Realty Team
Many summer activities we all enjoy can be dangerous for our furry friends, largely due to the intense heat. Here are some things to watch out for to keep our pets that live with us and are an important part of our families safe:

Dangers Outdoors

Heat Stroke or Heat Stress – Leaving your pet outside or in the car for too long can lead to heat stroke or stress. Tara Lynn, communications manager at the SPCA of Wake County, N.C., says the temperature inside a car can get to the point of extreme danger in less than 15 minutes.

“Cats will breathe with their mouth open, which is not good. They just basically can’t cool off. They’ll be unsettled or they’ll pace a lot. Bulldogs and dogs with smushed heads, smaller dogs or the ones that are really, really, really active, like a young Lab, are more prone to having it,” she says. “Their faces around their eyes will get red; their tongues will get red, as well. Their gums will be bright red. Sometimes they’ll vomit or have diarrhea. When those are happening, we are in dire straits.”Page Wages, a veterinarian at Care First Animal Hospital in North Carolina, says she’s seen two dogs die of heat stroke, both Labrador Retrievers. She said dogs will pant and not be able to stop, which usually they would after eight or so minutes.

Lynn recommends making sure your pets always have access to plenty of cool, fresh water.

“A good general rule is if you put the back of your hand down on the sidewalk or the street and leave it there for about five seconds, if it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely going to be too hot for them,” Lynn says. Hot Pavement or Hot Sand – Hot pavement or hot sand can burn the pads of your pets’ feet, which is very painful.

Sunburn – “Some pets, particularly dogs that have particularly thin hair or some dogs who don’t have much hair at all on their bellies, they can potentially get sunburned. So talking to your vet about some safe options for sunscreen is important,” Lynn says.

Snake Bites – Snakes come out at dusk and dawn, and have an increased presence at the beginning and end of the summer or after a big rain, Wages says.Wages says Neutrogena pediatric sunscreen is safe to use on dogs.

“Stay away from high grass areas around where there’s water. Those are usually where those guys will lurk and wait,” she says. “Just generally, the snakes put up a bit of a smell, so dogs and cats will be interested and might go investigate and get bit. If the dog or cat seems to be interested in something in the grass or bush area, try and get them away as quick as you can. If they do get bit, they need to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as they can.”

Bee Stings – Some dogs and cats, just like people, are allergic to bee stings. Their faces will swell up. Wages recommends Benadryl for bee stings, but some pets may need something stronger, like steroids.

Fire Ant Bites – Wages says pets will get a rash or a very swollen area around the bites, which are often concentrated around legs and feet.

Hot Spots – Found on dogs, these are irritated, red lesions, similar to eczema in people. “They usually start with a bug bite they chewed on or an area they got wet from playing with another dog that just stayed moist. Bacteria will grow on any moist skin, and they’ll get infections,” Wages says.

Cookouts or Parties

Burns From Grills – “I think one of the main things is a hot grill, and dogs smelling whatever’s cooking on the grill and getting really close to the grill, and depending on what kind of grill, if they get under it, they run the risk of being burned or hot grease dropping on them and burning them,” Lynn says.

Certain Foods and Plants – Raisins, grapes, garlic, onions and chocolate are toxic to dogs, and lilies are toxic to cats. Lynn points out that raw meat can upset the stomachs of pets that aren’t accustomed to such a diet, so keep a close eye on what they eat.

Alcoholic Beverages – Dogs and cats can get drunk just like people, but they shouldn’t. Do not give beer or liquor (or marijuana, in any form) to your pets.

In the Water

Ear Infections – Ear infections are more common in the summer months, when dogs are swimming more. “Cleaning their ears routinely (with an appropriate ear cleaner) will help prevent them from getting an infection,” Wages says.

Limber Tail – This is when a dog has a sprained tail. It happens when dogs are playing in the surf at the beach and get turned over the wrong way, or if they’ve had a very active day.

“When a dog’s tail is sprained, they’re injured but they don’t know how to act. They’ll sit there and shake sometimes, but they don’t want to stand up because when they stand up, something hurts, but they don’t know what, so they sit down,” Wages says. “It’s really sad. Or, they’ll walk along and it’s just kind of limp behind them instead of wagging.”

With treatment such as pain medication, a muscle relaxer and sometimes laser therapy, dogs are usually better in three or four days.

Drowning – While most dogs know how to swim, it’s a good idea to put a life jacket on your dog, Wages says.

“Labs and breeds that are always in the water are fine, unless they’re going to be swimming for a while, in which case I’d put a life jacket on them. If you’re out on a boat in the ocean, I would put a life jacket on them, because if something happens to the boat and the boat goes over, the dog’s going to get tired of swimming,” she says. “Any older dog or dog that has an injury of some sort—had an amputation or one of their legs doesn’t work as well—I’d put them in a life jacket regardless. I’d highly recommend life jackets.”


Tom Stachler is a licensed Broker and Builder in the State of Michigan specializing in residential and commercial real estate in the Ann Arbor, Saline and surrounding MI markets.  Check out the new and MLS listings link above or use the helpful recommended Links info for info on other real estate matters.  

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