Archive for December, 2012

December 27, 2012

Keeping Cozy for Less

hot-cocoaWe’re almost through December and it’s the time of year when our heating bills make us cringe! Every time your door opens, a little bit of heat escapes your home. With some diligence and a few preventative measures, you can keep your home warm and not break the bank. In fact, you can even increase your heating system efficiency.

Proper insulation is essential to keeping warm and it’s at the top of our tip list. This home improvement may be a bit costly, but it will be worth the cost when you see the reduction of your next heating bill! Insulate your home, this can be done in two different ways:
you can have insulation blown into your walls by a professional or have insulation sheets placed in your, attic, roof, and floor to keep heat in your home. Other items such as curtains at your windows and rugs or carpet can also act as insulation.

Plug the leaks, finding and sealing leaks around the home is a great way to keep things warmer. Install draft blockers at the base of doorways and seal windows with rubber strips or caulk. Another easy window solution is a ready-to-use plastic window insulation kit bought at the hardware store. The fireplace damper is another leak source, keep it closed when you are not using it. Even light switches and outlets may let cold air into your home. Seal kits for can also be purchased for just a few dollars at the local hardware store.

Reducing the temperature on your thermostat by a few degrees can help you save 10-20% on your heating bill. A programmable thermostat is a great, fairly inexpensive solution. You can pre-program lower temperatures for the times when no one is home or when everyone will be snuggled in their beds. Here are some suggested times and temperatures to help you reduce your heat costs:

6am to 9am = 68 degrees
9am to 5:30pm = 60 degrees
5:30pm to 11pm = 68 degrees
11pm to 6am = 60 degrees

As much as you might enjoy a very warm shower this time of year, another great idea is to reduce the temperature setting on your hot water heater. Most are factory set to 140 degrees; you could reduce it to 120 degrees and not feel any difference in your shower. Taking a shower versus a bath will also use about 15 gallons less of that warm water!

Routine maintenance can also be an important factor in your heating efficiency. All filters should be cleaned/replaced at least monthly during the winter season and a professional system check-up before winter begins is highly recommended.

Other small changes that can make a notable difference:
• Open curtains during the day to let sunlight in and close them at night to prevent heat loss
• Switch ceiling fans to a clockwise direction to push warm air down (keep on lowest speed)
• Add a few extra layers to yourself and family with warm sweaters, socks and slippers
• Move furniture away from heat vents, registers, and radiators to keep air flowing.

For more guidance on saving energy you can visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website for tons of easy, practical ideas!

Grab a blanket, a book, and your favorite hot beverage.
Your home will be comfy, cozy, and not break your budget!!

December 17, 2012

Homesale Holiday Photo Contest

Since we enjoy seeing people take pride in their homes, the Homesale Family of Companies is holding a Holiday Photo Contest.

We would like to give you a chance to WIN a $500 Gift card or one of two $100 gift cards to Home Depot.

It is easy to participate. First, visit HomesaleHolidays.com, then, like our Facebook Page, and submit a Holiday photo, featuring your home. Show us your outdoor and indoor decorating!

Be sure to submit your photo between December 17th and December 30th.

Then tell your friends to vote December 31st-January 6th, Have them visit HomesaleHolidays.com to cast their vote. Only one vote is allowed per day so make sure that they check in daily to vote again. The 3 photos with the most votes will receive a prize.

We can’t wait to see your photos, good luck!

December 14, 2012

Tools Every Homeowner Should Have

Not Everyone is a handyman, but that should not stop homeowners from making repairs or small improvements to their own homes. Plus, with the Holidays around the corner, these make great gifts for new homeowners you might know.

IOV Dec 2012- Ecard

December 13, 2012

Holiday Decorating – Hazardous to your Health?

xmasYes, actually it can be, to you, your children, and your furry family members!

Every year during the holidays more than 14,000 people are treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating related injuries, and other holiday decoration “issues”. Millions of dollars in property damage and additional personal injuries are caused by Christmas tree and candle related fires! So here are some tips to keep your family and your home safe this holiday season:

The Tree

  • Artificial – Look for it to say Fire Resistant on the label
  • Fresh cut – Look for freshness; green needles that do not fall off easily. Keep your tree fresh by watering it regularly. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as fireplaces, radiators, and heat vents.
  • Avoid sharp, breakable, ornaments or trimmings that are small or have removable parts if you have small children in your home. Best to avoid decorations that look like food or candy too!
  • Place your special keepsake ornaments near the top, out of the reach of children and pets.

Lights

  • Only use sets that have been tested for safety by a nationally-recognized lab, such as UL.
  • Check for frayed/bare wires and loose connections. Throw away damaged sets.
  • Do not use electric lights on a metallic tree!
  • Make sure your outdoor lights are approved for this specific use.
  • Use extension cords that are rated for the intended use.
  • Unplug all lights before going to bed or leaving your home.
  • Keep all cords inaccessible to your pet so they will not be tempted to chew on them.

Candles

  • Keep all candles within your sight and extinguish them before going to bed or leaving your home. (unplug them if using the electric version)
  • Keep lit candles away from items such as curtains, decorations, furniture, and your tree or other evergreens that could ignite quickly. Keep away from high-traffic areas to avoid being knocked over.
  • Electric candles – check all wires, sockets, etc. for fraying or damage and replace if necessary.

Fireplace

  • Do not burn wrapping paper, tree branches or other items inside that could ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Be careful with “fire salts”, used to produce colored flames. They can cause internal irritation and illness if swallowed…keep away from children and animals.

Miscellaneous

  • Keep alcohol and baking extracts out of reach.
  • Keep candy canes, potpourri, and scented candles away from pets. Even if not toxic, you may still end up with a mess to clean up if they decide to taste them.
  • Mistletoe berries, holly berries, and poinsettias can be poisonous if ingested. If you are using them to decorate, make sure kids and pets cannot reach them.
  • Round up ribbons, bows and other shiny goodies. These are an open invite to your pets for fun and could end up in their tummies!

The holidays are a time to be with family and friends, not visiting the emergency room. Keep these tips in mind while you decorate. Not only can your decorations be dangerous, but hanging them can also be a danger; be cautious. Once all of your trimmings are up, keep a close eye on them.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

 

Check out some more holiday decorating tips here.

December 6, 2012

New Home To-Do List

movingCongratulations, you have found the home of your dreams, but now what? Now is when the real work, planning, and fun begins. This is an exciting new chapter in life, full of great experiences. Take a few minutes now to create a to-do list and plan projects before moving day arrives! You will be glad you did.

Plan & Prepare:

  • Hook yourself up – About a month ahead of the move, contact your current water, electric, cable, and phone companies. This will give you plenty of time to schedule cancellations and not incur any unnecessary charges. Also contact your new providers to schedule “turn-on dates”. Nothing would be worse than trying to move and settle in without water or electric!
  • Update Insurance – Notify your homeowner’s insurance company of the change in your residence. If moving to another state, chances are you will have to get a new policy and maybe even a new company, depending on your current insurance company’s coverage.
  • Go Postal – Recommendations are to file a change of address request with the USPS approximately 6-weeks before you move. You can stop by your local post office or complete it online at http://www.Usps.com. At the same time, it’s a good idea to remove your name from junk catalog lists (www.catalogchoice.org). Eliminate the extra clutter!
  • Medical Records – If you are moving out of the area, it will be much easier to get a copy of your records now rather than later. You may need them to establish yourself as a new patient with another doctor.
  • Local News – Sign up for the local newspaper in your new community. What a wonderful way to get to know the local shops, restaurants, and organizations; plus find out about upcoming events!

Pre-move Projects:
In addition to paperwork, utility switches, and other aspects of moving, now is a great time to consider home renovation projects. Many of them will be much easier to do before all of your belongings arrive!

  • Replace flooring – This can seem a bit daunting now, but will be so much easier for all involved if you can do this project while the space is empty.
  • Painting – Even if you can’t decide on new colors for every room, completing this in just one or two rooms is a great accomplishment. And again, it’s much simpler when you don’t have to crawl over furniture!
  • Closet systems – Closet systems installed ahead of time will allow for easy unpacking; items can go from boxes right into drawers and on shelves.
  • Electrical upgrades – If you’re moving into an older home and this is on the to-do list keep in mind that electricians are paid by the hour; get them in and out as quick as possible!
  • Garage Storage – Have sturdy storage shelves to move? Have them loaded last, so you can get to them first. This will give you an immediate space for those “stored” items and will keep floor space open for other things.

Using the tips and hints here, you’ll find that all of this can be a pleasant experience.

Happy Moving!!

December 3, 2012

“Won’t you be my neighbor?”

homesThe familiar, famous words sung over and over again by Mr. Rogers. They make all of us want to be part of a friendly and inviting neighborhood. Pulling up your roots and moving to a new community can be an adjustment, but more than 43 million Americans do it every year and meeting your new neighbors does not have to be difficult.

It’s really not as tough as you may think to meet people in your area. Here are some great ideas for breaking the ice and fostering the beginning of many great, new friendships.

First Impressions – Remember the saying “First impressions count”? This still holds true. Be a good neighbor from the very first day and people will remember you! Be considerate of where you park your car and moving truck, so you don’t block another’s driveway or mailbox. Check on the local trash pick-up date before you line your curb with the remnants of your move. Though you may be busy unpacking and exhausted…expect the unexpected. Some neighbors will drop by to introduce themselves, bring a casserole or other welcoming gift. Always be courteous, thank them and even invite them in, if possible. And don’t forget to send thank you notes as soon as you are unpacked and settled.

Use your kids – This is one instance where it is acceptable. Keep an eye out for neighboring children who appear to be close to the same age as your own kids. Introduce yourself, suggest a play date to get them acquainted (adults too!). During the school year, make a point to go to the bus stop or join parent organizations to meet others.

Hot Spots – One of the best ways to meet people is to find out where they like to gather. It may be the local pool, community center, coffee shop, or farmer’s market. Make a point to get out to those places and mingle. Pay attention to the patterns in your own neighborhood…do people like to sit on their front porches in the evening or take morning walks? If so, get outside during these times and use the opportunity for introductions.

Be Bold – Take the initiative and knock on their doors to introduce yourself. If you need an excuse to make this situation less awkward, you can always ask to borrow a tool, inquire about lawn service, or request a local restaurant recommendation.

Volunteer – Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for opportunities in the area. What better way to meet people than to support a cause that obviously means something to them as well as to you?

Throw your own party – This could be a simple drop-in at your home (be careful to include all neighbors)…or it could be on a much larger scale such as a neighborhood block party. If you are ambitious and love to organize this type of function, then go for it! If it is well planned, this can be loads of fun for all ages and will be remembered for a long time.

With a little perseverance, maybe even a little courage, you’ll be able to meet many of your neighbors and make a smooth transition into a new homes community.

Relocation and Moving Information

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