Aging in Place

Making your Home Safe and Comfortable as you Age

Author: Becky Turgeon

As we age we think about where we are going to live and what that space will look like. We think about whether we will be able to continue to live in our home. Will moving to a condo be a better fit? So, what can you do to make your current home or a new condo home more comfortable as you age? What can you add to make your daily life activities more manageable? What safety features can you introduce? What can you do to make life just a little bit easier and more comfortable and what does your local plumbing, heating and electrical shop have to do with that? 


Let’s look at some of the activities of daily life:

  • Showering
  • Bathing
  • Using the toilet
  • Enjoying Indoor time
  • Enjoying outdoor time

So what can we do to make these areas of your daily life a little bit more comfortable. Let’s tackle the bathroom first.


Showering / Bathing

Have you considered converting your current tub shower to a walk in shower. Walk in showers can feature no step access, non slip flooring, and moulded, folding, or portable seats, as well as multiple spray options. We’ve got some great options from Hytec . The addition of safety grab bars can create an added sense of security. The grab bars are mounted to withstand a proper amount of force and provide much more support than simply bracing yourself against a wall or using one of those suction mounted grab bars.

This walk in shower install replaced a previous tub/shower combination. This particular install used a shower curtain. Glass door options are also available.


And what about faucet handles? There are lots of great options for handles in your shower or on your sink that will make turning them on/off easier. Check out some options from Riobel Pro and Moen

Lever style faucets make turning them on and off a little easier. No more twisting on a tap.


Toileting

Let’s face it, sitting down onto the toilet and getting up from the toilet absolutely gets more difficult as we age. Did you know there are toilets that are specifically designed to make them easier to use. The technical terminology is an ADA Toilet. ADA stands for Americans with Disability Act. ( I know, we’re in Canada but that’s the standard manufacturers typically use. The Accessible Canada Act or ACA, or Bill C-81 is the Canadian equivalent. As a Canadian contractor we follow B651-18 National Standard of Canada Accessible Design for the Buillt Environment.) Regardless of terminology the type of toilet we are talking about here has a minimum seat height of 17 inches (~43 cm) and a maximum of 19 inches (~48 cm). Standard height toilets are typically 14-15 inches in height. Elongated seats vs rounded seats can also be found to be more comfortable. Check out this link to an ADA toilet option from Contrac

Something that is also becoming more common in homes is a toilet with a bidet seat. We offer a number of choices. This link is for our Kohler options.


Enjoying Indoor Time

As we age we may find that we spend a little more time indoors, especially during winter. In order to make your indoor space more comfortable and safer consider some of the following options that we can assist you with.


Lighting

We’re an electrical shop. We can absolutely help you with lighting your home to not only increase comfort but also increase safety. Things to consider for safety might be night lighting, stairway lighting, or outdoor lighting. Things to consider for comfort might be the type of lighting you use. For example you might want to upgrade to LED pot lights, you might want to wire in better bedside lighting for reading, or maybe your garage needs better lighting because you have converted it to a hobby workshop.


Home Automation

Home automation can definitely add a lot of ease to your home as you age. Really we could have a whole blog on all the different types of comforts that home automation can bring to your home. Some options include:


Heating / Cooling

As we age we spend more time in our homes. Let’s make your home air more comfortable. That might include looking at zoning your home. Want your bedroom cooler than or warmer than a secondary bedroom? Tired of cooling your whole home when really what you want is just a cooler kitchen for cooking in the summer and cooler bedrooms for sleeping in? You may want to consider a ductless cooling system. ( Daikin Multi Zone Ductless) Or maybe you want your energy bills to be lower. Ask us about high efficiency furnace and air conditioner options. Want better humidity, cleaner air, and an overall better heating and cooling system? We’re experts at that!

Our lineup of products to perfect your air includes:


Enjoying Outdoor Time

Lighting

Adding walkway lighting and accent lighting to your home can not only make it safer, it can make it more enjoyable. Need some new wiring for your backyard lighting or some new lighting options for walkways, entryways or alley garages, we’ve got a team of professional electricians who can get that done. Town & Country is also an authorized dealer for Gemstone Lights . This permanent, professionally installed lighting system will light up your home in ways you never thought possible. Lights are completely customizable using an app on your phone. You can change the colour and patterns in so many ways that you will always have your home lit up just right no matter the holiday or occasion. Christmas themes, sports themes, or simply elegant architectural themes, your home will be the prettiest on the block and you can change the lighting colour and theme from any where you have cell phone service or a connection to wifi.


Heating

Outdoor heating? Yeah it sounds sort of ridiculous but maybe you have a 3 season sunroom or a screened room or even a sheltered patio or deck that you would like to be able to enjoy for a little longer through the year. As we age we often have more time for things like sitting on our patios enjoying a good book or visiting with family or friends. We have natural gas as well as electrical options for heating these spaces. Check out Schwank . And of course we also have options for your garage, because getting into a cold car just isn’t that much fun in the winter no matter what your age is. We commonly use Reznor or Lennox units for garage heat. Heating your garage can also make it a lot more useful as an all season workshop or hobby area for whatever retirement project you have in mind.

Daikin Inverter Technology

Daikin offers their heating and cooling systems with Inverter Technology? What does that mean? Inverter (variable speed) HVAC systems are an energy saving technology that helps to reduce wasted operation in HVAC systems. Temperature is adjusted by changing the motor speed rather than turning the motor on then turning it off. Your comfort is maintained and your system operates at an energy conserving level. A simple analogy is comparing how your car performs in stop and go traffic versus cruising at highway speed making small adjustments to road conditions. Inverter technology allows your furnace to cruise along efficiently. Temperature is adjusted by changing motor speed and maintaining your comfort while operating at an energy conserving level. Inverter technology not only saves you money on your energy bills but helps prevent temperature swings in your home. You will feel the difference. Daikin inverter systems are also engineered to achieve lower operating sound levels. Finally the increased efficiency of the inverter technology system will reduce wear and tear on your HVAC system and therefore contributes to longevity and durability.

Check out Daikin here!

 Contact Us Today!

 

 

 

Continuous Fan Operation

Definite advantages can be obtained by providing continuous fan operation, particularly with the use of Fresh-Air Ventilation Systems, Energy Efficient Air Cleaners and Power Humidifiers. Today’s new and efficient motors can save you hundreds of dollars while providing better indoor air quality. Keeping your furnace fan running in the summer months can enhance home comfort, by circulating the air in your home. You’ll feel cooler and more comfortable.

Air Conditioner Maintenance

  1. After turning the power off to the unit, rinse outdoor coil annually with a garden hose to remove dust, grass cuttings, etc.
  2. Check unit operation annually. Do not wait until you need cool air! Annual maintenance is recommended.

Notes:

  1. It is recommended that the thermostat be set no lower than 21ºC (70ºF) for cooling. Below this temperature, ice could form on the indoor coil, possibly resulting in damage to the equipment.
  2. If ice forms on the connectors going into the indoor coil or outdoor unit, turn the equipment off and call for service immediately!
  3. In cooling mode, do not lower temperature setting on the thermostat unless the outdoor unit has been off for five minutes. The breaker will probably trip or a fuse may blow if you turn it on too soon.

Eliminating Hot or Cold Spots at Home

The most common solution is to run the furnace fan on a continuous basis. A furnace with a variable ECM motor is the best choice for this.

You can also work on adjusting the registers or diffusers in the home. Start with restricting the flow through the registers in the rooms which are warmer than the others.

Does the Air Conditioner Sit on a Pad or a Bracket?

It really depends on the location of the condenser unit.

It is preferable to mount the unit on brackets attached to the foundation. This will eliminate any strain on the line sets due to movement of the ground around the foundation.  Call us to discuss if this option is right for your installation.

Noise Levels of Our Air Conditioner Units

The outside noise that comes from the condenser is 64 to 74 decibels (dB).

A hair dryer at three meters is 80 dB. The interior noise of the average car at 100km is 70 dB.

Our equipment suppliers offer the quietest air conditioner units available. Call us to discuss different units that are available.

I Have Two Furnaces, Do I Need Two Air Conditioner Units?

Tell us where the comfort issue is and at what time. Is it during dinner? At bedtime? If it is at bedtime and all the bedrooms are upstairs – it really might be possible to provide cooling only to that floor.

Troubleshooting Your Furnace or Air Conditioner

Please check the following before calling us for service. These are problems that homeowners tend to overlook and are not covered by warranty.

Step 1: Is your thermostat set to the correct function?

Step 2: Has the power to the furnace been shut off?

  • Electrical panel breaker
  • Power switch located close to furnace of high in the basement stairwell
  • Ensure the furnace fan door is on properly

Step 3: Is the filter clean? A dirty filter will eventually cause service problems and drastically decrease efficiency of both the furnace and air conditioner.

Step 4: High-efficiency furnaces have a System 636 PVC vent pipe which terminates on the side of home or through the roof. Ensure this is not blocked by debris, snow or ice.

If you cannot locate the problem by following these steps and require service, take note of the furnace model and serial number and call us.

Thermostat Maintenance

Conventional type: This type of thermostat does not require any maintenance.

Note: If the room is dark a small blue flash may be noticed when heating or air conditioning comes on. This is normal.

Programmable / Electronic types: Annual replacement of batteries is necessary for proper operation where applicable.

Notes:

  1. This type of thermostat normally maintains the temperature within half of 1ºC, unlike conventional thermostats, which may vary up to 3ºC. The furnace or air conditioner may cycle more rapidly especially under low load conditions. This is a normal operating condition.
  2. Programmable Thermostats can conserve energy and save you money.
  3. Do not set back your temperature more than 3°C. A temperature difference of more than 3ºC will not provide any savings.