Archive for July, 2012

July 27, 2012

Five Tips for a Green Home

Eco-friendly. Carbon footprint. Global warming. Energy-efficient. These catch phrases have become part of our lexicon as we’ve become more aware of our impact on the environment and our role in protecting it. As a homeowner, there are some simple, inexpensive steps you can take to make your home energy-efficient. Get started on the road to being “green” with these five tips:
 

Change Your Light Bulbs

By replacing just five incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, you can save $100 per year on electric bills while using up to 75 percent less energy and removing greenhouse gases from the environment.

Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances

ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and air conditioners, meet a higher level of energy efficiency set by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy than standard models. According to ENERGY STAR, if just one in 10 homes used ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, the impact could be compared to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. And, switching to these appliances is not only good for the environment, but easy on your pocketbook. Although these appliances may costs more, you can reduce your energy bill by $80 per year.

 

Seal Up

Cracks and air leaks represent cash seeping from your doors and windows. Get rid of air leaks in doors, windows and other areas by caulking gaps and cracks. This will help decrease your heating and air conditioning bill. But make sure you use silicone sealants. Acrylic caulk tends to shrink, while silicone sealants are waterproof and won’t shrink or crack, creating less waste.

Use Less Water

Did you know that roughly 60 percent of a home’s water consumption takes place in the bathroom, according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council? The largest culprit is the toilet, which accounts for 27 percent of your household supply every year. By installing low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets, you can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In addition, replace leaky fixtures. That slow-dripping faucet can waste as much as 2,400 gallons of water per year.

Adjust the Thermostat

When adjusting your home’s thermostat, the rule of thumb should be: turn up the dial in the summer and down in the winter. Lowering the temperature by just one degree will reduce your electrical costs. And if you use a programmable thermostat, you can program your air-conditioning and heating systems to reduce output while no one is at home or at night while you sleep. Ceiling fans are also helpful in circulating the air to keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming or costly. By making just a few small changes within your home, you can help decrease energy consumption and help make the world a “greener” place.

Prudential Homesale Service Group is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity.
July 23, 2012

Down Payment Tips

Many people dream of owning a home but don’t think it’s possible because they lack the resources for a down payment and closing costs. Here are tips for securing that down payment.

1) Borrow from your retirement account: Many people have been investing in a 401(k) plan or traditional IRA for years and first-time homebuyers may borrow up to $10,000 for their down payment without incurring a penalty. For those self-employed or if your employer allows it, you also can borrow up to $50,000 from your current 401(k) and pay yourself back over five years at a low interest rate.

2) Ask family: Sure, you may be too proud to ask for money, but if relatives can help you and your family move into that dream home, isn’t it worth it? If you do get help from a family member, the lender will ask you to sign a gift-letter form, attesting to the relationship. The lender may also require your relatives to explain where they got the money and prove that they are financially able to make such a gift.

3) Look for down payment assistance grants: Down payment assistance and community redevelopment programs offer affordable housing opportunities to first-time home buyers, low-income and moderate-income individuals and families who wish to own a home.

4) Come to a lease/purchase agreement: Homeowners who can’t sell their homes in this market may consider a lease/purchase agreement, where you rent the home you want to buy and a percentage of your rent is applied toward the down payment. If you go this route, make sure you get a contract outlining all the details so both parties are protected.

5) Add it to the wedding registry: Several mortgage companies allow those getting married to set up a down payment registry. This is a great way to celebrate the joining of two people in matrimony.

6) Cut back and save: If none of the other ways will work for you, there’s always the old fashioned “saving for a rainy day.” Try putting aside 10% of each paycheck and make your meals instead of going out for them. If you’re married, save the money you would spend on birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents and put it toward your house. You also may need to forget that vacation this year.

These sacrifices may seem significant but they will be worth it once you’re inside your own home. Check out our article on Renting vs. buying for more info on why it might be better for you to own your own home.

Prudential Homesale Services Group is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.
July 6, 2012

Tips to Beat the Heat this Weekend

As Temperatures on the east coast rise above 100 degrees this weekend, you may find it rather difficult staying cool. Here are 10 ways to help beat the summer heat:

  1. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes.
  2. Drink LOTS of water.
  3. Eat small meals. The bigger  the meal, the more metabolic heat your body creates to break down the food.
  4. Run your wrists under cold water every couple of hours. This helps to cool your blood.
  5. If you have a basement, try to use it during the hottest hours of the day while  the sun is highest. Basements are typically 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of a house.
  6. Keep  the house curtains drawn.
  7. Avoid alcohol because it dehydrates the body. Also, avoid drinks with caffeine(Coffee, Soda). These drinks increase the metabolic heat in the body.
  8. Swap out your normal body moisturizer for a cooling Aloe Vera after sun product to help lower your skin temperature.
  9. Move SLOW. Avoid strenuous activity which stimulates your body and raises its core temperature. If you must get some outdoor exercise get out during the coolest part of the day, usually before 7am.
  10. Sleep under a sheet instead of a blanket. Or even better, place your sheets in a plastic bag and stick them in the fridge shortly before going to bed.
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