Ideas for Home Efficiency

Many homeowners want to save on their energy bills. There are plenty of easy ways to save that won’t cause any huge changes in lifestyle. The easiest way is to make your home more efficient. So here are some ideas for home efficiency that will help you save energy!

Landscape to Save Energy
Believe it or not, landscaping can help you save on your energy bills. Be smart with landscaping and make sure to plant trees on the south and west sides of your home. When fully grown, the trees will provide much needed shade in the summer but also provide sun in the winter through the bare branches. However, don’t forget to maintain landscaping so your trees don’t become a liability in winter. Also, when planting use low-maintenance plants that are native to the area. This will cut down on water usage, making your home more efficient.

Add or Use Ceiling Fans
If you have ceiling fans great! Use them to your advantage to save energy and make your home more efficient. Ceiling fans use about the same amount of energy as a light bulb, making them less expensive than running your cooling or heating system. You’ll want to change the rotation of your fans depending on the seasons. During winter switch your fan blades to spin clockwise to help push the hot air down from the ceiling. During the summer switch the blades to counterclockwise to push cool air down. By doing this you can save up to 10% on your heating bill in the winter and possibly 40% in the summer!

Modify Your Most Used Lighting
Think about the five most used lights and rooms in your house. Change out any light bulbs that aren’t energy efficient and you could save up to 60 dollars a year. Most of the time the most used rooms and light fixtures tend to be outdoor lamps, kitchen fixtures, bathroom vanities, and the living room. So you can start in these rooms and convert older incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs to energy efficient LED bulbs. Once they’re replaced, start thinking about replacing the other lighting used in your house.

Wash with Cold Water
You can ignore the myth that you need to use hot water for whites. Instead use cold water and cold-water detergent to start saving. Also, when you go to dry your clothes use your dryers full load capacity.

Air Dry Dishes
Many dishwashers have a heat drying settings that dry your dishes without the maintenance of hand drying. Even though that’s extremely helpful, it isn’t efficient. Instead empty out your dishwasher and let your dishes air-dry. It might not be maintenance free, but it definitely is low-maintenance and efficient!

Match Your Pans to Your Burner
Most people don’t think about this, but when your pan doesn’t match the size of your burner you can lose a huge amount of the burners heat. So if you have an eight-inch burner, make sure to use an eight-inch pan.

Use Window Treatments
You might have installed them for decor purposes only, but you can use your window treatments to make your home more energy efficient! During the summer they can help keep unwanted heat out when you shut them. During the winter they can help keep the heat in. So stop looking at your window treatments as decor and utilize them to their full potential to help you save energy!

10 Easy Tips to Help Organize Your Home

Contents of an office drawer.

1. Have a designated junk drawer, and KEEP IT CLEAN
Having a junk drawer is very helpful for miscellaneous items found around the house that you don’t want to throw out quite yet. However, if left unattended, the junk drawer can become more of a nuisance rather than a convenience. To avoid this, make sure to go through the junk drawer every now and then to determine what needs to be thrown out and what can be kept around.

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2. Use Pegboards
If your cabinets are too cluttered, grab a painted pegboard from your local hardware store, loop in metal hooks, and violà! You have a new stylish and convenient way to store your kitchen-ware.

Neatly organized womens clothing in white cubicles

3. Color Coordinating
Assigning everyone in your home a color for things like their toothbrush, towels, sheets, and laundry hamper can make clean up much easier. This simple solution makes it easier for everyone to find their things, and more importantly, put them away.

breddbag

4. Bread Bag Tags Transformed into Helpful Labels
For organizing those pesky cords that inevitably get tangled up behind your TV set, save the tags from bread bags and use them as creative labels. With a label at the plug, you’ll always know which wire is where and how to get at the right one.

cardbort

5. Cardboard Dividers
Dividing dresser drawers with a few pieces of cardboard is a cheap, simple, and easy, way to designate what goes where in your dresser to avoid clutter, and so you can find what you need without rifling through your entire wardrobe.

wirack

6. Use the Space Underneath Shelves
Using an under-shelf wire rack can be very useful when trying to use all of your space efficiently. Often times shelves are left half empty because what you’ve stored only stacks so high. Well with this new addition, you’ll get twice as much use out of the same shelf.

entry

7. Have a Cleared and Organized Entryway
Having a clear and organized entrance to your house sets a nice tone for you and your guests. Ideas for organizing your entryway could include a designated shoe-box, one long enough for shoes to be lined up next to each other, NOT on top of one another. Another easy idea is putting initials above or next to the hooks for clothes, so that everyone in your home has their own space to use and be responsible for.

keyjawn

8. Have a Place for Your Keys
Think about how many times you’ve searched all over the house for your keys. Keys are often strewn around the house without regard for when you’ll need them later. Creating a convenient, and visually pleasing, place for your keys, makes for a much easier time getting ready in the morning. Instead of searching and starting your day on a stressful note, have a cute system you like, it could be a specific bowl for keys, or some makeshift hanger like the one pictured above.

magazine

9. Magazine Holder Turned Shelf
If you have an old magazine holder around your house that doesn’t get much use, or if you just want a creative shelf, this DIY shelf is a perfect solution. All you need is a corner, a magazine holder, and screws or nails. In just a few minutes, what once was a useless corner in your home transforms into a convenient storage space in a matter of minutes.

heel to

10. Take on the Closet
While it might seem daunting, tackling the clutter we all have in our closets, when done correctly, is extremely rewarding. Some steps to de-clutter your closet we suggest is using a shoe-holder as storage space for bulky clothing. If you’re someone who loves their shoes and it’s evident by how much room they take up, try storing them facing opposite directions. With the right’s toe point to the back of the wall, and the heel facing the front of the closet. Or vice versa! This simple trick saves a surprising amount of space.

Tips to Make Spring Cleaning Easier this Year

Example of desk clutter with haphazardly arranged, overstuffed file folders in a rack on a messy desk in a cluttered room. Canon EOS 5DIII, 35mm

Keep only the Essentials

During spring cleaning you’ll likely be throwing out a LOT of useless stuff you never knew you had in your home. For some it’s easy to get rid of clutter, for others, it’s more difficult because “But what if I need this later?” We all understand the hesitation, but still urge you to try to throw away anything that isn’t absolutely essential.

Vacuum Job

Don’t Forget About the Small Stuff

While we love to focus on rooms and parts of the house as a whole, we often forget about small important places to clean. When you’re in the kitchen cleaning, don’t forget about the fridge. Of course the inside, but also the top of the fridge, along with the crevices behind and to the sides of it. Remember to dust the blades of ceiling fans, along with the inside and outside of lampshades.

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Clean Your Cleaners

Before you start in on the dirt clutter and grime we all have in our houses, it’s important to check that your cleaners are clean! Go through your brooms and make sure their bristles aren’t too dirty or bundled up. Take a look at your vacuum cleaner and ask yourself, “when was the last time that thing was cleaned?” If, like most of us, you can’t think of a time, then now is the time. Empty out that bag, replace it with a new one, clean the filters, even replace if need be. Trim those bristles that have clumped together, or if it’s too far gone, purchase a new one.

Young woman reaching under a sofa to get at some dust

Clean the WHOLE Bed

It may seem daunting but cleaning your whole bed (yes that includes pillows and comforter) but it’s something that usually only needs to be done a few times a year, so why not kick off Spring cleaning with it.

A family's mudroom in winter filled with warm clothing, ice skates, and snow shovel.

Stop Clutter at the Front Door

Putting a shoe rack and hanging rack for shoes and jackets can prevent a lot of clutter from building up in your home. Stopping clutter at the door indirectly cleans the rest of the house for you, and keeps everything you might need in one place.

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

 

iStock_000064841963_SmallHomes need to be maintained between each season, even the switch to the warmer spring season. Harsh winters can cause damage that you should check for, and there’s also small tasks to complete to assure that your home stays running smoothly and looking its best! Check out these home maintenance tips to know exactly where to start when preparing your home for the spring:

1. Clean your gutters
if you haven’t done so already to make sure they are working properly before all the April/May rain comes in. You need them to be able to handle any rain that comes in to carry it down and away from your home.

2. Re-caulk windows that need it. Harsh winters can wear the caulk down, and redoing it will help keep cool air in and warm air out, which ultimately will help your air conditioner run more efficiently. This can be done on your own with ease and is worth it!

3. Pack soil around the base of your home so water will run out and away from it rather than puddling right by your home, which could cause damage

4. Clean out the air conditioner before you start using it. It hasn’t been too warm out yet this season, and definitely not consistently, so it’s not too late to do this! Cleaning it will help it run better and allows you to check for any damage as well.

5. Tis the season for outdoor water sources, so check that your hose and outdoor water systems are running properly and no dry rot or winter damage has formed.

6. Replace outdoor lighting such as porch and flood lights. You will be using them much more during the spring and summer than you did in the winter, so you might as well make sure they are in good shape. Check that the wires are damage free and the bulbs are changed and working.

7. Check the attic after the winter for any signs of rodents such as chewing marks or holes as well as for mold. Address both of these issues immediately if you find signs of them to prevent any further damage.

8. Inspect the roof for any damage, which can be done by a quick scan from the ground. No need to go on the roof, and if you see a problem, call a professional to take a look. This will prevent leaks and other possible problems from occurring.

9. Look for rotting wood around windows and door frames and repair if needed. This will seal up drafts and keep out pests, not to mention maintain proper support to your home.

These simple home maintenance tips can be done by anyone and will get your home in great shape for the rest of the season! It’s very important to keep up on home maintenance to avoid any long term problems.

Energy Efficient Home Features

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SAVE on digital room thermostat wearing woolly hat

Having the most energy efficient home possible is a top priority to not only have a better living experience, but also to save money. Here are energy efficient home improvements to upgrade your current home or look out for them when searching for your new home:

1. Programmable thermostats are a great energy and money saver. It’s generally a more accurate thermostat and you can set up a schedule to change the temperature on its own from day to night.

2. Tankless water heaters saves users about 20% of their water bill! They never run out of hot water and also last 5 to 10 years longer than tank heaters.

3. When it’s not too hot out, using ceiling fans instead of your air conditioning can end up saving you some money and still keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

4. Insulated homes keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and reduces both costs by 20%.

5. Low flow faucet fixtures save water as well as the money in your wallet. It reduces water consumption by about 50% and can save you up to $145 a year.

Owners Focusing on Home Improvement

 

remodelingHome owners are expected to increase their home improvement spending expenses in the next year and recent increases in home equity are partially behind that expected flow. Also, an increase in recent home sales activity is a good sign for the home improvement market, since recent home buyers usually spend about a third more on home improvements than non-movers, even when controlling for age or income differences, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies’ Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity.

The LIRA projects annual spending growth from home improvements is expected to increase 4 percent by the first quarter of 2016. The predicted flow of remodeling in the coming years is driven by a rising number of older adults who will want to outfit their homes with more age-in-place home features as well as projects stimulated by an aging housing stock.

LIRA