Archives for Home Improvement

9 Ways to Save Energy & Reduce Your Energy Costs This Summer

The heat is on St. Thomas!

It’s time to make a game plan for saving energy this summer and avoiding skyrocketing energy bills. Here are a variety of ways you can offset the season’s rising temperatures.

1. FAN YOURSELF
Buying stand, box or ceiling fans is a small investment that can reduce your energy costs. Using fans to help cool your home means you can raise the thermostat setting by 4 degrees without reducing your comfort level. Just remember to turn off the fans when you’re not in the room. They aren’t intended to cool the space — just the people in the space, via the wind chill effect.

2. OPTIMIZE YOUR THERMOSTAT SETTING
According to the Department of Energy, setting your thermostat at 78 degrees F / 25 C in the summer can save you up to 10% in energy costs each year. If 78 f / 25 C is too warm for you, you can adjust it a bit lower to be comfortable. Just remember that for every degree you raise your thermostat above 72 F / 22 C, you save up to 3% of your cooling expenses.

Consider getting aprogrammable thermostat, so you can program a warmer setting when you’re not home and automatically start cooling your home right before you get back. If you’re into technology, try a wireless remote thermostat, like the ComfortLink™ II,  that can be paired with the Nexia™ system and your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer to control your air conditioner from wherever you are.

3. UPGRADE YOUR AIR CONDITIONER AND APPLIANCES
If you’re ready to take your summer energy savings to the next level, go for a system upgrade. Heating and cooling use nearly half of the energy in your home, so investing in an energy-efficient system is a smart move that will save you money in the long run.

When you’re upgrading your air conditioner, look for Energy Star certified systems that have a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) ratings. They’ll be 15% more efficient than other models. While you’re going green, think about upgrading your entire home with Energy Star appliances. At the very least, schedule seasonal maintenance for your air conditioner and other systems, so they’re working their best.

4. GO LOW FLOW
In the summer, water usage usually increases — whether it’s watering your lawn or taking more post-swim showers. Keep outdoor watering costs down by only watering grass and plants in the early morning or at dusk, so the water doesn’t evaporate in the summer heat. Another secret to having an energy-efficient home is installing low-flow water fixtures. These work well on showerheads, toilets and even your outdoor sprinkler.

5. WASH WITH COLD WATER
Here’s a quick summertime money saver. Change up your laundry routine by only washing and rinsing your clothes with cold water. If you do it year-round, it could save you around $200 annually.

6. CLOSE THE BLINDS & CHECK YOUR SEALS
Kicking up the AC isn’t the only way to keep your home cooler in the hot summer months. Take a quick walk around the house and close all the blinds and curtains. This will keep your rooms from heating up too much and being super hard to cool with your air conditioner or fan. Another tip to keep warm air outside is to add weather stripping to your doors and windows.

7. KEEP YOUR FRIDGE COOL
Your refrigerator and freezer are essential to keeping your lemonade and popsicles cold all summer long. So, here are a few tips to save on your energy bill by maintaining your refrigerator properly. Set the thermostat between 35 and 38 degrees for the refrigerator and between 0 and 5 degrees for the freezer. Check the door seal and vacuum the coils. Make sure your fridge is always full of food (or even just jugs of water), so there’s less air space for it to have to cool.

8. RELAX AND UNPLUG
Keep your electronics from sucking up all your summer energy by unplugging your chargers, TV, computer and other small electronics when you’re not using them. It’s an easy way to save up to $100 a year, according to the Department of Energy.

9. DINE OUT
Whether you’re grilling a great meal or treating yourself to dinner at one of our great restaurants in St. Thomas Ontario (#stthomasproud), steering clear of your kitchen in the summer can reduce your energy bill. Using kitchen appliances can raise the temperature by 10 degrees. Not only will you reduce the energy you use to run those appliances, but you’ll also save on air conditioning costs to cool down your home.

Now that you’ve got a variety of energy-saving ideas that range from new habits to efficient upgrades, challenge yourself to see if you can lower your energy costs this summer. Then use those savings for a weekend vacation in the fall!

 

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Ready to Sell Your Home? 5 Steps to Prep Your House

Make your home more appealing to buyers, so you can sell faster at the right price.

Selling a house can be stressful. But if you take the time do your homework (we know, bad joke), you can quickly tackle a few improvements to make your home more appealing to buyers.

1. TALK TO A REALTOR.

Before you start making any changes to your home, consult a realtor who knows what buyers are looking for in your neighborhood.

Your realtor can give you insight into which updates will pay off and which ones are a waste of time and money.

They can also recommend preferred contractors, such as HVAC experts like US!

2. CONSIDER GETTING AN INSPECTION BEFORE LISTING YOUR HOUSE.

Inspections can help you competitively price your house and alert you to problems that require repairs or replacement. The more you know, the less there’s a chance for surprises to pop up later in the selling process. Plus, you can manage your repairs budget, instead of answering to the demands of a buyer.

PRO TIP…

Don’t be afraid to spend a little money to fix a potential dealbreaker like a leaky roof, broken window or old appliance. An example — if your inspector discovers that your air conditioner is on its last leg, consider replacing it with a more energy efficient HVAC system that could appeal to buyers and add value to your selling price.

3. MAKE A FEW COSMETIC IMPROVEMENTS.

Curb appeal matters, so invest in a handful of upgrades that’ll make your home look great. Updated kitchens and bathrooms are very important to buyers. Extensive outdoor living space also makes your home more marketable

Improving these areas could be as simple as new paint or seasonal plants. Landscaping and trimming your yard, cleaning gutters, pressure washing, neutral colored paint and a fresh welcome mat can make your home look more inviting to buyers.

4. CLEAN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM.

If you want to make your house really shine, then literally make it shine by cleaning every nook and cranny. Hire a professional window washer to let the light in and make your home look brighter. Bring in a house cleaner to make sure every spot is spotless. Find a professional organizer who can thin out your closets and clear the clutter. They can also help you figure out the best way to store your stuff while you’re staging your home for potential buyers.

 

PRO TIP…

Hit the dollar store to snag some affordable decor to freshen up your kitchen or bath. A new set of towels, shower curtain and rugs will make a big difference at your open house.

 

5. TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME.

If you can’t make all the improvements at once, it’s okay. Work with your Realtor to determine which ones will get the most bang for your buck right off the bat. Then have a plan to try different upgrades over time if your home isn’t selling. Trying doing one big repair and a few smaller cosmetic fixes to start.

Don’t forget to set aside extra money in case you need to make more improvements after the buyer’s inspection or if your home stays on the market for longer than expected.

WONDERING IF YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEM?

Give us a call and we can help you determine whether repairs or a replacement will make your home more marketable.

Phone: 519-633-5106

 

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