For Homeowners

Utility Bill Busters – 11 Unique Things Homeowners Can To Today To Save Money!

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There are some things that can be done to reduce your utility bills and also extend the life of some of your home’s equipment. These tips can even help create better cooling and heating in your home. With the average annual yearly spend of over $3,500, wouldn’t it be nice to reduce some of this spend and still have a comfortable home? Many folks think they cannot do anything to manage their utility bill. Or they think they know exactly what to do but may not have thought of these additional tips. 

Landscaping can Make a Difference

Managing your landscape can actually effect your utility bill. Try trimming back bushes around your HVAC equipment. Or resetting your sprinklers for a more focused watering approach. By resetting your sprinklers to run for shorter periods of time you can reduce your water consumption and your utility bill.

Standard Home Maintenance can Help

Regularly checking your HVAC equipment and checking windows around your home for any broken seals can help manage your energy consumption. If your equipment is not working properly than you need to resolve it to manage your bills. If you have broken seals, your air conditioning unit will work harder by cooling the outside where these areas are exposed.

Read on for more tips on how to reduce your consumption and therefore lower your utility bills to save money!

 

Posted on HomeZada

The Ultimate Guide to Funky Home Smells

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Tim Platt/Getty Images

There are two definitions of funky: 1) something that’s cool, and 2) something that smells bad. For our purposes, we’ll be talking about the latter—and the tragic consequences if this stench is emanating from your home.

The problem is, you may be so accustomed to your home’s smell that you don’t even notice when your guests are knocked off their feet when they enter your home. And whether you’re just entertaining or are hoping to sell your home, off-putting smells can be a huge turnoff, even if your home is immaculate otherwise. To help, here’s your ultimate guide to all the odors that can assail your home and how to get rid of them once and for all.

Rotten food

Cause: Your refrigerator and garbage disposal are basically burping up decaying food.

What to do: Purge your refrigerator on a regular basis, and clean the shelves and drawers to remove rotten spilled liquid. Yes, this is gross. Do it.

“Use distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and a microfiber cloth,” says cleaning expert Leslie Reichert. To rid your sink of stink, clear rotting food from the blades of your garbage disposal by putting ice cubes down it with some salt and frozen lemon peels.

Animal odors

Cause: The most common nose-crinkling smells in a home are caused by the furry friends that live with us, usually because they don’t always relieve themselves where they should. Odors can also be due to a lingering stench on animal fur, says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

What to do: If a cat or dog uses a carpet as a toilet, use a pet enzyme removal product such as Resolve on the offending area to remove all trace of the scent and find an effective way to deter your pet from a repeat performance in a spot it may consider its own.

For litter boxes, sprinkling a bit of baking soda can work wonders. If shedding is your nemesis, vacuuming the fur (off the floor and furniture) and spot-deodorizing should do the trick.

If all of the above do not work, removal of the offending furniture or rug is often the only way to resolve the issue, says Lesh.

Smelly carpets

Cause: Think of carpets as large sponges that absorb all the smells in your home—from pet odors to sweaty feet to pungent cooking, and beyond.

What to do: For large olfactory challenges, call in a steam cleaner. For smaller yet troublesome areas, put some cheap vodka in a spray bottle and lightly mist the carpeting.

“When the vodka evaporates, it will take the smells with it,” Reichert says.

Stinky AC

Cause: Your air conditioner dehumidifies the air as it cools, but stagnant water can collect in an AC unit, allowing mold and mildew to grow in the lingering moisture. This can result in a smell similar to sweaty extremities wafting from air vents, says Richard Ciresi, a multiple-unit franchisee of Aire Serv in Louisville, KY. And, in addition, if someone in your home smokes, the fumes can get pulled into the condenser coil and recycled into your home every time you run the AC, says Ciresi.

What to do: A quick cleaning and repair to help excess water drain properly should remedy a mildew issue. Since a dirty filter can also harbor mold growth, replace filters regularly. To banish  lingering smoke smells, clean the coil.

Mustiness

Cause: Water’s the culprit! “Basement smell” can severely affect the structural integrity of your home as well as your health. Although water can accumulate anywhere, areas where dampness tends to hide include the attic, basement, and bathrooms.

“If you have a water leak behind a wall or under a floor, wood rot may occur along with mold and mildew odors,” says Lesh.

What to do: Finding small leaks early can help prevent serious water damage and offending stenches.

“I recommend looking at the underside of the attic roof at least twice a year or after heavy rain/snowfall in the spring,” says Lesh. In a basement or crawl space, water accumulation is often caused by poor drainage from the roof. Keep your gutters clean and the downspouts flowing away from the foundation. And always dry out damp areas with a humidifier.

Burnt … something

Cause: You may smell a truly weird odor the first time you fire up your furnace in the fall. But relax, it’s typically from the accumulated dirt that falls into the floor ducts, says Lesh. This scent may permeate the entire house for a while when the debris first heats up.

What to do: Simple—clean the ducts before you turn your heat on each year.

A general stale scent

Cause: Stagnant air holds on to dust, dander, and dust mites.

“This usually happens in the summer and winter as we all keep our homes closed up because of air conditioning and heating,” says Reichert.

What to do: You can battle stale air just by opening a few windows once a week to increase air flow.

“Your home needs to have the air exchanged; and if you open some windows, you allow fresh air into the house and remove those stale odors,” says Reichert.

 

Posted by Margaret Heidenry on realtor.com

The Impact of Homeownership on Family Health

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The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:

“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.”

Today, we want to cover the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on the health of family members. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:

  • There is a strong positive relationship between living in poor housing and a range of health problems, including respiratory conditions such as asthma, exposure to toxic substances, injuries and mental health. Homes of owners are generally in better condition than those of renters.
  • Findings reveal that increases in housing wealth were associated with better health outcomes for homeowners.
  • Low-income people who recently became homeowners reported higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and higher perceived control over their lives.
  • Homeowners report higher self-esteem and happiness than renters. For example, homeowners are more likely to believe that they can do things as well as anyone else, and they report higher self-ratings on their physical health even after controlling for age and socioeconomic factors.
  • Renters who become homeowners not only experience a significant increase in housing satisfaction but also obtain a higher satisfaction even in the same home in which they resided as renters.
  • Social mobility variables, such as the family financial situation and housing tenure during childhood and adulthood, impacted one’s self-rated health.
  • Homeowners have a significant health advantage over renters, on average. Homeowners are 2.5 percent more likely to have good health. When adjusting for an array of demographic, socioeconomic, and housing–related characteristics, the homeowner advantage is even larger at 3.1 percent.

Bottom Line

People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. As we can see, there are also social benefits of owning your own home.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Fix Up Your Home Like a Flipper

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Flipping homes is a thrill, but don’t forget your own home’s potential. Enjoy that new-home feeling again with these simple tips.

If you’re anything like me, you may find that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of flipping houses. I’ll admit — buying an old house, fixing it up, and flipping it for a profit is pretty exciting. But if you get too distracted by flipping houses, it’s easy to let your own home fall by the wayside.

While profitable remodeling projects can be more tempting to work on, you can still benefit from tackling projects in your own home. Remodeling your home will not only up its value, but also improve the way you feel about it. After all, who wouldn’t love to cook in a newly remodeled kitchen?

Here are five easy, inexpensive projects that will really make a difference in how you feel about your home.

Add a new coat of paint

Whether you decide to paint your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom (or all three!), a coat of paint can instantly transform the look and feel of a room. The best part about painting your own home is that you don’t have to stick to neutrals, because you aren’t trying to attract any buyers.

If you’ve been dying to paint your kitchen red or your bathroom blue, then do it! This is your chance to paint your home the colors that make you happy.

Refresh your kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in a home, so it should be one of the first rooms you remodel. And unless you moved into a brand-new home where you were able to design your kitchen from scratch, chances are there are a few things you’ve been eager to change.

If you’re lucky enough to have nice wood cabinets, don’t worry about replacing them. A splash of paint and some new hardware can work wonders and make your kitchen look brand new, without having to spend hundreds on new cabinets.

The same goes for laminate or wood countertops. There are plenty of DIY kits you can buy to transform your countertops for a fraction of the cost.

A new backsplash is also an inexpensive way to add some life to your kitchen — plus it’s a cinch to install.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Install new doorknobs, faucets, and light fixtures

While they are probably the easiest feature to overlook, new doorknobs and fixtures can make a huge difference in a room. Depending on the type of doorknobs you purchase, and considering that most homes have quite a few knobs, the price can add up pretty quickly.

If you don’t have the time or money to replace all your doorknobs at once, work on replacing just a couple every month, starting with the most obvious ones.

Faucets can get pretty expensive as well, especially if you want to replace them in both your kitchen and bathroom(s). If you want to save some money, I recommend searching online or heading to the clearance section of your local home improvement store.

If you’re lucky, you can find great deals on some beautiful faucets. Replacing all your faucets at once might not be feasible, so don’t be afraid to take your time with this project. Before you know it, you’ll be able to enjoy the luxury of attractive faucets in all your rooms.

As for light fixtures, you may already have fixtures that you like, but they just need a color update. Instead of buying new fixtures, grab a can of spray paint and go to town. It’s amazing what a difference a $3 can of spray paint can make!

Revive your bathroom

A coat of paint, wainscoting, and a fresh shower curtain and linens are all super easy ways to instantly transform your old and tired bathroom.

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you could even replace the flooring or change up the vanity. Getting ready in the mornings will be that much more enjoyable if you can do so in a beautiful bathroom.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Boost your curb appeal

While it’s always satisfying to remodel the interior of your home, you don’t want to forget about the exterior. Fortunately, there are a couple of simple changes you can make to really boost your home’s curb appeal.

If you can’t afford to replace the front door, try painting it instead. A new porch light fixture, house numbers, and a mailbox can also make a huge difference for your home’s exterior.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to stop coming up with excuses. Go fix up those kitchen cabinets that you’ve hated since you moved in!

 

Posted by Christina El Moussa on Zillow

The Impact of Homeownership on Educational Achievement

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The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:

“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.”

Today, we want to cover the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on educational achievement. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:

  • The decision to stay in school by teenage students is higher for those raised by home-owning parents compared to those in renter households.
  • Parental homeownership in low-income neighborhoods has a positive impact on high school graduation.
  • Though homeownership raises educational outcomes for children, neighborhood stability may have further enhanced the positive outcome.
  • Children of homeowners tend to have higher levels of achievement in math and reading and fewer behavioral problems.
  • Educational opportunities are more prevalent in neighborhoods with high rates of homeownership and community involvement.
  • The average child of homeowners is significantly more likely to achieve a higher level of education and, thereby, a higher level of earnings.

Bottom Line

People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. As we can see, there are also social benefits of owning your own home.

*The next two Thursdays, we will report the study’s findings on the impact homeownership has on civic participation and a family’s health.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

8 High-Tech Features to Include in Your Next Remodel

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You’ve torn out the old carpet and replaced the kitchen cabinets, and your renovation is almost complete. Before you put everything back together, consider including some high-tech features on your list of remodeling must-haves. Adding a few new smart devices is a cinch when you’re in the process of remodeling—why not make a little room in the budget for something that can make your life easier and help cut down on expenses overall?

Here are eight of the coolest smart devices to include in your home remodel.

Fictive application controlling the modern house
Fictive application controlling the modern house

1. Nest Cam

With its wide range of consumer-friendly smart products, Nest has made a big name for itself in the smart home industry—and this powerful little camera is one of the main reasons why. The Nest Cam records in crystal-clear 1080p resolution and streams 24/7, so you’ll never miss a thing. The Nest Cam Indoor also comes equipped with a speaker and a mic and will alert you if you’re not at home and it detects motion or conspicuous noises.

2. Philips Hue

Philips Hue LED lightbulbs are smart and energy-efficient, allowing you to control the lighting in your home while cutting energy costs. There are 16 million colors and a variety of smart controls to choose from, making your lighting system as subtle or dramatic as you’d like. Sync your lights with movies or music, set the ambience for concentration, or create a gentle morning lighting routine. With the Philips Hue Bridge, you can link up to 50 lights and other accessories, making a completely customizable lighting experience.

3. Vivint Doorbell Camera

Vivint’s sleek Doorbell Camera lets you see who’s at your door no matter where you are. With a 180-degree look at your porch and night-vision capabilities, you always have a clear view. The Vivint Sky app will send you a notification whenever someone rings the bell and allows you to turn the camera on and off and adjust your doorbell chime. You can also lock and unlock the door remotely, and speak to friends and strangers through the doorbell.

4. Chamberlain MyQ Garage Door Opener

The Chamberlain garage door opener connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network and allows you to open and close your garage door from anywhere. Chamberlain says it’s compatible with any garage door opener made after 1993: the only requirement is that it must include safety sensors at the bottom of the track. And prepare yourself—CNET called it a “smart-home gateway drug.”

5. August Smart Lock

August’s Smart Lock replaces the interior side of your deadbolt (so it doesn’t throw off the look from the outside), granting you the ability to lock and unlock your door with your smartphone. The Smart Lock doesn’t stop there, though. You can create virtual keys for your family and friends, granting them access as well. The August Home app will even auto-lock the door behind you and unlock the door for you as you approach—you don’t have to do a thing.

6. Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest’s Learning Thermostat learns your patterns as you use it—within a week it will adapt to your preferred temperatures and set itself to match your preferences. If you like your home cooler at night and warmer in the morning, for example, the Learning Thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature for you. It will also adjust to an energy-saving mode when you’re not home. The company says it can pay for itself in energy savings after just two years.

7. Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator

This Energy Star-rated refrigerator does things you never knew you wanted your fridge to do. For starters, every time you close the door, three cameras take pictures of the contents inside. You can then check what’s in your fridge from your phone, so you never have to wonder what you need from the store. If you’d rather not go to the store yourself, you can place an online order using Groceries by Mastercard, one of many included apps accessible right from the touchscreen on the door. You can also sync and display calendars and photos on the screen, leave notes, stream music—even watch TV.

8. Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a 360-degree Bluetooth speaker featuring Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant. Alexa can stream music, tell you the weather, answer your questions, get traffic updates and sports scores—all the stuff you expect a voice assistant to do. The main reason it’s on this list, though, is that it can connect to a number of smart devices from other manufacturers, allowing you to control your lights, locks and thermostat with your voice.

These eight gadgets can add some serious value to your life and home. If you’re already remodeling, now’s the perfect time to try a few out and get a little taste of the future.

 

Posted by Jonathan Deesing on RISMedia’s HouseCall

The Best Time to Buy Everything for Your Home, From Linens to TV

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Calendar: bgblue/iStock; products: Amazon.com
Calendar: bgblue/iStock; products: Amazon.com

If you’ve bought a home recently, odds are you aren’t rolling in money right now. In fact, between your mortgage payments and bills for repairs and much-needed upgrades, your coffers might be pretty bare—which is a shame, since part of the fun of owning a home is furnishing it. Right?

But even if money is tight, that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge a little—especially if you time your purchases right. There are good (read: cheaper) times to buy certain items and not such good times. Know thy difference! All you need is a little patience and the ability to curb your I-want-it-NOW instincts to save big bucks on everything from televisions to carpeting and tools.

Here’s your month-by-month guide on what to buy when you want to save big.

Linens: January

Find deep discounts on bedding, bath towels, linens, and other related products during January “White Sales,” with closeout prices both online and in stores. And don’t worry, other colors will be discounted, too; it’s called this only because linens were available only in white waaaay back when this sale was invented in 1878.

You can also find deals on linens in August when students head back to college and department stores are pushing dorm room supplies.

Furniture: January and December

Looking to buy a couch, dining room set, or any other big-ticket piece of furniture? Shopping after the new year can save you some serious scratch. The reason: Designers and manufacturers release new models in February, making furniture stores eager to ditch their outdated inventory, which hogs a whole lot of floor space. That means you could save 30% to 60% on a couch. Who wouldn’t like an extra thousand or so in their pockets?

Televisions: February and November

Black Friday is a no-brainer for TV purchases, but you can also take advantage of Super Bowl frenzy in late January and February to score a great deal on a big TV.

“Sales of TVs are often at their highest around then, since consumers want to watch big games on bigger screens,” says Kendal Perez, a savings expert with CouponSherpa.com. But it’s not just Super Bowl demand that lowers the price: The latest and greatest in TV technology is unveiled at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, which drives retailers to discount older models to clear the store shelves. (Yes, stores still exist.)

Snowblowers and shovels: April and May

Don’t wait till snow falls to buy your cold-weather gear. Pick up a new snowblower and shovel in the early spring, when “they’re less in demand and retailers want more room for barbecues and patio furniture,” says Perez. You might find decent deals on Black Friday, but they likely won’t beat spring discounts.

Carpeting: May

May is the slow season for carpeting, so if you’ve been waiting to go wall to wall—or replace your worn-out shag—hit up your local carpeting center this month. Homeowners are too busy thinking about the outdoors to bother renovating their indoors, so you’re likely to find good deals on square footage.

Gardening supplies: April

Everyone’s stocking up on gardening supplies during the spring, and you’ll find big-box home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot competing for customers with amazing “Spring Black Friday” (yes, it’s a silly name) sales, usually in middle to late April.

“Expect deals like five for $10 mulch, BOGO free seed packets, and discounts on other gardening essentials,” Perez says.

Tools: June and November

Millions of wives and children seeking the perfect Father’s Day gift makes June a great month to refresh your tool collection. You’ll find dozens of sales on everything from drills to nails to saws. Black Friday is another great time to catch especially good deals on tools.

Outdoor furniture: July and August

Don’t pick up your new patio furniture at the beginning of the season—wait until late summer, when the bulk of buyers have already done their shopping and retailers are putting their inventory on deeper discounts.

Picnic and grilling supplies: August and September

You’ll find acceptable discounts on new picnic and grilling supplies in May and June, but the best deals will be found in August and September, “when retailers are pushing out inventory to make room for winter-related accessories,” says Perez. Expect savings of up to 75%—and if you need a lawn mower, pick it up at the same time to score an even better deal.

Major appliances: Holiday weekends

Retailers aren’t tricking you: Those holiday markdown sales really are the best time to buy new appliances. If you’re itching for a new fridge and Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, or any other major retail holiday is around the corner, hold your horses.

“Most holiday weekends will feature some kind of discount or special financing on large appliances,” says Perez.

Different holidays are better for different bargains. Memorial Day is best for that fridge, because new models arrive in June. Look at Labor Day and Columbus Day for washer-dryer units, dishwashers, stoves, and ranges, whose lines are often refreshed over the holiday season. But even if it’s not the “right” holiday for your must-have major appliances, still wait for the next shopping day—sales during holidays will still be better than standard prices.

Paint: Summer holidays

“Many homeowners take on paint tasks and other home improvement projects when the weather is warm,” says Perez. You might think more homeowners out to buy means prices rise, but the opposite is often true: With more competition on the market, retailers are more likely to lower prices to entice buyers. Look for paint promotions during Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends, a great time to stock up on your favorite colors.

 

Posted by Jamie Wiebe on realtor.com