Green

Increase Your Energy Efficiency in 5 simple steps

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Increase your Energy Efficiency in Four Simple Steps

Increasing your energy efficiency is a great way to cut down housing-related costs and make your home more desirable to potential homebuyers.  There are quite a number of tasks to tackle in the name of saving energy; here are four tips to get you started on increasing your energy efficiency:

Get an energy assessment. The easiest place to start is with a home energy assessment. An energy auditor will come into your home and determine the spots where your home is wasting the most energy. To find an auditor, go to resnet.us (link to: http://www.resnet.us/directory/search#), it’s highly recommended by the US Department of energy and provides a reliable and certified network of auditors in your area.

Once you’ve got your assessment, you will have a good idea of where to start. You will be able to prioritize based on what improvements are most important to you.

Find your leaks. It may seem obvious, but inspect your doors and windows for leaks. Left unchecked, they could be letting cold air seep into your house. Check these, along with attics and basements, and then get going by getting yourself some draught strips. Make sure to cut draught strips to size before placing adhesive on doors and windows. With this simple fix, you’ll be well on your way to minimizing those heating bills.

Insulate. Did you know that about half of the homes in America are under-insulated?  The type of insulation you use depends on the room, so make sure to do your research. Make sure to seal any leaks and perform necessary repairs before installing. With a little bit of research and DIY determination, insulation can keep your home cozy and energy efficient in every season.

Install a programmable thermostat. This is probably the easiest change you can make to increase your energy-efficiency. Installing a programmable thermostat can save you around 10-percent on heating and cooling bills, according to the president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

This is a no brainer for most folks, but make sure you buy a thermostat that works for your home and your schedule.  It’s worth a quick visit to your local home repair store to ensure you’re choosing the right thermostat for your home.

Now that you’re starting to see all the different ways you can increase your energy efficiency, you’re bound to find a few changes that make sense for your home. Adjustments will help to decrease your overall energy costs and make a positive impact on the environment. If you’re looking increase your energy efficiency to make your home more attractive to homebuyers, we’d love to help you discover all the ways to make your home a true standout. Contact our experts today to start the conversation.

Sources:

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/where-insulate-home

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/professional-home-energy-audits

http://mspplumbingheatingair.com/blog/3-must-know-tips-for-buying-a-programmable-thermostat

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-energy-efficient-home-improvements/1

http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/guide_to_energy_efficient_windows.pdf

 

 

 

 

Landscaping 101

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Landscaping is a great way to add value to your home while also taking advantage of unused space. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to start a vegetable garden or you need space for the kids to run around?  Whether you’re just starting out our looking for ideas to spruce up the outside of your home, we’ve got some great tips to make your next landscaping project as smooth as possible.

Prioritize wants vs. needs.  While you may want a rose garden and a fountain, you may need a sizeable place for your kids and your pets to run around in. Make a list of what you need for your backyard first.  Think about what functionally makes sense and then and then make a list of your wants – those extras that would be nice to have. Weighing the pros and cons before you ever pick up a shovel means you’re more apt to feel satisfied with the end result.

Plan it out. Once you decided on what’s necessary and what is not, make a rough outline on paper. Don’t worry about making a magnificent sketch, remember this is only meant to be a guide. After you’ve mapped out how you want your new space to look, create a to-do list and decide which project you want to start on first. This will allow you to create many small wins, ultimately adding up to a complete  yard!

Do your research. Investigate sun and wind patterns. Does the back of your house lack natural sunlight?  Once you know the sun and wind patterns you can plan around them to avoid making a rookie mistake.

Research plants  to find out how much water and sunlight they’ll need. Do you have water restrictions in your area? This will help you determine what types of plants make sense for your yard and where exactly you should plant them.

Decide what’s worth your time. Think about how much time you’re willing to invest in the upkeep of your yard. If you don’t want to devote your time to planting every year, then stick with perennials. Larger patches of grass mean more time mowing your lawn. Having a diverse backyard can definitely be rewarding, just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you go the whole nine yards.

With a little planning, you can create an outdoor space that is both functional and pleasing to the eye.

Most landscaping projects will add value to your home and are a great way to get your home ready for to sell. If you’re looking more expert ideas and assistance in getting your home ready for sale, United Real Estate can help. Contact us today to get started!

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscaping-projects/landscape-basics/landscape-design-for-beginners/

5 Easy Steps to a DIY Home Energy Audit

  • Making sure your home is well insulated can make your home more efficient - and decrease your energy costs.

    Making sure your home is well insulated can make your home more efficient - and decrease your energy costs.

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Making energy-efficient upgrades to your home is a great way to add value, but you should figure out what changes are actually necessary before you make any significant improvements. A home energy audit can give you an idea of what improvements can give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Follow these steps to conduct your own energy audit:

  1. Check for air leaks. Inspect your home for air leaks, which can waste up to 10 percent of your home’s energy. Seal any obvious leaks, such as those around windows or baseboards, with caulk or weather stripping to ensure your hot and cold air isn’t just blowing outside.
  2. Perform a pressurization test. Not every leak will be easy to find. For the smaller energy-wasters you’ll need to conduct a pressurization test.
  3. Examine your insulation. Since heating and cooling your home represents more than half of your energy expenses, adding insulation can provide a nice return on investment. Check to see whether you have adequate insulation by using a thermographic leak detector. The detector uses colors to show hot or cold spots in your home. Any irregularities could mean there’s not enough insulation.
  4. Inspect your ductwork. Make sure your heating and cooling is moving through your system as efficiently as possible. Inspect your ductwork for dirt streaks, which can be a sign of air leaks. Seal obvious problem areas with duct mastic or invest in a professional to examine the ducts more thoroughly.
  5.  Think about replacing your appliances. Calculate the energy consumption of your appliances and compare them with newer models. You may be able to save on energy costs by upgrading.

Backyard Appeal: Considering the 360-Degree Look of Your Home

  • patio

    patio

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Making sure your home has curb appeal is essential when selling it, but what about the rest of your home’s exterior? While you’re getting your home ready for the market, don’t forget about backyard appeal.

The way the sides and back of your home and property look are just as important as the way the front looks. Having an impressive front yard and entry way won’t go far if buyers are put off by the rest of your property’s appearance. In addition to keeping your backyard mowed and making sure all sides of your home’s exterior are in top condition, you can also make the following improvements:

  • Choose one type of siding: Instead of having brick or stone on the lower part of your home or just on the front, use it all the way up and on all sides.
  • Add windows: Have a couple more windows installed on the sides of your home, if possible, or have a row of windows or a large picture window installed on the back.
  • Build a covered porch: This extra porch will give your home’s backyard more appeal.

Need more help selling your homeContact United Real Estate, and follow us on Facebook.

Planning on Selling in 2015? Start Investing in Landscaping Now

  • bungalow house

    bungalow house

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If your 2015 plans include selling your home, it’s time to start getting it ready. This might seem a bit early, but it’s actually a good time for investing in landscaping.

Having some shade trees, shrubs, bushes and flowers around gives your home’s value a major boost. Since some of these, especially trees, take a long time to fully grow, it’s best to plant them as soon as possible. A landscaper can provide advice on which types of greenery to include. Having impressive landscaping improves your home’s curb appeal and gives it some functional value as well, such as providing more shade.

Investing in landscaping isn’t the only thing you should do to get your house ready to sell. Here are a couple more tips:

  • Minor kitchen renovations, such as putting a new finish on your cabinets, increase your home’s value. You’ll also recoup most of the cost.
  • Keeping your lawn healthy goes hand in hand with having beautiful landscaping. Mow and water it regularly, and consider laying down new sod or seed if your lawn’s in bad shape.

Need more advice on boosting your home’s resale value? Stop by United Real Estate and visit our Facebook page.