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7 Things to Buy If You Want to Spend Less on Plumbing & Heating

August 7, 2017

Let’s face it: Owning a home isn’t cheap. You’re on the hook for mortgage payments and property taxes, of course, as well as maintenance and repair expenses. Under typical circumstances, cost-cutting options are frustratingly few, but there’s one crucial exception—utilities. You don’t pay a fixed price for things like electricity, water, and natural gas. Rather, from one month to the next, the size of your bill depends on the extent of your usage. That means it’s at least possible to reduce ongoing operating costs. For many families, however, it’s just not practical to cut back significantly on these key essentials of daily living. With smart upgrades to hardworking household fixtures and appliances, boosting efficiency and reducing waste can be easier than you think.

  1. Low-Flow Shower Head

    Aerating water saving shower heads

    There’s more than one way to save on your water bill. For instance, you can always bathe less often or take shorter showers. But in practice, many homeowners who try to conserve water ultimately fail to do so. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that installing a low-flow shower head saves the average family up to 2,900 gallons per year. Plus, because the water heater won’t have to work as hard, you’ll save not only water, but energy as well. For maximum savings, O’Brian specifies, “be sure to choose a shower head with a flow rate of no more than two gallons per minute.”

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  2. Wi-Fi Thermostat

    Wifi thermostats

    Your father was right to guard the thermostat like a watchdog. In the average home, more than half of all energy dollars go toward cooling and heating, so it pays to moderate indoor temperatures whenever possible. That said, it’s a real pain to adjust the thermostat over and over, day after day. True, a programmable thermostat helps solve the problem by automatically adjusting the temperature settings on a preset schedule. Enter the Wi-Fi thermostat. By enabling you to adjust the temperature setting of your thermostat from anywhere—via your computer, tablet, or smartphone—a Wi-Fi thermostat gives you the power to capitalize on every opportunity for trimming HVAC costs, no matter where you happen to be.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  3. Tankless Water Heater

    Tankless water heater types

    It takes no small amount of energy (and more than a few energy dollars) for standard, storage-tank water heaters to keep a large volume of water always at the ready. That’s right: Even in the middle of the night, when there’s little chance that anyone wants to take a long, hot shower, traditional units chug along at full tilt. Fortunately, homeowners today enjoy an alternative—tankless water heaters. Because they operate on demand, only when a point-of-use fixture or appliance calls for hot water, tankless units slash energy consumption by a quarter or more, saving the average family approximately $1,700 over the lifetime of the water heater.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  4. HVAC Filter

    Hvac filter types

    The air filter in your HVAC system performs two pivotal roles simultaneously. For one, it defends the air you breathe from the harmful effects of dust, pollen, and other impurities. As well, it protects the HVAC system itself, helping to ensure its continued performance and longevity. Here’s the catch: As the filter removes more particles from the air, it gradually becomes clogged. At that point, if you don’t replace the filter (or at the very least clean it), you can say goodbye to energy efficiency.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  5. Hot Water Recirculation System

    Hot water recirculation system

    When you turn on the shower or sink faucet, does it take a while for the hot water to arrive? If so, you’re definitely not alone. The Department of Energy estimates that simply in waiting for the water to get hot, the average household wastes as much as 12,000 gallons per year. The issue is that as hot water flows through plumbing, it gradually cools down, and that cool water must come out first. To speed things up—for convenience as much as for savings—many homeowners opt to install a hot-water recirculation system. Recirculation sends cooled water back to the water heater to be reheated and reused, while the system pump compresses the travel time from the water heater to the fixture. No, it’s not a glamorous home upgrade, but it’s certainly an effective one.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  6. Outdoor Reset Boiler Control

    Outdoor boiler reset types

    If your home heating system depends on a boiler—if it’s a radiator, radiant floor, or hydronic baseboard system—listen up: You can increase energy efficiency by 15 percent with a simple accessory called an outdoor reset control. Affordable and easy to install, this add-on works by monitoring the outdoor temperature, calculating the indoor heating demand, and modulating boiler performance accordingly. That way, the boiler never runs longer or harder than necessary. There are a number of outdoor reset controls on the market, with varying features, but no matter which model you choose, the installation benefits are clear and compelling.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

  7. Faucet Aerator

    Faucet aerator types

    Nowadays, faucets usually come with built-in aerators—disc-like doodads that limit the flow rate and inject air into the water as it leaves the pipe. That said, if you live in an older home with correspondingly old kitchen and bath fixtures, retrofitting each faucet with an aerator may be the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to put a dent in your water bill. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, homes with faucet aerators save an average of 700 gallons of water per year, for a savings of about $50 each month. Bear in mind that actual savings depend on a range of factors, including the gallons-per-minute flow rate of your chosen aerator. It’s worth taking the time to choose wisely.

    Photo: supplyhouse.com

    Serving all your plumbing & heating needs. Contact us today!
    Jim Lavallee Plumbing
    Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
    Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122

Finding The Right Shower Style For Your Bathroom

May 19, 2017

A luxurious bathroom can be large or small, believe it or not. It often depends on the features you have included. Showers are one of the largest features that can either become a place you can’t wait to relax or turn your bathroom into a space you hate.

While there are some simple fixes you can do to improve your shower, it might not always be what’s needed. A new shower can be just what’s needed to make the most of the space in your bathroom. If you’re considering a bathroom remodel, this is not a feature you want to overlook. From a walk-in shower to a bathtub shower combo, it’s time to find the right style for your bathroom.

Shower Installation Costs

Shower Installation Costs

If you’re remodeling the entire bathroom or just changing your current space with a new shower, it’s important to budget appropriately. After all, a new shower is a large investment to be adding to your home. The average cost to install a shower is $2,997, with most homeowners spending between $1,420 and $3,411. However, there are many factors that impact those costs. Will you be replacing any of the current fixtures or moving any piping? A tile shower may cost more depending on the materials you choose. These factors and more will impact the final cost of your shower.

Walk In Shower

Walk-In Shower Ideas

If you’re updating to save space or want a trendy new addition to your bathroom, a walk-in shower can be the perfect choice. For small bathrooms, it’s a great way to save space if you don’t need a bathtub. They also can be extremely versatile in how you want to remodel them. Often, walk-in showers are accompanied by a glass door rather than a shower curtain, but there are plenty of unique options to fit your style.

Walk-In Showers Without Doors

While many walk-in showers have doors, many homeowners are opting for a divider wall instead. This wall can be a partial or full barrier to reduce any water from leaving the shower area. While some are straight, others have an artistic curve to give the space a unique flair.

Walk-In Showers With Seat

Unlike other shower styles, walk-ins provide an opportunity for a shower seat or bench to be included. This is a great option for those with accessibility needs or simply if you want a place to rest in your shower.

Bathtub Shower Combo

Bathtub Shower Combo

While walk-ins can provide the size shower you may need for a small bathroom, you’d miss out on a bathtub that can be extremely useful. Bathtub shower combos are among the most popular for homeowners, especially those with younger children. With this, you truly get the best of both worlds.

Bathtub shower combos are typically against a wall and come in various sizes, so it’s easy to find one to fit your bathroom and add a bit of luxury.

Freestanding Tub & Shower Combo

When you think of elegance in the bathroom, what do you envision? Many of us picture a classic claw foot tub in the room. Freestanding or claw foot tubs are a great way to give any bathroom a vintage feel, but it can be tricky if a shower is a necessity. Some opt to have a handheld shower head to use without mounting it. However, most homeowners choose to mount it above the tub and enclose it with shower curtains, keeping the vintage look.

Corner Shower

Corner Shower

If you’re biggest concern is saving space in your bathroom, a corner shower might be the answer. Often, bathroom corners go unused, so this is a way to make the most of your useable space. This small, walk-in style shower can fit in any sized bathroom with an available corner. Often, they are smaller than other styles, but are unique. Depending on the size, you may opt for a small door or simply to close it off with a shower curtain.

Accessible Shower

Accessible Shower

In this day and age, having a versatile home is key to both longevity in your home and an ROI when it comes time to sell. One feature homeowners are looking for is an accessible shower. While bathtub shower combos are nice, they often lack the accessibility. Even the smallest edge on a shower tray for a walk-in shower can be an issue for families with accessibility needs. Barrier-free showers are the safe bathroom solution. Barrier-free showers come in many sizes to fit any kind of bathroom

It’s a good idea to also consider grab bars and seating that can be utilized. Grab bars and benches can be an easy DIY project to complete on your own, adding additional accessibility benefits.


During a bathroom remodel, you’ll have many choices to make. Your shower should be of the highest considerations considering the investment you’ll be making. Think about the needs of your family and the size of your space to determine what shower style is best for you.

Ready to remodel your bathroom?  Contact us today!

Jim Lavallee Plumbing
Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122

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The Easiest Way to Clean Shower Doors

June 6, 2016

How to clean a shower door

It’s always a challenge to clean shower doors, but that doesn’t mean you have to use powerful cleansers made with ammonia, bleach, and other harsh chemicals. Without much trouble, you can effectively clean shower doors in ways that are much safer for your family.

Clean Shower Doors - Baking Soda Paste

Photo: thekitchn.com

Jill Schoff, author of Green Up Your Cleanup, recommends using a mixture of baking soda and water. Combine the two in a wide-mouth container, using just enough water to form a thick paste. Rub the paste on shower doors with either your hand or a non-abrasive sponge, then rinse with vinegar. “The paste works amazingly well—better than any commercial cleaner I’ve ever used,” says Schoff.


If your shower doors slide, don’t forget to clean the metal tracks that the doors run along. According to Schoff, this part of the process couldn’t be simpler, just “plug the drain holes with a bit of paper towel, fill the track with vinegar, and let sit overnight.”

Clean Shower Doors - Squeegee

Photo: askville.amazon.com

Prevent soap scum and mold buildup by using a squeegee, sponge, or absorbent towel on the doors and walls of the enclosure after every shower. Doing so helps remove residue before it hardens, while also eliminating the moisture that mold and mildew need in order to thrive. “If you use a sponge or towel, be sure to wring it well and allow it to dry completely between uses,” says Schoff, who adds, “Launder the towel or throw the sponge in the dishwasher to disinfect.”

If you can get your family to adopt this regime, it won’t be necessary to clean shower doors often, only to shine things up occasionally by spraying with a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water.

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