Ways To Reduce Your Heating Bill

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When the temperature outside begins to fall, our heating bills quickly start to rise.  For many homeowners, keeping their house warm in the winter means paying a hefty heating bill.  Luckily, there are some ways to help reduce those costs and keep a little extra cash in your pocket for a rainy (and warmer) day.

Shade and Blinds – Though it may be cold outside, the sun still tries to peak through on occasion.  When it does, make sure to open your curtains and/or blinds in order to welcome the sun’s heat into your home.  This will help to add a touch of warmth to help keep your heating costs down.  After all, the time for seeking shade from the sunlight is in the summer.

Cool It – Did you know that the settings on your water heater could be affecting your heating bill?  It’s true.  Check your owner’s manual or ask a local expert about the ideal settings for your water heater which, if turned down, may still be able to heat your water adequately while reducing your heating bill.

Insulation Information – Insulation is used to maintain your home’s temperature.  Some houses, especially older ones, may require additional insulation to keep the cold air out during the winter and the warm air in.  The latter is especially important if your goal is to lower your heating bills.  Check with a local insulation professional about upgrading or replacing your outdated insulation.

Temperature Control – Turning the thermostat down when the house is empty or at night (when you can snuggle up under the covers) will help to reduce your heating costs.

Window Woes – If you feel a cold draft near your windows, chances are good that it isn’t the only direction that the air is flowing.  Specifically, air leaks or gaps in your window can cause the warm air to leave your home, which can result in a rising heat bill.  If you notice a draft, use caulk to seal the area or hire a professional to repair any cracks or imperfections that may be causing an airflow problem.

Now that you know how to keep your heating costs down, it’s important to note a certain amount of fresh air must be able to enter the home in order to prevent a buildup of moisture, which could lead to mold during the winter.  In other words, don’t prevent a natural airflow by making your home excessively airtight.

 

Decorating For The Fourth Of July: Show Your Patriot Pride!

Decorating for the Fourth of July is really a great and easy way to show your patriotic pride, and with our nation’s colors of red, white, and blue going so well together, it also couldn’t be easier.  Whether it’s decoration ideas for a Fourth of July party, or even if you are just looking to give your home a more patriotic look all year round, here are a few great ideas for infusing the traditional, or the contemporary American look, into your home!

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Denim Blue

Really, what could be more American than blue jeans?  Denim is a great fabric for decorating for the holiday or all year round, as it is an inexpensive and durable fabric.  You can create pillow covers using denim with a vintage American flag sewn on, or can also create placemats with a similar theme.  You could even make napkins using a softer grade of the fabric.

Set The Table

If you are hosting a Fourth of July party, setting a table for the day can be really simple.  Finding red, white, and blue tablecloths, napkins, and tableware is easy at this time of year; just keep in mind that it is not a good idea to use the flag itself as a tablecloth or placemats.  Instead you could use a red tablecloth with blue and white placemats.  For a centerpiece, a combination of red and white carnations with little American flags placed in the arrangement will finish the table off.  White plates would look great on this table, but you may also want to find a set specifically for the day.

Decorate Outdoors!

Independence Day is a great excuse to get outdoors and celebrate with friends and family.  You can decorate your yard for the day by not only thinking red, white, and blue, but also Americana.  Touches like porch swings and hammocks bring us back to a simpler time.  Flowers are a great way to show your pride, and potted arrangements of red, white, and blue flowers will look great on any patio.  You can also hang a flag in both your front and back yards, and find various outdoor decor items that have an American theme.

These are just a few of the countless ways you can bring your American pride into your home for the Fourth of July, and keeping the theme going all year can really lend a cozy feel to your home and yard.

Cut Your Cooling Costs With These Money-Saving Tips

When it comes to keeping your home comfortable in the summer, there are a number of ways to accomplish your goal without breaking a sweat over your cooling costs.  Believe it or not, the price of heating and/or cooling a home often accounts for more than 50 percent of a homeowner’s energy bill.  What does this mean for you?  As a budget conscious individual, it’s time to cut your cooling costs with these money-saving tips.

Sunblock

When the sun is up, consider pulling your shades down.  Close your curtains, blinds or whatever window treatments you use to keep the sun’s rays from heating up your home.  This will help to keep the interior of your home cool, which can help to cut your energy costs by not making your air conditioner work harder simply because the sun is causing excess heat.  Solar screens for your windows and a radiant paint barrier for your attic are effective ways to block much of the sun’s UV rays.

Coolness Counts

If you use an air conditioner to cool your home, make sure that you adjust the temperature when you leave the house.  Otherwise, you are just wasting energy on a home when no one is there.  Additionally, you can also turn the unit down at night when the temperatures typically tend to cool off.  This is true whether you are using a window unit for an individual room or a central system that’s used to cool the entire home.

Maintaining Your Cooling Unit

It’s important to clean your filters and/or replace them as recommended by the manufacturer.  In addition to possibly resulting in dust and other allergens being circulated into the air, neglecting your filters could prevent the cool air from properly getting into your home.  Have your air ductwork inspected on a regular basis for leaks and clogs to insure your system operates at peak performance.

Keep The Air Moving

Not every summer day is a hot one, which means you can often take advantage of the temperatures by using a standard fan instead of your air conditioner.  The latter uses a great deal more energy than a fan, so consider your needs on a daily basis when choosing how to cool your home.  You can install a ceiling fan for added air circulation, or you can use a standard rotating fan.

Cut Back On Cooking

Your kitchen oven can heat up your home in a hurry, which can make your air conditioner work harder to keep your house cool.  This, in turn, results in higher cooling costs.  Instead of using the oven, consider popping something in the microwave or on the outdoor grill for a change.  While this may not be possible every day, it’s certainly something to consider on those sweltering summer afternoons.

Childproofing Your Home

When it comes to decorating your home, there’s a lot more to consider than simply coordinating your window treatments with your carpet. This is especially true if you have children in the home, which presents a whole new concern for keeping them safe and sound.

Take A Look Around

When you take a quick glance throughout your home, what do you see? Is the home decorated for an adult or a child? If your little one is like most, he/she has a lot of energy and isn’t afraid to use it. To prevent a hard spill, many families replace hardwood or tile flooring with plush carpet or rugs for a little extra padding. If your child stumbles and falls, the extra cushioning will come in handy.

Do you have any furniture with glass inserts or sharp corners, or do you see a lot of breakables throughout the home? If so, it’s time to remove them. You should get rid of any furniture that could be hazardous to your youngster and this includes glass top tables and anything with protruding edges.

Lots Of Locks

When you have children in the home, it’s important that you keep all cleaning products locked away in a cabinet and/or out of reach of your little ones. If possible, consider adding an alarm that will alert you if the cabinet is opened.

Most families have a medicine cabinet, which contains either over-the-counter or prescription medication. This area is a serious concern for children and should be locked and out of their reach. It’s also important that all medications feature a childproof lid for added protection.

If there is an area of your home or a specific room that your child is not permitted in, place a child gate in the doorway to prevent them from sneaking in while you’re not looking. Children are fast, but this is one way to make sure that they are also safe.

Do Not Touch

Children are curious by nature, but there are some common household items that they simply must refrain from touching. These include a fan, paper shredder, space heater, scissors and other sharp objects that could pose a serious risk for your little one. Make sure that these items, along with anything similar, are kept out of reach. All electrical appliances, including hairdryers, styling products and appliances must be stored away from water and out of your child’s reach to prevent injury.

Speaking of which, all electrical outlets should be covered with outlet covers and any small items, including marbles and coins, must be picked up and kept out of your child’s reach. Because children love to see what they can fit into their mouths, it’s important that they not be left alone near these items.

Safety At Play

When your child is outside, make sure that the environment is a safe one. This means that your yard should be completely fenced with a locked gate to prevent him/her from wandering out into the street. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your child, but it’s even better to make sure that he/she is safe if you happen to glance away for a second.

Indecision May Cost More

“More has been lost due to indecision than was ever lost to making the wrong decision.” Interest rates have as much effect on housing costs as price and when they are both trending upward, it can be very expensive to wait.

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There can be some legitimate reasons for postponing a purchase such as needing to save the down payment, improve your credit or waiting to find out about a possible transfer. The problem is that prices and interest rates could, and very likely will, go up in the future.

If the price of $250,000 home went up 5% and the interest rate went from 4.5% to 5.25%, the payments would increase by $176.42. The additional cost over a seven-year period would be close to $15,000.

The questions that indecisive buyers need to ask themselves is “how am I going to feel knowing that if I had not waited, I could have been living in the home for less money?” and “What would I have spent the money on if I didn’t have to make the larger payment?”

Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to find out how much indecision may be costing you.v

Rent vs. Own

Some would-be buyers have emotional reasons to own a home like having a place of their own where they can raise a family, feel safe and secure and enjoy their friends’ company. Other buyers’ dominant reasons might be financial in nature such as building equity or lowering their cost of housing.52407681-250.jpg

Regardless of what might be motivating people to want their own home, it is easy to justify that now is a good time to purchase. Let’s look at a $250,000 example using a FHA loan.

The total payment will be about $1,835 dollars a month. If the payment is lower than the rent a person is paying, that should encourage a person to continue investigating.

In this example, when you consider the monthly principal reduction, the monthly appreciation and the tax savings, even with money added for monthly maintenance, the net cost of housing is less than half the total house payment.

Considering all those advantages, the would-be buyer is spending over $1,100 per month more to rent than it would be to own. In a year’s time, they would lose close to $14,000 which is more than the down payment of $8,750 required on this price home.

Most would-be buyers understand that a home is a big investment but they may not understand the advantage of the leverage caused by the low down payment mortgage. The benefits extend beyond a return on the down payment but to the value of the home.

In this example, the $8,750 down payment grows to an equity of $73,546 in seven years based on 2% annual appreciation and normal amortization on a 30-year loan. If you calculated that as a rate of return, you’d be challenged to find anything that could compare with it.

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To see what your numbers might look like, check out this Rent vs. Own. If you need any help or have any questions, contact us. Part of our greatest satisfaction is helping would-be buyers understand why they should-be.