Monday, October 15, 2018

Fall and Winter Energy Saving Tips

We had unusually warm weather throughout September and the first week of October, now that the temperature is dipping below 60 degrees, it's time to break out the warm sweaters and turn up the thermostat!  And maybe pick up some hot cocoa from the supermarket :) 

Hopefully, you read our last blog post about fall maintenance, one of the recommended items was to check your water heater for leaks.  Now is the time to get it fixed if necessary, you won't want to be stuck in the cold once the temperature really starts to dip.  Continue reading for some great tips on how to save on heating and energy.


Image result for heating for winter


  • Take advantage of natural heat, the sun! Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce chills from cold windows. 
  • Cover drafty windows. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty. 
  • Temperature control.  When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10-15 degrees for 8 hours and save around 10% a year on heating and cooling bills.  Think about investing in a smart, programmable thermostat that you can control while at home or away.  
  • Find and seal leaks. Seal the air leaks around unfinished spaces behind cupboards, gaps around chimneys, and recessed lights in insulated ceilings. Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around doors and windows. 
  • Reduce heat loss from fireplaces. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.  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 cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room. 
  • Lower your water heating costs. Turn down the temperature of the water heater to the warm setting, at 120 degrees. Also, make sure to have it tuned up every year. 
  • Insulate your home. Find out how much insulation your home needs and add additional insulation if needed. 
  • Clean vents. Make sure all vents are clean in order to deliver all the heat you're paying for.
  • If your heating unit is old, consider upgrading to a new one. 



Monday, September 24, 2018

Fall Maintenance Checklist

Other than paying the mortgage and utilities, homeowners also can't escape home maintenance! 

Now that the weather is cooling down, it is the perfect time to tackle a few of those home improvement projects.  Before you start your seasonal home maintenance checklist, examine both the interior and exterior of your home to figure out if you will need to call any professionals to get certain tasks done.

Here are some recommendations for your home:


  • Rake leaves and aerate the lawn. 
  • Have forced-air heating system inspected by a professional.
  • Check fireplace for damage or hazards, and clean fireplace flues- always do this before starting to use your fireplace each year. 
  • Seal cracks and gaps in windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping, replace if necessary.
  • Inspect roofing for missing, loose, or damaged shingles and leaks. 
  • Power-wash windows and siding.
  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts- do this regularly during the fall, especially if you have a lot of trees around your house. 
  • Drain and winterize exterior plumbing, ie. sprinkler system.
  • Repair or replace any siding.
  • Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Smoke detectors should be on every floor of your home. 
  • Clean window and door screens.
  • Vacuum link from dryer vent, this can prevent fires. 
  • Check for frayed cords and wires.
  • Drain and store hoses, and drain in-ground sprinkler systems.
  • Wrap insulation around outdoor faucets and pipes in unheated garages. 
  • Check water heater for leaks.




Monday, August 20, 2018

Backyard Bliss

One of the benefits of home ownership is having your own personal outdoor space.  I'm sure everyone knows at least one friend or family member that lives in a NYC apartment that dreams of having a backyard that they could enjoy during their free time.  

Whether it's sitting outside enjoying a cup of coffee, cooking dinner on the grill, or watching the kids play, having a beautiful backyard will make all of these activities ten times better. 


Perfect Patio- the patio is the perfect place to start if you're just getting started on a backyard transformation. Usually surfaced with brick or stone; if you have concrete, consider adding texture and color to imitate stone for a natural look.  Once you have the patio done, consider decorating it with some planters, furniture, or maybe even a garden next to it! 

Outdoor Kitchen- people love eating al fresco, and luckily we can do it spring, summer, and fall.  Depending on your setup, you'll want to make cooking outdoors as easy as possible- who wants to run back and forth between the kitchen and the backyard?  You probably already have the grill, so all you need is a countertop for food prep and a refrigerator and sink to make the prep and cleanup a breeze.  

outdoor stone fireplace and brick patio


Privacy- even though it's our private space, you can make it a little more private from your neighbors with fences or garden walls.  To add some decor, consider adding lattice, a pergola, or different types of landscaping to define your outdoor space.  

pergola


Shading- even if you love the sun, a little bit of shade can be a blessing on those scorching summer days.  You'll be able to enjoy your deck or patio more if you have a place to relax in the shade.  Some choices to consider include trees, umbrellas, retractable awnings, canopy, or even a pergola.

Furnish- of course you'll need some nice, comfy furniture to enjoy your backyard!  Nowadays there are so many options ranging from wicker, plastic, wrought iron, to traditional wood.  Depending on your style, you can go with nude, natural colors or go bright and colorful, don't forget some fluffy pillows to add comfort! 

Outdoor Lighting- the backyard isn't only for enjoyment during the daytime, so you'll need to add some lighting for night time enjoyment!  There are so many options- for dining areas, you can illuminate the table with candles or electric lamps, walkways should always have lighting for safety reasons, and consider outdoor string lights for all other areas of the backyard.  If you don't have any electrical sockets outdoors, look into solar powered options. 

Image result for backyard lighting ideas


Additional Options- if you've done all of the above and still want more, why not think about a fountain, fire pit, or even a hot tub.  The fire pit and hot tub can extend your use of the backyard into the winter.  S'mores anyone? Your backyard oasis will be the envy of all your friends and family! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Popular Home Design Trends 2018

Basement Living Area- with bigger or extended families living under the same roof, people tend to want some separate living spaces.  The basement is a perfect area for an extra bedroom or two!  Basement remodels can even include a kitchen and bathroom where your extended family can have complete privacy and separation from the main house.  And, according to the annual Cost vs. Value report, they're moving up in home return, too. Look for ways to lighten and brighten your own to lessen the underground feeling - white-painted ceilings, light trim, and whitewashed walls and wood floors.

White Flooring- not only are people obsessed with white kitchens right now, another trend is white flooring.  Think white tile in the bathroom and kitchen areas, and white wood flooring in living areas. White brightens up even the darkest rooms and works with nearly every color combo, which is why it's so popular.  Just make sure to keep your broom and mop ready to clean up any dirt and messes :) 

Smart Home- automatic controls is one of the biggest home design trends for 2018.  Not only can it save on energy, it can be customized even when you're away from home.  Tablets, smartphones, apps: they've combined to create the most connected home. Tech advances are one remodeling trend that's particularly hardworking, allowing homeowners to add flexibility, convenience, and even affordability (such as using your device to turn the lights off).

Open Kitchen- a connection between the kitchen, eating, and living space continues to be a trend in both new home construction and remodels.  This is a big advantage for cooks who like to stay connected with guests while preparing food.  No need for everyone to move from room to room while dining or entertaining. 

Tankless Water Heaters- as more homeowners look to save on energy and money, tankless water heaters will grow in popularity. The tankless water heaters provide hot water only as needed so they are not constantly heating up water when not in use.  They come in both gas-fired and electric models, they are also significantly smaller than traditional water heaters for those looking to save space. 

Plants- while houseplants never go out of style, decor featuring plants is big in 2018.  Plants are an easy way to design on a budget and can add pops of color to any space.  You can choose bright flowers, colorful planters, or large statement pieces.  If you don't have a green thumb, there are lots of beautiful faux plant options.  








Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Stay Cool And Save Energy

With summer comes hot weather, which also leads to higher energy bills.  Although cooling down starts with turning on the AC, there are other factors that can help keep your home cool that won't cost an arm and a leg.

Energy Star Certified- whether you have a central unit that cools the whole house or a window unit to cool each room, make sure that it is energy star certified.  It can save you over $100/year.  In addition to it being energy efficient, make sure that you are cleaning the filter regularly.

Curtains- an inexpensive detail can make a big difference in your energy costs.  Insulated curtains give your windows extra protection against the heat.  By blocking out the hot summer sun, the curtains help to keep cool air in.

Insulation- many older homes have insulation that may not be as efficient as the newer types of insulation currently available.  Leaks and gaps in insulation can cost a lot of money both in the hot and cold months.  You don't have to completely replace the insulation, it may be able to be salvaged by sealing it or adding extra insulation where needed.

Windows- Windows let in the sunlight, but they could also letting all the cool air escape.  Energy saving windows can be the upgrade you need to save money on your bills this summer.  If replacing them is not in your budget, consider making other changes such as re-caulking and weather stripping to eliminate any areas where the cool air may be getting out.

These small changes will not only keep you cooler and save money on your energy bills this summer, you will also be happy you made these changes once winter comes back around.