Get Ahead of Home Maintenance Before the Holidays

By Susanne Dwyer

Twenty-four percent of home contractors recently surveyed by American Home Shield (AHS) reported Thanksgiving as the busiest holiday season for repairs and service. Get ahead of home maintenance with these tips from AHS:

  1. Wake your heating system from hibernation.
    No homeowner wants to wake up seeing their own breath because the furnace broke down in the middle of the night. Schedule a furnace check-up now with a heating system professional to ensure everything is running properly and that your system meets the manufacturer’s rated efficiency. One of the biggest causes of wasted energy is restricted air flow to the heating system, so have a contractor check that the filters and coils are allowing for enough air flow. Getting ahead of this issue will help you avoid appointment delays during the busy winter season and give you peace of mind.
  1. Give your gutters a fresh start.
    Leaves, twigs and other debris can easily clog gutters, which can lead to ice dams. Ice dams cause melting water to back up and flow into the house, resulting in a very expensive repair. Save yourself the money and trouble by thoroughly cleaning out your gutters after the leaves have fallen. Make sure to tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets, and replace any worn sections before it’s too late. Check that downspouts extend at least five feet away from the foundation. If they don’t, buy an inexpensive extension.
  1. Mind the gaps.
    Walk around the inside and outside of your home and check it for air tightness, carefully looking for any signs of cracks where air could leak out, as this can be a significant source of energy loss. An inexpensive tube of caulk can help seal the leaks and also help prevent moisture from getting inside the walls of your home. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring comes through walls or floors.
  1. Get smart—a smart thermostat, that is.
    The Wi-Fi rage is real, especially when it comes to your thermostat. If you still have a manual thermostat or even a programmable one, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. Today’s models can learn your living patterns, heat only rooms that are occupied, turn up the heat as you near your home, allow you to make adjustments remotely from your phone, and much more. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10 percent a year in energy usage (and on your utility bills) by making smart adjustments to your thermostat.
  1. Double-check doors
    Inspect all doors that open to the outside or to the attic and be sure that they close tightly. An easy way to check for air leaks: place a piece of tissue in a clothespin, hold it at various points along the doorway and watch for any movement near the edge of the door and the frame. If you have a leak, take a photo of your door and door jamb, and ask an employee at your local hardware store for help finding the right weatherstripping or door sweeps. Air leaks cause your heating system to work harder, which costs you more money on your utility bills—and can shorten the lifespan of your system.

For more information, please visit www.ahs.com/home-matters.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
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Autumn Additions

By Susanne Dwyer

(Family Features)—Fall provides a time for fun and celebration, but it also can be an opportunity to refocus on taking care of your home both indoors and out.

These simple upgrade ideas can help you improve aesthetic appeal, upgrade safety, keep your home free from pests and save you time, resources and money.

Find more ideas for upgrading and updating your home at eLivingToday.com.

De-Bug Your Doors
Enjoy nature without all the pests by adding a protective barrier to your entryways, such as an ODL Brisa Retractable Screen Door. It can be installed over single, double and sliding doors, and can take just 30 minutes to install from start to finish. With one-touch entry and auto-slide open, it allows for easy access when your hands are full. When you’re not using it, you can use the secure locking latch or let it slide back into its cartridge.

Elegant Entry
With a low-profile cylinder, Baldwin’s Spyglass Entrance Set with Spyglass Levers offers an elegant, architecturally inspired design. With SmartKey re-key technology, the set is the ultimate in convenience and safety as it allows you to re-key your lock in seconds and has American National Standards Institute and Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association Grade 2 security features. Belonging to the premium Prestige Series, the Spyglass Entrance Set delivers effortless, accessible style and affordable luxury.

Get Smart About Laundry
Take a load off and let your washer’s technology do the work. Available in white or diamond gray, the top load laundry line from GE Appliances gives owners the power to pretreat stains or hand-wash delicates with an industry-first soapy water station, automatically dispense the right amount of detergent and fabric softener based on each individual load and control the load remotely through smart devices by using WiFi Connect.

Feel the Heat
If temperatures are dropping and a warm blanket isn’t doing the trick on an especially chilly day, a space heater can help keep you cozy. Many options are light and portable, allowing you to move it from room to room as necessary. Rather than layering up to enjoy a lazy day on the couch, simply plug it in and choose the setting that’s right for maximum comfortability. Plus, by flipping the space heater switch rather than cranking up the heat, you can save money on energy bills.

Simple Shredding
One of fall’s obnoxious chores in the eyes of many is cleaning up leaves scattered about the yard. To help save time and energy, add a leaf shredder to your arsenal of lawn equipment. By shredding leaves rather than expending time and resources bagging and disposing them, you can improve the look of your yard without as much physical stress.

Mess-Free Mudroom
On cold days when a brisk chill sends you seeking indoor shelter, it can be easy to make a mess at the door with shoes and outerwear. Instead of a pile of garments greeting you each time you come home, add some structure to the mudroom with an organizer that allows you to hang coats and scarves and stow away shoes. While keeping clothes orderly, it can also help keep you and guests from tracking salt, mud and other messes throughout the house.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Give Your Home a Facelift: Home Improvement Projects for Less Than $500

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Home improvement doesn’t have to break the bank. You can freshen up the spaces in your home or investment property with a number of small projects that cost less than $500, and make you feel like you spent a lot more! Here are some basic ideas.

Paint Power
Painting is one of the cheapest and easiest home improvements to make. A fresh coat of paint will make any room look as good as new, which is sure to add value. Choose colors that are popular to give a more modern, up-to-date look, or stick to the neutral classic colors. At around $25 a gallon, paint is an inexpensive way to improve your home’s desirability and is something that just about any homeowner can tackle on their own. While you’re at it, look up—do you have that outdated popcorn ceiling? Scrape that texture away to get rid of the dated looking ceilings.

Borrow Ideas
Instead of hiring a designer who will inevitably give you a lot of expensive ideas, such as tearing down walls or pulling up perfectly good flooring, just copy what others have done. You can find all sorts of ideas in books and magazines and on interior decorating TV shows, Pinterest and other websites. To keep to a tight budget, pick projects that can be completed yourself.

Get an Energy Audit
Take advantage of your utility company’s free energy audits to determine which improvements could save you hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in utility costs each year. Most local utility companies will come and inspect your house for free, and the improvements are generally going to have some sort of tax rebate. Having an energy-efficient home is a salable improvement, or, if you plan on staying in the home for the long haul, you can put the money saved toward a different home improvement.

Plant a Tree
Landscaping will improve the curb appeal of your home greatly. Trees provide shade to keep the harmful rays of the sun from bleaching out your paint or heating up the inside of the house. Mature landscaping is a huge plus when trying to sell a home and is frequently sought after. When choosing which species or varieties to plant, it is important to take into consideration the water and maintenance requirements of the plants. Purchasing drought-tolerant plants that are slow or moderate growers will save you hours of yard work and money in the long run. Keeping the yard well maintained will help keep the property looking nice and tidy without investing a huge amount of money.

Keep It Clean
Keeping a home clean and clutter-free will leave a good impression. Get rid of the things you don’t need and “travel light.” You’ll be happy if you ever decide to sell the home that you don’t have a bunch of extraneous stuff to haul around with you or decide what to do with when you are in the middle of moving. If you are selling, it’s often difficult to make the house sparkle from top to bottom, so hire a cleaning service to really give the home a thorough cleaning. It’s worth the money.

Fake the Footage
Houses are often analyzed by price per square foot to help determine if it’s a good deal or not, but the feel and layout of the home can make the house appear bigger than it really is. Keeping the rooms light and airy by choosing light paint, furniture and window coverings can create a feeling of extra space. Adding a large mirror can double the room’s size just by creating that mirror image. An uncluttered home will make the space look bigger and more open. Have a big garage sale to get rid of the unnecessary clutter and put that money towards other home improvements.

New Fixtures
Nothing dates a home like old fixtures. Replacing old lights, faucets, door handles, etc. with updated fixtures really can change the look and feel of a home. The cost of fixtures do add up quickly, so shop around and start with rooms that receive the most traffic, such as bathrooms, the family room and kitchen. Updating these core rooms in the home can give you the biggest impact for the money.

These small improvements can make your home more pleasant for everyday living and give you a feeling of confidence when sharing your space with guests. In addition, if you are planning to sell your home, putting the time and money into small improvements can increase the value and pay off big in the end—quite a bit more than $500!

Kaycee Wegener manages marketing and media relations for Rentec Direct and shares industry news, products and trends within the community.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

How to Make Buying a Beach House an Affordable Thing to Do

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The dream of purchasing a beach house is potentially one that you’ve had since you were a teenager or young adult; however, setting aside the money for this venture is an entirely different project. Instead of continuing to watch your dream shrink, consider some strategies for making a beach house a reality.

Look for Less Desirable Locations
In your view, any house on the beach is likely in a desirable location, but that really depends upon what the buyer is looking for. One thing that you should consider is how the school district can have a significant effect on the price of a house. If you are looking for a summer home or you may not have children, the quality of the school district may not affect you at all. As a result, you can buy in a community that has a school district of a lower quality, which will likely mean a lower price.

Research Seasonal Communities
When you’re looking to purchase a house, you might think you need to buy a place that is yours to visit throughout the year; however, that isn’t necessarily the case. You may be able to find a home in a community that is only open to residents for a set number of months per year. During the colder seasons, it may close down. Due to the fact that you’re unable to inhabit the house year-round, you may have a greater chance of procuring a lower price.

Rent the House
A beach house is a desirable location for many people, which provides you with the opportunity to rent it to them. You could rent your house out on AirBnB, for example. Some people decide to rent their houses out for the majority of the year and spend a short amount of vacation time there themselves, and others choose to just rent the house during peak seasons. You can decide what works for you.

Buy a Smaller House
In most cases, people looking to buy beach houses are not planning to live there during the entire year. As a result, you probably don’t need a prodigious beach house. Even when you want to make the beach house your full-time residence, ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice to get a house on the beach. When you don’t intend to have children, one or two bedrooms in a house might be just right.

Thinking about buying a beach house might feel overwhelming to you because of the perceived costs; however, you can actually make this wish a reality.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: How Can Homeowners Ensure Preparedness?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Buddy Stark, director of Operations for HomeTeam Inspection Service.

Q: What can homeowners do to ensure their home is well prepared and more energy-efficient throughout the coming months?

A: Fall officially begins this month and HomeTeam Inspection Service—the only national home inspection company to utilize a team of inspectors onsite—offers the following home maintenance tips.

Roof
Inspect the roof covering and flashing from the ground for indicators of wear, like missing, loose or cracked shingles or tiles. Water can seep into these areas and cause damage if left unattended. Contact a professional roofer for repair or a replacement evaluation if water intrusion is occurring or suspected.

Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are critical in protecting your home from water damage. Fall is one of the most important times to check your gutters and downspouts to ensure they’re not rusted, rotted, disconnected or full of debris.

Fireplace
Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean your chimney, fireplace and vents at least once per year, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. A do-it-yourself inspection for creosote buildup can be performed by wearing goggles and a basic disposable dust mask. Take a flashlight and your fireplace poker and scratch the black surface above the damper (smoke chamber). If the groove you scratch is paper thin, no cleaning is needed. If it’s 1/8 inch thick, schedule a cleaning. If you have 1/4 inch of creosote, don’t use the fireplace until it’s cleaned—a chimney fire could occur at any time.

HVAC
Get your furnace cleaned and serviced by a professional before the heating season begins. Also, clean or replace your furnace filters as recommended throughout the year. Dirty filters restrict airflow and reduce efficiency.

Ensure that all supply and return vents aren’t blocked or closed, as this causes the return duct to pull in cold air from cracks in windows and doors. In addition, the warm air that’s still trying to push up through closed vents will either start to leak out ducts that aren’t sealed properly, or be forced back down into your basement or floor cavities.

Trees and Bushes
Trimming trees and bushes provides many advantages to your home’s exterior. Trim so that all leaves and limbs are at least three feet away from your house. This prevents them from hitting the sides of your house when it’s windy, decreasing the amount of leaves and debris that will end up in your gutters.

Windows and Doors
Cracks in the seals around windows and doors allow heated or cooled air to escape, which can cost you money. Caulking and weatherstripping can wear over time, so check the seals around your windows and doors. One of the easiest ways to diagnose this issue is to close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. If the flame flickers at any spot, you likely have an air leak. Replace or add caulk or weatherstripping where needed.

For more information, please visit www.hometeam.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Odd Things to Run in the Dishwasher

By Susanne Dwyer

Move over, dinner plates! The dishwasher can actually be used to wash a myriad of strange items. Below is a good rundown. A quick bit of common sense: if suds-ing up something super greasy or grimy (like an old hubcap), don’t mix your eatery into the same load.

Rubber Boots and Flip Flops – Want to wash your favorite rubber footwear? Pop them in the dishwasher upside down.

Kitchen Sponges – Toss them into the silverware tray for a speedy sanitize!

House Keys – Ever wonder how filthy your house keys get over the years? So long as none of your keys have electric starters, pop the whole ring into the silverware tray.

Grill Rack – Is your grill rack covered in grease? Place it on the top tray and set the heat to high to get it gleaming again.

Hubcaps – Crazy, but true! Just add a cup of white vinegar to your detergent and hit start.

Nail Clippers – Pop these in the silverware tray and they’re good as new.

Tools – Get your favorite tools gleaming with a quick cycle in the washer.

Contact Lens Cases – The dishwasher is a great place to sanitize these every couple weeks or so.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

4 Real Estate Deal-Breakers and How to Fix Them Efficiently

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The real estate sales process can be stressful and seemingly complicated. Even a relatively smooth process can take ample negotiations and may require weeks to pass before you can close on the transaction. Some deals are increasingly complicated, and major roadblocks may develop that threaten the entire project. These are a few of the more significant factors that buyers and sellers may run into during the real estate sales process that could potentially prevent the deal from going through as planned.

Unpleasant Decor
Unpleasant decor is something that buyers notice immediately, and some will only make an offer on the home contingent to some decorative updates being completed before closing. For example, some buyers may detest bold paint colors on the walls or may feel that the decor in the kitchens and bathrooms is too outdated; however, sellers may believe that the home is priced appropriately for the as-is condition and that they should not make concessions because of decor. Both real estate agents need to review sales comps in the area to determine if other homes selling in this price range have similar decor or if they have recently been upgraded. The agents should make the buyer and seller aware of realistic expectations based on market conditions, and one or both parties may need to make concessions based on a sales price and property condition that is justified by the market.

Major Repair Issues
Home repair issues may be known by both parties before a property inspection is complete, but the inspection report can potentially reveal more issues that have not been discussed. Many buyers may try to negotiate to have repair work completed before closing. You may consider taking a course on renovations (like Rules of Renovation) and other significant home improvement projects before you agree to take on any huge projects as a buyer or a seller. These courses can help you to better estimate the cost and time it will take to complete the work that is needed.

A Low Appraised Value
Many buyers will apply for a home loan to pay for their purchase. Mortgage lenders typically offer a loan amount that is a percentage of the sales price or appraised value, and they will take the lesser of these two figures into consideration. This means that an appraised value that comes in lower than the sales price could reduce the loan amount to an uncomfortable amount for the buyer. More than that, the buyer may not want to pay more money for a house than it is worth. The feasible options are for the seller to lower the sales price or to work with the appraiser to increase the appraised value.

Title Issues
It is customary to review the title history on a property before finalizing a purchase, and this is a required step for anyone who is applying for a mortgage loan. This process essentially determines if the seller clearly holds title to the property or what obstacles need to be cleared before the seller can convey title to the buyer at closing. Some issues are minor and can easily be dealt with prior to closing by the title company and the seller. In some cases, however, a real estate lawyer needs to be contacted to resolve the matter.

Many real estate deals will close without a hitch, but many others will develop one or several of these issues. Many issues can be overcome when the buyer and seller work together and when enough time and patience is given to resolve the issues. You may also have to use third-party services, such as a title company or real estate lawyer, to address the issue properly.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Live in a Loud Area? Here’s How to Reduce Sound Inside Your Home

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Have you ever wished you lived on a remote island somewhere? A tranquil, calm and—most importantly—quiet place just for yourself? If so, you’re certainly not alone.

Depending on where you live, whether in an urban city or in the suburbs, overpopulation remains an issue, and dealing with noise pollution has become a real responsibility.

Whether sound comes from loud neighbors, lumber trucks, domestic animals or construction workers, we live in a noisy world which can affect us where we need it least—in our homes. These days, we barely even notice the sounds of everyday occurrences such as lawnmowers and nearby roads, but if you think back to pre-industrial times, this amount of external stimulation would have made our distant ancestors nervous wrecks.

Take a moment to consider what you deal with every day regarding external noise. Perhaps it might be time to take action through these easy steps to protect you and your loved ones from unnecessary stress, or even poor sleep.

Close Up Your Gaps
The old advice rings just as true today as it did when you first heard it: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Ensuring as tight an envelope as possible is imperative to reducing the external noise in your neighborhood from invading your privacy and comfort, and this means closing all possible gaps.

Starting with the obviously visible holes and cracks, grab some flexible polyurethane or latex caulk to make your walls and window gaps airtight. Even the slightest of open areas around windows will allow sound to infiltrate. Be as thorough as possible in closing them all up. Perhaps you have an issue with exposure around the openings for pipes and wires where they enter the house—if so, use expanding foam or putty to tighten up your house.

Invest in High-Quality Windows
High-quality windows are one of the most important elements for a soundproof home. Opting for models with seriously thick glass will be your saving grace, and that’s why many noise-conscious individuals choose storm windows with sturdy frames and decent weather stripping.

Some things to watch out for: the larger the airspace between your original window and the storm window, the better (i.e., three to four inches). DIY-ers with double-hung and gliding windows tend to gravitate toward storm windows, as they allow the easiest installation; however, there are various options to make window installation an easier job, regardless of the category of your existing windows.

Shape Up Your Insulation
Not only for the sake of your heating and electricity bills, good quality insulation in your home will significantly reduce the internal disturbance from external noise pollution. Attics and walls are usually most vulnerable to noise infiltration due to under-insulation—start there first! Once again, quality, as opposed to speed, is of the essence with this procedure, as only meticulously installed fiberglass batt and blown-in insulation will ensure your sound pollution from the environment remains low.

Of course, installing insulation can still be a bit of a procedure, but there are plenty of guides online to help you perform a world-class job at a fraction of the price.

Homeowners with DIY abilities often choose to install insulation between floor joists, and as long as you pay particular attention to safety such as dust masks, safety goggles, gloves and protective clothing, you should be good to go.

Consider Your Own Noise Contribution
In the process of fixing up your house to protect it from future external sound infiltration, you will require the use of power tools. Spare a thought for your neighbors and choose your weapons wisely. We sometimes can be so accustomed to tolerating a noisy environment ourselves that we become oblivious to our own contribution to noise pollution.

The additions to your home can be a labor-intensive process, and power tools will certainly make your renovations much faster and easier. Chris Knuffman, reciprocating business line manager at Quincy Compressor, explains how you can be efficient while keeping home improvement noise to a minimum.

“Pneumatic tools powered by compressed air help complete tough and noisy jobs faster and more efficiently than manual options,” explains Knuffman. “Robust air compressors properly sized for such tools offer quicker recovery and are quieter work site solutions, delivering lower decibels and less fatigue than misapplied models.”

External noise has more of an effect on your quality of life than you think, and taking these simple steps will surely make a considerable difference to your comfort and sense of security in your own home. As the jobs are relatively easy within the world of active DIY-ers, the trick is ensuring you are as meticulous as possible with each alteration, as sound certainly does travel.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Reasons Why Your HVAC Systems Aren’t Working Right

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The wind is howling outside, and you’re curled up under four blankets. “It’s freezing in here!” you mutter as you push the up button on the thermostat yet again.

At times like this, you know your HVAC system isn’t working right, but you have no idea why. Here’s a little insight into what might be going on, and when it’s time to call an HVAC technician in for a little help.

Clogged Filters
If it seems like you’re turning the heat up, up, up or the air conditioning down, down, down but nothing seems to be happening, a clogged filter could be your culprit. Lack of proper air flow caused by clogged filters is the No. 1 cause of inefficient HVAC systems.

To keep clogged filters from becoming an issue, check your filter once a month and plan on replacing it once every 90 days. If you have pets in your home, you may need to replace the filter a little more often.

Worn Parts
Just like everything else, the parts of your heating system can wear out. Things like belts and motors can become worn and cause your system to work poorly. This problem can be hard to diagnose without a qualified HVAC tech to come in and check things out.

If your system seems like it’s just not working the way it used to, it’s probably time to call in the pros. The upfront cost might seem a little high, but if your system continues to work highly efficiently to heat and cool your home, you’ll save money in the long run.

Leaks in the System
Leaks in your HVAC system can be easy to diagnose but a little harder to fix. Still, it’s great information to give your tech before he gets started.

To diagnose a leak in the system, start with the obvious. Look for liquid coming from anywhere other than the condenser pipe (that’s the part where the water normally leaks from).

Check your filter for ice. Leaking refrigerant will cause your filter to freeze the moisture it catches, turning the filter into a popsicle.

If a pipe is leaking at a junction, a seal could be dry-rotted or corroded. Be sure to pass on the information to your HVAC technician before he or she comes out so he or she can be better prepared to help you.

Electrical Issues
Even if you have a gas or oil-powered HVAC unit, it still has electrical components. If these components are not working correctly, they can cause your system to waste fuel, not work correctly, or not work at all.

The biggest problem seen on the electrical side is with the ignition system. If your unit clicks a lot before it ignites or continues to click without igniting, this is a problem with the electrical igniter.

Age of the Unit
Even with regular maintenance and care, older units are going to start to fail. According to ENERGY STAR, replacing a unit that is 10-15 years old can save you up to 20 percent on your heating and air conditioning costs.

If you are unsure how old your unit is, you can use the serial number to figure out when your unit was made.

Leaks, clogged filters, and the age of your unit can all cause problems with your HVAC unit. Having a qualified technician come out and repair or replace your unit will save you money on your fuel bills and reduce your impact on the environment.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Energy-Efficient Home Hacks to Complete Before End of Summer

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Soaring temperatures comes with sky-high energy bills. If you’re looking to improve your home’s energy efficiency as your HVAC kicks into overdrive, consider adding these energy-efficient home hacks to your weekend warrior to-do list.

Increase Insulation
Air leakages can occur anywhere in your home, resulting in your AC unit having to work that much harder to keep your home comfortable. Adding a new layer of insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more energy-efficient. Best of all, you can do this easy hack yourself! Before laying any new insulation, be sure to plug up any large openings and seal off small cracks, especially around attic hatches, window frames, and electrical outlets.

Smart Home Automation
It seems like almost every electronic device now has a smart alternative on the market. Though it’s easy to write off this technology as a luxury, most of these devices can actually go a long way in helping to reduce your energy usage each month. Whether it’s a thermostat that learns your family’s habits or a dishwasher that only runs during off-peak energy hours, smart home appliances and devices can go a long way in helping curb your family’s energy demands.

Close Your Blinds
Sometimes the best hacks are also the easiest—and cheapest! By simply closing your blinds, especially for south- and west-facing windows, you have the potential to save upwards of 7 percent off your energy bill, as well as lowering the ambient temperature by up to 20 degrees. Considering that almost 30 percent of unwanted humid summer heat comes in from your windows, it makes sense to drop the shades on the afternoon sun. Better yet, if it’s in your budget, replace those worn-out windows altogether. ENERGY STAR has found that most homeowners can expect to see an average 12 percent drop in their home’s energy consumption after replacing single-pane windows with ENERGY STAR-qualified alternatives.

Landscape to Lower Energy
Think of landscaping as your exterior blinds, and plant a few trees along the south side of your home to help block direct sunlight from ever making it to your windows. Ensure that any tree you plant is a leafy variety, rather than an evergreen, so that you can get exceptional shade in the summer and plenty of warming sun in the leafless winter months. Similarly, plant evergreen shrubs around your home’s foundation to add year-round insulation.

Cooking Counts
Summer is virtually synonymous with grilling, but did you ever consider just how much energy you can save by sparking up some charcoal instead of your oven? Not only will you be sparing yourself any operating costs, but you’ll also prevent your HVAC from having to combat the added heat your culinary masterpiece is likely to create.

The best way to make your home as energy-efficient as possible is to have a professional perform an energy audit. The typical audit usually only takes a couple hours of your time, but it has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in reduced energy expenses year-round. With a little planning ahead and a few upgrades, you’ll be saving energy daily!

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The post Energy-Efficient Home Hacks to Complete Before End of Summer appeared first on RISMedia.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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Nancy Wey
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