Posts tagged ‘homeowners’

October 6, 2014

Energy; Use less to save more this season

EnergyEfficiency

 

You can save big money by changing your energy habits. Today, most things we use are run by electricity, but have we become over-dependent? What are the alternatives? If you haven’t already, conduct an energy assessment to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.

Here are a handful of tips to revise your energy habits that can pay big dividends, month after month.

 

 

 


Source: phillippebuilders.com


Electronics and Appliances
Did you know that 75% of the power used by home electronics is consumed while they are off?

  • Plug electronics into a power strip, and remember to turn the strip off when not in use to save energy costs.
  • Avoid energy vampires. Even when appliances/electronics are turned off (those that are plugged in), they are in “standby” mode, which still uses energy to power features such as clock displays.
  • Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs. They are up to 30% more efficient than noncertified models.
  • Unplug battery chargers when batteries are fully charged or aren’t in use.

 

Old Appliances
Older appliances may still do the job, but were not designed with today’s energy efficiency. At an unexpected, intoasterovenconvenient time, a refrigerator or other appliance may need costly repair or replacement.

  • Use microwaves and toaster ovens to cook or warm leftovers, less energy is used in comparison to a conventional oven.
  • If you have a second fridge located in the garage or utility room, it is time to pull the plug. There are numerous places you can call to pick it up for a small recycling fee.
  • Keep you refrigerator temperature between 30-42°F. If you have a power-save switch, turn it on.
  • If your refrigerator is from the 90’s, you may want to consider purchasing a new energy efficient model to lower operating costs.
  • Dust your fridge. Check the coils behind the refrigerator and use coil vacuums or dusters to clean it off and keep costs down.
  • Keep your freezer full – it uses les energy than an empty one. For maximum savings, consider filling your freezer with gallon containers of water.
  • Set your dishwasher on economy mode, to use less water and electricity.

 

Cover Drafty Windows

  • Use a heavy duty, clear plastic sheet or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • Install tight-fitting insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • Or you could install storm windows for those brutal winter months. These windows can help reduce heat loss by 25-50%

 

Find and Seal Leaks

  • Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
  • Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.

 


Lightingcflbulb

  • Replace standard bulbs with CFLs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are more energy-efficient than regular bulbs, and give off the same amount of light.
  • Choose outdoor CFLs for outdoor lighting; they last up to 10 times longer than standard light bulbs.
  • Replace halogen light bulbs. They can get extremely hot and become a fire hazard.
  • Use motion-detector lights for all your outdoor lighting; they are convenient and efficient.
  • Select light-colored or opaque lamp shades and place lamps in corners so they reflect light from two walls.

 

Heatingheating

  • Schedule service for your heating system.
  • Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed
  • Cover all bare floors; carpeting or rugs add heat retention, especially if there is little or no floor insulation.
  • Raise the temperature slowly to keep your bill lower. Quickly raising your heat pump’s temperature activates the heat strip, which uses a large amount of energy.
  • Your thermostat should be set to 68-70 degrees during the day in the winter months, and 65-68 degrees at night to keep your home comfortable and save on heating costs.
  • Limit your use of portable heaters. Even though they are useful for “spot” heating, running a 1,500-watt heater all day can be pricey.
  • Although the warm months are coming to an end, you can still utilize the sun. Leave window shades/blinds up during the day.

 

Lower Your Water Heating Costs

  • Water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home.
  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). It will save you money while keeping water hot enough for showers and cleaning dishes.
  • Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes.
  • Check your hot water pipes for leaks, which can drain energy savings.
  • Take shorter showers to cut down on hot water costs.
  • If you have an older water heater, get an insulation wrap to help your old water heater heat more effectively.

 

Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplacefire

  • Keep warm air in your house and cold air out with proper chimney maintainance.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter, it allows warms air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly, approximately 1 inch, and close doors leading into the room.
  • Lower the thermostat setting somewhere in between 50°-55°F.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.

 

We hope that these tips are helpful. If you have your own energy saving tips, please feel free to share your knowledge. Stay warm, save money and conserve energy.

January 10, 2014

Being a Good Neighbor

Ask yourself, ”Am I a good neighbor”?

finalpostGood neighbors are important.  Living in a neighborhood where you feel safe and connected can impact your level of happiness and even reduce stress.  You may not be able to change your neighborhood, but you can certainly change the experience you have in your neighborhood by getting out and getting involved.

Here are a few qualities of a good neighbor:

Good neighbors are respectful
Always be conscientious about noises that may disturb your neighbors, such as music, loud talking, barking dogs.  End parties at a reasonable hour, while you are at it, invite your neighbors.  Always return anything you borrow in the same condition, in a timely manner, and express your gratitude when you do so.  Make time to smile and say hello.  Never forget, while neighbors may live close, they are also respectful of each other’s privacy.

Good neighbors are proud
Be considerate of those around you.  Take pride in maintaining your home so that it is neat and attractive.  Mow your lawn regularly and keep your landscape trimmed and neat.  Coming home to a beautiful house and neighborhood is rewarding.

Good neighbors are helpful
Offer to collect mail, water plants, or watch pets while a neighbor is away on a trip.  When snow falls, help elderly neighbors by shoveling their driveway or sidewalks.  Prepare a meal when a neighbor is under the weather or run errands while their car is in the repair shop.  You never know when you will need one of them to return the favor for you.

Good neighbors are supportive
Organizing neighborhood parties, yard sales, or other functions is a good way to get to know each other better and a great way to build a stronger community.  Neighbors who know each other personally are more likely to look out for and help each other.  Neighborhood Watch groups are another way to help and support your neighbors.  They deter crime and violence, making your neighborhood a safer, happier place to live.

Good neighbors are social
Get to know your neighbors.  Welcome new neighbors with a note or a friendly chat.  Invite neighbors over for coffee to visit and share good news.  Learn from your neighbors who have different cultural backgrounds than you.  Everyone gets busy; it only takes a little bit of time to organize an annual holiday party and socialize with all your neighbors.

Getting to know the people around you takes only mere moments out of your day, but can provide a lifetime of pride in your home and the neighborhood.  It is nice knowing you can depend on those around you and they can depend on you.

“When strangers start acting like neighbors…communities are reinvigorated.” – Ralph Nader

Click here for some tips on meeting your neighbors.

Looking for a new home? Prudential Homesale’s new real estate search can help you find what you are looking for.

January 8, 2014

Winter’s Wrath

winter-wrathIf you have been impacted by the current arctic temperatures, or if you live in an area frequently hit by winter storms, this article is for you! While you can’t change the weather, you can minimize some of winter’s biggest threats to your home.  

Here are a few suggestions to help avoid potentially expensive damage to your home this winter.

  • Keep Pipes Warm – Some of the most expensive damage comes from pipes that burst!  Even if your home is warm, the areas where your pipes are located may not be (attic, basement, back of cabinets).  Wrap pipes with insulation in these colder areas, or open cabinets to allow warm air to circulate.  Allowing your faucets to drip will keep water moving through your pipes and also helps prevent freezing.
  • Protect the outside – Clean your gutters to prevent water from clogging and freezing.  Make sure spouts direct water away from your home. Trim low tree branches that could freeze or snap, damaging your home or power lines.  Re-seal around doors and windows with caulk. Unhook garden hoses to prevent pipe damage.
  • Carbon Monoxide – Buy a detector to protect your family! This is one of the biggest winter dangers due to improper ventilation of furnaces, generators, propane burning devices or wood stoves. It is recommended that you have a detector on each level of your home.
  • Consider a Generator – This can help keep your home warm and keep things running. It can also help prevent frozen pipes and keep you more comfortable. Some insurance companies will give a discount if you have an automatic standby generator installed in your home.
  • Check the Roof – If too much snow accumulates, your roof could collapse; especially a flat one or those over porches and additions. Consider purchasing a roof rake that will enable you to “pull” snow off the roof while you stay safe on the ground!
  • Avoid Ice-dams – This happens when your home’s warmth melts the snow on your roof and it re-freezes near the roof’s edge. This creates a dam that can force leaks into your roof and damage interior ceilings and walls. If you see icicles dangling from your roof this could be an indication of ice-dams. To help prevent this, keep your attic cold (no more than 5-10 degrees warmer than outside). Prevent warm “leaks” into the attic by sealing holes around light fixtures and ceiling fans.
  • Keep Emergency Kits – Keep one in your home and one in your car. Include items like flashlights, batteries, battery-powered radio, a car charger for your cell phone, non-perishable food items, water, blankets, some extra cash, gloves, hats, mittens, etc. Always keep your car’s fuel tank at least ½ full during the winter months.

Taking these steps just a day or two before a big storm hits can make a big difference!

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Tips for Homeowners  |  Tips for Home Sellers  |  Tips for Home Buyers

December 19, 2013

Wrapping Up Your Home for the Holidays

home-christmas-decorationsIn the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” Clark Griswold may have gone a little overboard with his Christmas lights, but if he was selling his house, he may have had the right idea.

“Great decorations really set the tone for the holidays, a time when you can showcase your home in a different way to highlight areas that normally may not stand out,” said Amy Cornwell, President/ Lead Designer for Creative Impressions, which specializes in seasonal decorating.

By creating a festive atmosphere, a home seller allows perspective buyers to envision what their holidays will be like in the property—complete with a beautiful tree, stockings hung from the fireplace mantels and the smell of Christmas cookies in the air.

Home Buyers associate a sense of ‘home’ through the traditions and memories of holiday décor,” Cornwell said. “It’s a great way to attract buyers.”

Nighttime is when many perspective buyers are driving around looking at houses, and nothing will slow them down more than a great Christmas light display. “A well-designed display adds festive elegance to a home, and highlights the already-present features of the property,” said Brandon Stephens, vice president of Marketing at The Decor Group, Inc., Lubbock, Texas, specializing in interior and exterior holiday decorating.

In fact, consider holding an open house at night, when you can serve hot chocolate and better show off the Christmas lights, holiday decorations and all that the house has to offer.

Here are some simple suggestions to ensure your home captures the holiday spirit without interfering in the real estate process:

  • Keep decorations to a minimum so you don’t block views, make rooms feel smaller and disrupt the natural flow of the home. Consider a smaller tree and store gifts in another room.
  • Incorporate fresh evergreen or rosemary into your decorating for a classic look and to promote “the Christmas tree smell.”
  • Make sure light strings and extension cords are tucked away for everyone’s safety.
  • Eschew religious or cultural decorations to not alienate prospective buyers who don’t share your beliefs.
  • Leave a plate of holiday cookies and warm cider or cocoa for prospective home buyers.

 

The holidays are emotional times for most people, including home shoppers. Holiday decorations, presented tastefully and sensibly, can help you wrap a bow on your home for just the right buyer.

Happy Holidays!

December 5, 2013

Affordable Home Heating

homeheatingApproximately 1/3 of our nation’s energy consumption comes from the residential sector and about 70% of this usage is from homes that are more than 30 years old.

Whether you are heating one of these older homes or a home built more recently; saving money AND energy is important to all of us.  Here are some strategies you can employ to save on winter heating costs, help the environment, and stay warm!

  • Power of Knowledge – An energy audit of your home is a great place to start.  Some utility companies will perform them for free!  This will show you exactly where most of the warm air is escaping and cold air is entering.  They can also provide detailed plans on ways to warm up your home.  A DIY method is to hold a stick of incense near windows, doors, and any other place there might be a gap; then watch for the smoke to blow inwards.  Leaks can be fixed by using caulk, insulation, or by replacing worn weather-stripping.
  • Programmable Thermostat – If your home in not equipped with one, this is a great investment.  Different heating schedules for different days of the week can be easily created.  You can make sure your home is warm when occupied and saves you money when it’s empty.  Reduced heating costs can also be accomplished by keeping the temperature at a consistent level, avoiding spikes up or down.
  • Insulation – Lack of proper insulation may be more of an issue in older homes, but there are ways to remedy it with relative ease. Trained installers can inject a nonflammable foam resin into existing walls.  The foam is filled with tiny air bubbles that increase its heating and cooling properties.  Older homes were built to “breathe”; make sure the professional you hire knows how to determine the correct amount of insulation for your particular home.
  • Room Isolation – Don’t waste heat on empty spaces; shut the door of any room that is not being used.  Smaller rooms and bedrooms can often be heated by an electric space heater (at a much lower cost) instead of using your home’s central heating system.  Don’t heat the entire house at night when all you really need is a warm bedroom.  (Use extra care and follow all manufacturers’ instructions for space heaters)
  • Fireplace/Indoor stove – When properly used and maintained, they can be efficient sources of heat for multiple rooms and/or your entire home.  Some indoor stoves can generate more heat than common home furnaces.
  • Dress warmly – Wool socks, warm sweaters, slippers, and blankets can all help keep you warm, while allowing you to reduce your home’s indoor temperature.  This can also apply to your windows.  “Dressing” them with heavier drapes during this time of year can help retain heat in your home when they are closed at night.

 

There are many easy, economical ways to improve your home’s heat efficiency, try a few of these to see what a difference they can make!  Keep your home warm and comfy for less!

Askhomesale.com offers a whole range of real estate topics from tips for homeowners, home buyers, and home sellers alike.

November 8, 2013

Prudential Real Estate Q3 Consumer Outlook Survey

Prudential Real Estate has released the results of its third quarter Consumer Outlook Survey indicating men and women tend to take up different tasks in the home-buying process and view homeownership through a slightly different lens. However, both say their real estate agent helped ease the decision-making process. Take a look at the infographic in this moew insight into each role in the home-buying process.

(magnifyClick to enlarge)

Q3 2013 Consumer Outlook Survey Infographic

Like this blog post? Take a look at our real estate blog categories;
Homeowners | Home Buyers | Home Sellers

October 22, 2013

Autumn Home Checklist

 Fall made its official arrival on Sunday, September 22nd. Although some days are still sunny and a bit warmer than usual,
don’t be fooled! Crisp, colder days are winter days lurking around the corner; NOW is the perfect time to prepare your
home for them!

Here is a checklist to help you get started….

Oct 2013 IOV - Ecard

A little time spent now can save you the hassle of dealing with bigger issues later! With falling leaves
and dwindling daylight hours. Take advantage of this final opportunity to get these task completed before
winter settles in!

Baltimore Homes for Sale  | Towson Homes for Sale | Lancaster Homes for Sale | York Homes for Sale

October 2, 2013

Real Estate: Buy or Sell First?

buy-or-sellWhen it comes to home buying, the ideal situation would be to find a new home, just as you receive an offer on your existing home. You would then be able to close concurrently and move into your new home a few days prior to closing on your previous home. This does happen more often than not, but anyone looking to buy a new home needs to consider all the possible scenarios.

Should you buy or sell first? There are many schools of thought on this subject. Ultimately, it depends on you and your situation. For instance, can you afford to pay two mortgages in the event your previous home does not sell by the time you move? Would you consider a bridge loan (a short-term, high interest loan that let you borrow against the value of your old home to covers the bills until you secure the new, larger loan)? Are you willing to move twice to find the home of your dreams if you sell first and can’t find the dream home fast enough?

This is where the advice of a real estate sales professional is invaluable. Real estate sales professionals know the current market conditions. They are trained and experienced in working with home buyers and sellers to determine an ideal time to buy and sell.

It is generally less stressful to sell your home first, because you won’t have to worry about owning two homes at one time. The market will dictate how long it will take your home to sell, as will your location and the time of year. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to put your home of the market as far in advance as possible when purchasing a new one. But, since interest rates are low and confidence is returning to the market, there’s a good change your home will sell faster if priced properly. (Again, your real estate professional’s advice is critically important here.) In that case, you may want to purchase a new home first.

What if your present home sells before you find a new one, putting pressure on you to find the right house for you more quickly? You may then decide to make an interim move or request to rent back your home for a specified amount of time as you continue to look for your new home. Those may be worthwhile options if you have your heart set on a specific location or type of home or if you are purchasing a home that is under construction.

If you buy a home before selling your present home, you may end up with two mortgages. Under those circumstances, you may be able to apply for a bridge loan to assist you in making two mortgage payments until you sell your first home. Your real estate sales professional can assist you in finding a lender.

So should you buy or sell first? This is a challenging question regardless of real estate cycles, yet your own circumstances and a knowledgeable real estate professional will help you make the right decision.

 

AskHomesale.com Provides tips for Homeowners, Home buyers and Home Sellers

August 1, 2013

DIY Projects to cool your home!!

staycoolblogSummer is a great time for some of our favorite activities, like hiking, swimming, relaxing at the beach, or just enjoying the outdoors.  But at times the heat of summer can become a bit uncomfortable…..especially in your home.

Tackle these simple projects to make your home more comfortable for those times you are ready to take a break from the outdoor heat!

A/C Filter – Avoid costly air conditioning repairs by performing some basic maintenance……replacing the air filter.  This should only cost a few dollars and will help ensure that your a/c continues to run smoothly and efficiently.

Install Shades – A door or window shade can help block out a great deal of the sun’s heat.  They are simple to install and can be fairly inexpensive.  Be sure to measure carefully!  Keeping the blinds closed on extremely warm days can greatly reduce your cooling costs!

Shade Trees – Planting trees to shade your home is a great idea if you are planning to stay there for a while.  It seems like an ideal solution to have their canopy for shade, but we know trees do not grow overnight.  However, there are certain types that will grow faster than others!

Drafts – No matter what time of year, drafts can torment every homeowner!  In the summer, drafts can allow the stifling heat into your home, while allowing the cool air to escape!  You can detect leaks by guiding a candle around the frame of doors and windows, watching the flame for signs of a draft.  Once located, simply remove any old/worn caulk and replace it with new, waterproof filler!

Check A/C Ducts – If you have been using your a/c for a few years, chances are some of your duct work may have come loose.  Loose duct fittings can cause a 20% drop in your air conditioner’s efficiency.  Take the time to inspect the ductwork and repair any areas that show “wear”.

Bedding – This might seem like a very minor task to consider, but the difference you will feel with light-weight fabrics is quite noticeable!  Heavier fabrics trap heat making it harder to sleep if you are too warm!  Natural fibers like Egyptian cotton, will allow better circulation and a much more comfortable night’s rest!

Take care of these few DIY projects this weekend………so next weekend you can enjoy yourself whether you are out OR in!!

July 18, 2013

Prep Your Home for Vacation

img-prep-home-for-summerBefore you head out the door to your favorite summer vacation spot, take a few minutes to run through this checklist and prep your home before you leave; it could make your return just a little bit sweeter.

  • Light it up – the kitchen (usually in the rear of the home) is a favorite break-in spot.  Move a lamp into the kitchen and arm it with a timer that you can set to come on at random times.  Also illuminate the main exterior entrances of your home with outdoor timers as well.
  • Keep it Quiet – Don’t post pictures on Facebook until you are home and don’t change voicemail greetings to say that you are out of town.
  • Keep it Cool – Don’t turn off your homes AC, mold and mildew can grow in a few days with warm temps.  Instead set the thermostat to 82 Fahrenheit and your home will stay cool enough to prevent both.
  • Power it down – A power surge can damage small appliances or cause fires.  Unplug all items that are not plugged into a surge protector, such as a toaster and coffeemaker; and turn all surge protectors to off.
  • Flush it – Flush the toilets and leave the lid up (just this once) so you won’t come home to icky, stagnant water.
  • Clean it – Run the dishwasher to clean all dirty dishes.  Remove them and leave the door open.  This will allow the interior to dry completely and it won’t smell musty when you return.
  • Trim it – Prune tree branches that extend over your house, especially if they are dying or are dead.  Doing this will help prevent expensive damage if a storm hits while you are away.
  • Stop it – Have your mail held while you are gone and suspend your newspaper deliveries.
  • Lock it – Most burglars will use force to gain entry, but they often look first for open windows and doors.  Double check that all are locked (even on the 2nd story), replace any broken window panes, and bring in any hidden keys.
  • Arm it – Set the alarm and notify your security company that you will be away.  Give a relative or friend the security code, the company name, your itinerary, and your contact numbers just in case.  Also test your smoke alarms before you depart to make sure they work.
  • Get help with it – Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your home every other day if possible and to bring in any unexpected deliveries like a phone book or circulars.  Make sure you give them a key.

Taking time to prepare your home can help give you greater peace of mind while you travel.

Go on, relax and have fun!

Take a look at these Homeowner Survival Skills for more tips on taking care of your home.
Looking for a career as a Maryland or Pennsylvania Real Estate Agent? Visit our Real Estate Careers website for more information.

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