Green Movement: Effective Home Improvements

There are lots of reasons to remodel, renovate, or update your home. You might do so in order to eventually put your residence up for sale or you might do so in order to create a more livable place for you and yours. But one common motivation these days is the desire to be more energy efficient to reduce the end-of-month energy bill. If this strikes a chord with you, getting aboard the green movement bandwagon can bring about tangible results. So read on for effective home improvements that will allow you to live green, save money, and improve home value.

Green Movement: Effective Home Improvements

ATTIC INSULATION

While it’s not exactly the most exciting home improvement measure, adequate attic insulation will help you to keep down your heating costs during the cold weather months. If you live in an older residence, chances are that your attic does not have enough insulation…and it’s possible that it actually has no insulation at all. Have it checked and get enough insulation in your attic. This could potentially save you hundreds of bucks during the cold weather season. While you’re at it, ensure that your walls also have enough insulation.

KITCHEN

When it comes to your kitchen, there are lots of things you can do to make this popular space more energy efficient as well as eco-friendly. Depending on how extensive the remodeling, you can swap your cabinets for options that have the stamp of approval from the Forest Stewardship Council. Wood and wood products with such certification are obtained employing responsible forest management efforts, and they’re made with glues that don’t have formaldehyde. You can also get green countertops that are made from recycled or sustainable products and that are manufactured courtesy of eco-friendly methods. Among other options, you can also upgrade your kitchen with energy efficient equipment like a new fridge, freezer, or dishwasher. And don’t forget to get fluorescent lighting, which employs much less energy versus incandescent lighting.

GARDEN

While a garden might not seem to fit the theme, what better demonstrates that you’re really committed to the green movement than would developing and maintaining a wonderful garden? A garden will give your home more curb appeal in the event that you put it up for sale, make your residence a more inviting place for your family and guests to congregate, and reflect on the outside of your home what you’re hoping to accomplish on the inside of your home. Gardening is, as some put it, a lifestyle. So it’s best to do it right to get the best results.

garden

WINDOWS

According to one source, the average cost to install over 10 windows is $14,504; the average cost to replace between five and 10 windows is $4,917; and the average cost to replace under five windows is $2,219. Of course, there are various factors that come into play to determine how much it will cost. Another source notes that a typical home that opts for windows with the Energy Star rating can save between $126 and $465 annually when changing their single-pane windows. How can you tell if you need new windows? If you live in an older house, you might notice that your windows are drafty. It’s not difficult to determine if this is the case. All you’ll need to do is hold your hand up around the windows to determine if you can feel air. Should you feel air, you can save money by replacing your windows. Over time, the savings on your heating and cooling bills will exceed what you paid to buy and install your windows.

These are just a few effective home improvements you can make if you want to be part of the green movement. So live green, save money, and increase the valuation of your residence.

 

Just Like Tim Allen: How to Stay Organized & Remodel Your Home in a Timely Manner

Just Like Tim Allen: How to Stay Organized & Remodel Your Home in a Timely Manner

Remodeling your home can help you to improve its appeal and functionality, and you may eagerly be looking forward to enjoying the finished project. However, some homeowners struggle to complete this type of project in a reasonable period of time, and this can be a frustrating, stressful experience. Put these thoughtful tips to use to help you improve your overall remodeling efforts through all stages of the project.

Outline Your Project in Detail

One thing that can delay a home remodeling project is if you discover that your design plans are not well-thought out. For example, you may not think through how the color of the backsplash tile you selected would correspond with your cabinets, and this can cause you to order new tile at the last minute. Carefully plan out each aspect of your project in detail and in writing before you begin any work on the home. It is better to spend a few weeks planning than to spend a few additional weeks with your home in a state of chaos because of the remodeling efforts.

Create a Functional Budget

Another factor that can delay a project involves money. Remodeling often requires more funds than you might think, and the last thing you want to happen is to have your project delayed while you wait for more funds to become available. Create a budget up-front, and ensure that it has ample wiggle room for unplanned expenses. In addition, fund your project fully before you begin working on your home.

Order Your Materials Up-Front

Materials shortages can also throw you for a loop. Some materials that you need may be back-ordered by several weeks or more. In the case of siding and other exterior materials, this problem could leave your home vulnerable until you complete the work. Order all materials, such as those from Unique Home Solutions, up-front, and avoid starting on the project until they are on hand.

Schedule Contractors as Needed

There may be some aspects of your project that you need professional assistance with, such as plumbing or electrical work. Contractors can be booked up several weeks in advance. Therefore, plan ahead by booking services in advance, and only work with reputable contractors who you can count on to show up as scheduled.

Many factors could cause delays to your home remodeling project, and this can be a stressful experience. If you want to enjoy the best overall process and results from your remodeling efforts, employ these tips to keep the project flowing smoothly from start to finish.

A Simple Guide to Successfully Inspecting Your Own Home

A Simple Guide to Successfully Inspecting Your Own Home

Being proactive is a good policy in general. It’s especially important in home maintenance. Performing regular maintenance and catching minor repairs before they become major can keep your home and its systems in optimum condition.

How often should inspections be done? Most home repair experts suggest every six months. A Spring inspection can catch any damage done by cold and winter storms. An early Fall inspection can make sure that heat or open doors and windows haven’t done any damage. In addition, of course, frequent inspection causes any normal wear and tear that needs to be addressed.

Here’s a simple guide to home inspection.

      1.  Heating and Cooling Systems

Your heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems can be checked by careful examination of components.

First, look at the air filters. They should be cleaned or replaced regularly. If they are dusty and dirty, they definitely need to be replaced. Your system will not run at peak performance if the filters are dirty.

Second, look at your air ducts. Do you see any duct tape? Is it in good condition, or peeling and drooping? Replace it if so. Any dirt or dents can indicate problems. Look for any torn or collapsing sections if you have flexible ducts.

Third, turn on your furnace and eyeball the flames. It should be a steady blue. If you see yellow or orange flames that flicker, there may be issues with its combustion. Call a professional to resolve.

Fourth, thermostats need to be cleaned. Take the outer covering off and clean any dirt and dust with cloths or Q-tips.

If your air conditioner compressors are outside, check to see that shrubs or vines (or trees!) haven’t grown over them. If they have, they need to be cut off or they can severely impair the life and function of the unit. Make sure shrubs, vines and trees are pruned. If this looks as if it will be a chronic problem, it’s a good idea to move the landscaping to a different place.

     2.  The Water System

Check every water faucet for signs of leaks and signs of rust. Leakage can cost you in lost water, but they also lead to bigger leaks. Have them fixed at the first sign of leakage.

If you have rust or signs of rust from leaking water, such as reddish stains, have a professional inspect the pipes.

Basement converted to a gym, White Plains, NY

     3.  Attics and Basements

Attics and basements can both be subject to water damage, either from minor flooding or saturated ground in basements or roof leakage in attics. Most of this inspection can be done by carefully eyeballing your attic and basement. Do you see any sign of water damage to stored boxes, for example? Check any wood for signs of rot or water by poking with a screwdriver. Look for signs of mildew. If you see any signs that water leakage is a problem, call a professional who can find and fix the source.

Check your basement and attic for signs of pests as well. Mice, termites, ants and other pests can enter your home by crawling in from the ground through areas in the basement, or from the roof to the attic. Termites leave termite tubes, ants leave trails and mice will chew almost anything. If your insulation or stored camping food has been chewed, you may have mice.

    4.  Roofs

Roofs can lose shingles due to age or winter weather. Other materials can degrade due to the same factors. You also want to make sure that, whatever the composition of your roof, you don’t have birds or other animals nesting on it. They can cause damage that will cost you plenty to repair if the creatures aren’t proactively removed.

Inspect your roof carefully for signs of wear and tear. Roofs in the natural course of events will need to be replaced every 20 to 30 years, so be sure to keep them well maintained to ensure maximum long life.

     5.  Foundations

Look at the foundation for signs of cracks. Hairline cracks are normal, but if they become larger, it’s wise to keep an eye on them. Keep a notebook and note the size of any cracks. If they become noticeably larger at the next inspection period, call a professional for a thorough inspection.

decks and patios

     6.  Decks and Patios

Examine your deck or patio for any sign of wear and tear. Harsh weather may cause damage to either. Both decks and patios, of course, will require maintenance as time goes on. Do you need to remove any vegetation growing around or through cracks in the patio? Does your patio or deck need power washing or a sealant to look its best? Both should be part of regular maintenance. If they have not been, it may be time to institute them every six months.

     7.  Paint

The exterior of a home will need to be painted roughly every ten years. While not strictly speaking a repair, faded or peeling paint can expose your home’s materials to the elements more than if the paint were in good repair. Look at your home’s exterior with a stranger’s eye. Does it look fresh and appealing? If not, it’s time for a new paint job.

Maintaining your home well ensures that minor repairs remain minor, both in cost and in effort needed to fix them. Routine home inspections will ensure that you find any repairs that need to be made.

Author Bio:

Kacey MyaKacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

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How to Keep Rodents and Other Pests out of Your Home for Good

How to Keep Rodents and Other Pests out of Your Home for Good

If you own a home, you know how hard it can be to keep rodents and other pests out of your home, especially in certain weather conditions, such as rainstorms and cold temperatures. Though it’s impossible to totally keep pests out of your home, there are some things you can do to greatly reduce the chances that the invaders will find their way inside.

Seal up Entryways

One of the best ways to keep pests out of your home is to take away the places they use to get inside. This means you need to go over your house with a fine-toothed comb to find every little crack, slit, crevice, and hole. Start by checking around your doors, windows and utility boxes and caulk or weather strip any gaps. You also want to seal any foundation cracks or cracks in your basement floor. If you have a fireplace, have it inspected to make sure critters aren’t already using it, and have it sealed if needed. You also should check your roof vents and look in your attic to find any possible means of entry.

Don’t Invite Them In

Pests are attracted to food, so you need to make sure you are not leaving uncovered or opened food out on your counters and shelves. You also want to make sure that you are not leaving pet food or water outside for long periods of time. And, of course, you want to make sure that any trash you throw away outside is in sealed bags and that the trash can lid is firmly secured.

Take Away Their Shelter

Pests are always looking for a place to live, so you don’t want to attract them to your home by giving them one. Some companies, like American Pest Control Inc., know that keeping trees and shrubs trimmed back away from your home and cleaning up piles of branches or debris around your yard can also help. If you have a deck, don’t store anything under it that might provide a hideout.

Use Pest Treatments

In addition to all the other measures mentioned, it’s still a good idea to treat for pests to help keep them out. You can use commercial products that you can buy on your own, but if those don’t work, it’s worth it to call a pest control service.

Pests are a nuisance and can be a health hazard. Following these tips will help to keep them out of your home and keep you and your family safe.

3 Simple Steps To Motivate You To Organize Your Home

3 Simple Steps To Motivate You To Organize Your Home

Everyone wants to get organized but very few of us quite get around to it. The main reason why many people get lost in clutter within their homes is the sheer lack of motivation. An individual might spend an hour each morning looking for stuff, but they never think about organizing the space to solve that problem. If you have never been one the few who have everything in its place, here are 3 tips to motivate you to organize your home:

  1. End Results

The biggest motivation for me is thinking about the end result. A clean, fresh and attractive space is the best gift you could possibly have. In an organized home, bugs have no place and you will not be losing money on something that was lost in your clutter. An organized space gives a good impression to guests and friends.

  1. Get Inspired by the Media

To get motivated into organizing your home, try leafing through organized living magazines, newsletters, and books. You can find organization advice on just about anything from making better use of dead space in your kitchen to a closet organization system for your bedroom or pantry. This will not only give you organizing ideas but having a look at these homes will certainly trigger the desire for some order in your home. If the books and photographs do not bring any inspiration, you could watch a few programs on organizing for more realistic tips. From all the reading and watching, you will learn important organizing hacks to help make the difference. If you have much clutter to deal with, dedicate an entire weekend or week to organizing. Remove everything from a room, and have a number of categories to either keep, donate or dump. With everything in the right pile, you can clean the empty room, shelves, and cabinets accordingly. Once the room is dry, start putting everything that you decided to keep in a specific place. The lessons learned during research about organizing are motivational enough to keep things neat and tidy.

  1. Baby Steps

Start by drafting a to-do list and ensure you make organizing a daily routine. This will motivate you to do a little more cleaning, arranging or dusting every day. This action will encourage you to consistently organize your home which will come naturally no matter the day or time. There should be some must-do tasks to accomplish each day to prevent clutter from creeping back in. On days when you feel like breaking the habit, give yourself a reason to organize like inviting some friends to dinner. Since you would want to host guests in a neat and clean space, you will be inspired to clean up and organize. Make your organizing fun by playing some music, wearing comfy clothes, or rewarding yourself for tasks accomplished.

Living in an organized space is not only good for your image, but it is also a healthier and more productive choice. You will not waste time looking for things in the morning, nor will pathogens find a hideout in your home. It might take time to organize the entire house but once you get started, the rewards become simply irresistible.