HOWEVER MUCH you love your house, there is probably something about it that drives you crazy -- a room that's always cold, a door that opens the wrong way, a faucet that will not stop dripping.
Honeywell, which makes control devices such as thermostats for home and office use, did a survey to find out what people like least about their abodes. (The telephone survey, taken in August, covered 1,000 homeowners, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.) Here are the top 10 "pet peeves":
1. Inconsistent temperature (between rooms, levels or different times of day)
2. Dust, pet hair, allergens
3. High utility bills
4. Dry air in the house
5. Window condensation
7. Outdated kitchen
8. House not secure from break-ins
9. (tie) Stuffy rooms/inefficient floor plan
10. Damp basement
Most homeowners, the survey reports, like their houses; it's the little things that bother them.
There are solutions, some of them quite simple and inexpensive, to all of the peeves above: residential zoning systems to even out temperatures; programmable thermostats to save energy; and relatively inexpensive alarm systems. Not surprisingly, Honeywell makes all these products. For information, visit the Honeywell Web site at www.honeywell.com/yourhome, or call 800-328-5111.
If your primary concern is saving energy and reducing utility bills, the Alliance to Save Energy, a coalition of industry, government, environmental and consumer groups, has some suggestions for increasing your home's "physical fitness."
Change or clean your furnace filter regularly, and have the furnace checked by a professional before the heating season begins.
A new program called EnergyStar labels the most energy-efficient devices and appliances. Replacing older equipment with more efficient units can cut utility bills as much as 30 percent, the alliance says.
Use a programmable thermostat to make sure your bedroom is toasty when you wake up, and to turn the heat down when you don't need it.
Insulate, insulate, insulate, and seal, seal, seal. The result can be major savings.
For more information, visit www.energystar.gov or www.ase.org/consumer. Or call 888-878-3256 for a booklet called "Power$mart: Easy Tips to Save Money and the Planet."
Ron Nodine is owner of American Renovator Inc., a Baltimore design-build remodeling firm, and former president of the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Karol Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun.
If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, e-mail Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or write c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.