Category: Home Tips

Six Winter Home Energy Conservation and Insulation Tips

Comfort Control of Virginia, Inc.

#1 Clean or replace your furnace filters

According to a recent article on winterization tips, you should clean and replace your furnace filters on a monthly basis. Dirty furnace filters prevent warm air from flowing through the ducts and vents into your house, which makes your furnace work harder and increases your utility bill. By cleaning and replacing your furnace filters on a monthly basis, you will save a little money on your bill and a lot of money in simply preventing the need for a furnace replacement.

You can also replace your temporary filters with a permanent filter. Electrostatic or HEPA filters trap around 90 to 100 percent of debris — and they control bacteria, mold and pollen from getting into the air where they may cause illness or irritation. While these filters can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000, they’re a worthwhile investment that offers long-term benefits.

#2 Get your furnace serviced

You should have your furnace maintained and repaired as needed. Having your furnace serviced annually can cut its fuel usage by almost 10 percent, which can save you more money on your heating bill. If you didn’t have your furnace maintained by a heating professional in the early autumn, call one now to inspect your furnace and filters for any issues. A professional will also look at your radiators and elements for any dust, breaks and other problems and fix them as necessary. Having this done could save you from spending $3,300 to $4,600 on a new furnace or finding yourself in a freezing cold home in the dead of winter.

#3 Fix drafts and leaks

Leaks and drafts in windows and doors significantly compromise the insulation and energy efficiency of your home. Escaping air forces your furnace to work overtime to keep your home warm, which causes it to turn on every five to ten minutes. To solve this problem, a professional can caulk and install weather-stripping around your windows and doors for around $460. You should also identify and seal leaks around your chimney and any pipes leading into or out of your home.

#4 Lay down additional insulation

Tomahawk Pest Services, LLC

Your attic’s insulation should be between six and 13 inches of loose fill or seven and 19 inches of fiberglass. Measure how much insulation you have; if it’s below the minimum for the material used, add more to keep your home well-insulated and keep your utility bills down. It’s easier to go with loose fill insulation, as it’s made of a flexible material that can fill crevices and joists. You can rent a blower to lay down loose fill insulation, but it’s complicated, and you run the risk of stepping through your attic. It’s probably easier to have an insulation professional come in to do the work.

#5 Lower your thermostat

To conserve energy and save money on your utility bill, you should always turn down the heat when you leave the house. You can save up to 5 percent on your utility bill for every degree your heat is reduced. A programmable thermostat can also help regulate the temperature inside your home, which can save you as much as $200. Talk to your utility company about smart meters to help save money on your utility bills.

#6 Call a home energy auditor

If you make changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency and insulation and are still seeing expensive utility bills every month, you can call a home energy auditor to go through your home and identify any problems you may have. A professional will know how much energy your home consumes, where your insulation is lacking and what you can do to increase your energy efficiency. Look for an auditor that is sponsored by the government and may therefore charge less for an audit than others. After you perform a complete audit with the help of a professional, you can choose which projects to complete to increase your home’s efficiency.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Home Tip: Get a Home Inspection

Understand the home you are buying and any potential problems.

Some homeowners might be tempted to skip getting a home inspection because of cost or even timing. Today’s Home Tip of the Day, from Coldwell Banker corporate, explains why getting a home inspection is one of the most important steps in the home buying process.

Home inspections are usually conducted within a week of an accepted contract and item negotiations/repairs, if there are any, are done through the buyer and seller’s respective real estate attorneys. In addition to getting a regular home inspection, some buyers also choose to include a mold and radon inspection as well to protect themselves and those living in the property.

Five Tips for Protecting a Home from Water Hazards

There’s no need yet to acquire an ark, but water certainly has become a bigger menace in many parts of the country. Even storms that don’t escalate into the next Katrina or Sandy can still destroy basements, foundations, roofs, and interiors that once seemed immune to heavy rains.

To prevent damage and avoid large out-of-pocket expenses, home owners should stay on top of maintenance and repair needs. The average water damage insurance claim between 2008 and 2012 for a worst-case flood totaled more than $38,000, according to National Flood Insurance Program data.

These are key steps home owners should consider to protect their property from the ravages of water.

  1. Block Water From Entry Points:
    • Roof shingles that are missing or damaged need to be replaced. Curling shingles can allow water to leak in, and rusty nails or cupping shingles may indicate damage.
    • Gutters and downspouts that are too narrow, aren’t cleaned periodically, or aren’t pitched properly may permit water to come too close to a house, seep in, and damage the foundation, according to Wayne Owczarzak, owner of Mr. Handyman in Wheaton, Ill.
    • Windows and doors with broken glazing will likely allow in water and should be repaired or replaced.
    • Foundations, basement floors, and walls with cracks are additional sources of water entering from the ground, says Owczarzak. White haze, baseboard warping, and paint cracking are all warning signs.
  2. Put in a Second Line of Defense:
    • Sump pumps collect water and send it away. Because they operate electrically, a home owner may want to consider purchasing a generator in case power goes out during a storm. Pumps need to be cleaned periodically so silt from yard waste doesn’t settle, says Randon Gregory with Ram Jack, a foundation repair company in Ada, Okla.
    • French drains collect water along the perimeter of a home and direct it to a sump pump. Exterior waterproofing offers even more protection.
    • Interior drain tiles direct water that gets in to a drainage system under the floor, which pumps it out.
    • Boilers and furnaces should be elevated to keep from being flooded, says builder Jeffrey Collé of East Hampton, N.Y.
    • Window wells should drain properly and be accessible for debris removal. Precut plywood to cover window glazing is useful for hurricane-prone areas.
    • Alarm systems in your home can connect to a computer, the Internet, or a mobile device to warn you of impending disaster. ConnectSense, for example, makes sensors that monitor water and temperature extremes.
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Safety Precautions When Your Home Is Listed

I saw a great post by the Association of REALTORS® and I wanted to share some important safety advice that we share with clients. Before photos are taken of your home, in advance of any showings, remove and hide personal items, including but not limited to:

– prescriptions

– mail/bills

– work

– jewelry

– keys

– family photos and anything with names on it

– anything of great value/great sentimental value, hierlooms, etc.

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Fast Fixes for Common Gutter Problems

(Originally posted on the HouseLogic website…)

Maintaining gutters is the most important thing you can do to prevent water damage to your home. Gutters are designed to do one thing — channel water away from the foundation — and they’re critical to protecting the structural integrity of your house. But in order for gutters to do their job properly, they have to be kept in shape and free of clogs, holes, and sags.

gutter-covers-house-dmr_9ef2e69e28802c8a1b1c8ad557cdcad3_3x2_jpg_300x200_q85Here are the gutter problems that the pros see most often, and the recommended solutions.

Clogged gutters

This is the most common problem of all. Left untended, gutters and downspouts get so clogged with debris that they’re rendered useless. The excess weight of leaves, twigs, and standing water can also make them sag and pull away from the fascia.

Clean them at least once a year, and twice a year if you have a lot of trees nearby. Gary Mindlin, managing partner of New York City-based Top Hat Home Services, schedules gutter maintenance four times a year, with additional checks after big storms.

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Help Protect Your Home Against Extreme Weather

Whether you are purchasing a home or looking to best take care of your current home, I thought House Logic offered some great ways to help protect your home.

roof image

1- With warmer weather, consider a lighter roof (darker roofs can be 50-100 degrees warmer)

2- Prepare for power outages, by installing a standby generator

View more at the original post here.

Home Cleaning Tips

Maintain the inside and outside of your home with these great natural tips.

clean-with-vinegarPull those weeds with a natural solution: The weather and warm, the rain is abundant and the weed pulling isn’t always easy. Use vinegar to pour over weed-ridden areas, say by the porch or deck. (You can also use vinegar in a spray bottle with a little bit of Dawn dish soap.) It will help loosen the weeds to pull and help prevent weeds…or at least slow down the growing process. If you have pets, use caution to protect their paw pads. You will probably want to hose off after the solution sits for a couple hours.

Remove build up from shower heads and faucets: They can harvest bacteria/mildew and should be regularly cleaned. Place vinegar in an appropriately sized ziploc bag and place the bag over the shower head and faucet (secure with a rubber band or another fastener). Let sit for a couple hours. Use a toothbrush to scrub the surface to remove any build up.

Disinfect your sink and unclog the drain: Drainers and cleaners can even smell toxic. To unclog the drain and clean your sinks, pour a kettle of boiling water down your sink. Follow with 1/2 a cup of baking soda and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. Then use 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of boiling hot water to rinse the sink and drain. Cover/plug your drain (it will react) and let sit for another 5-10 minutes. Follow with another kettle of boiling water.

Note: do not mix vinegar and baking soda in advance and store. The results will be different.

Clean the microwave: While it is better to cover anything being heated, microwaves can get messy if something goes awry. Use a glass, microwave safe bowl filled with water and add a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Microwave for approximately five minutes and then wipe down the inside of the microwave. The solution should help when wiping down the inside.

 

The Judy Glockler Group is a three person award-winning real estate team with the premier real estate firm, Coldwell Banker Residential. If you are interested in buying or selling, call them today at 708-529-5839 cell.

20 Ways to Add Curb Appeal

The spring market is here – and our listings are selling in record time. Mortgage rates are low, buyers are out buying. If you are thinking of listing your property, aside from calling us ( we have a nationwide network and can help you find a real estate professional throughout the United States), you will probably want to spruce up your yard and the curb appeal of your home, given the extreme winter we (and most of the country) had.

Better Homes and Garden - ways to add curb appeal

The basics:

– pull weeds ( there are various natural solutions that help: vinegar, dish soap/water mixture, etc.)

– water plants and greenery

– replace/freshen up mulch, if applicable

– trim bushes

– add grass seed to any sparse spots on the lawn

– seal coat your driveway if you have asphalt

– clean the inside and outside of your windows

Curb appeal is important…especially when listing your home. Let any potential buyer’s impression be a  good one – showing that you care for your home. Better Homes and Gardens lists their “20 ways to add curb appeal” to your property. 

(photo source: BHG)

 

 

 

Winter + The Importance of Safety During Home Showings

Sure, there has been a lot of snow this winter. If you own a property that is for sale / being shown this winter, or if you are the listing Agent of a vacant property, please, please, please… make sure your driveway is plowed/shoveled, your walkway is clear and ice-free. At one property, a foreclosure, the snow was over 2.5 feet deep in the driveway, preventing any cars from pulling in the driveway, nor was there a cleared path/walkway to the door. Not only did one of us fall, but there were three kids as well and the snow was that high.

Disclose if a driveway has not been cleared.  If the snow has not been removed or if icy conditions exists, many would not feel comfortable viewing. We usually have a portable shovel, even though clearing is not the showing Agent’s/buyers responsibility – it is up to the sellers/owners to take care.

ice-snow-removal

Illustration: Chris Gash   (source)

Additionally, this snow and rain combination has caused  ice, so please make sure to salt, with animal paw friendly salt, all walkways and stairs (if you have them) leading up to your home. 

It doesn’t stop outside. Place a large rug (or if you don’t have one, a couple large towels) in the foyer as the water tracks all in…especially on the more slippery surfaces like tile and hardwood. First impressions when viewing the property are important. Don’t make the buyers’ first impression of your home one where they are more worried they are going to fall. It happens and you can be held liable.

If you are too busy and can’t find the time to make your home safe for showings, it may be best to hold of on showings until you can remove the snow and de-ice. I would much rather wait than fall or slip, and I am sure I am not alone.