Home Improvement Projects and Upgrades for Winter

Winter is upon. Now that the temperature has dropped below freezing in most parts of the country, homeowners have no choice but to stay home and crank up the heat. While there is nothing we can do about the winter weather, there are steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient while keeping it warm all winter long.

Here are some home improvement projects you can do to make your home more comfortable and cozy. These projects can help you save money and energy this winter.

Replace outdated furnace

The average life span of a furnace is approximately 15 years. Because a new furnace can be quite expensive, most people wait until their furnace reaches the end of its life before getting a new one.

If your furnace is about to more than 12 years old, we recommend that you begin shopping for a new one. It may still be working, but it is likely that your heating bills are higher than they need to be. Older models are usually more expensive to operate since they use a lot of electricity to heat a home. New units are more energy efficient; hence, allowing you to save money in the long run.

Install a programmable thermostat

Heating your home can be quite expensive. Nothing can be more frustrated than paying for wasted energy. In order to save money, we suggest that you turn the temperature up by a few degrees before leaving the house or before going to bed. You can turn up the heat once again upon waking up in the morning and when you come home at night. This works, however, if you remember to do so.

For your convenience, consider installing a programmable thermostat. With this gadget, you don’t have to turn the heat up and down manually. Plus, you are likely to save 3% on your bill with each degree you turn down the heat.

Insulate your water heater

Water heating accounts for 13% of your home’s total energy cost. This is because your water heater works constantly to keep water hot and ready whenever you need it. To make your water heater more energy efficient, consider adding a thick blanket or insulation around your water heater. This will help you save money and energy, not only during the winter but throughout the year.

Tips to Prepare Your Home for a Safe Halloween

Halloween is a night of trick-or-treating, spooky thrills, costumes and fun. It is no doubt a fun time for all. But did you ever think about the safety of your home and the kids while trick-or-treating at your house?

Don’t let Halloween become scarier than it is. Use these tips to keep your family, your home and trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween.

Light up

A dimly lit entryway may deter trick-or-treaters from banging through your door, but it may encourage burglars to target your home.

Turn the lights on. This will not only keep thieves, tricksters or vandals from getting access to your home or yard; it also keeps children from getting injured on the way to your front door.

Practice indoor fire safety

Lit candles or luminaries may add a spooky glow to your home, but these may also start a fire in your home. Make sure that candles are placed at a safe distance away from paper decorations, cloths and other materials that may easily catch fire. Most importantly, extinguish the fire before going to sleep or going out of the house. Or better yet, avoid using candles altogether. Rather, use ones that are powered by batteries.

Clear a path

It won’t be long before you’ll be greeted by little goblins, ghosts, vampires, and superheroes. These little ones are often busy with their chocolates and candies; they don’t pay attention to where they’re going. As such, it is important that you clear your walkways and ensure that it is free from tripping hazards.

Beware of thieves and burglars

Every year, thousands of homes become prime targets for burglars and thieves. This gives them an opportunity to check out your house without bringing suspicion.

Never leave your front door open. Never let anyone into your home, even if they say it’s an emergency. If you won’t be around during the Halloween, lock all doors and windows in the house and don’t forget to turn on the lights. They are less likely to target your home if it’s lit up both inside and out.

Common Moving Day Nightmares and How to Avoid Them

movingSpring and summer is the busiest time of the year for real estate. If you do drive around your neighborhood, you may notice some big trucks, moving vans and small U-hauls. People want to move and settle into their new house before the school year starts.

Moving into a new house can be exciting and stress-inducing at the same time. When people were asked to identify one stressful event in their life, moving was included in the top 10. Yes, it can be stressful and exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

In the hopes of helping your move go smoothly , we have listed down some of the most common moving nightmares people face, along with some suggestions on what to do if you find yourself in these situations.

It’s raining on moving day

So you wake up on moving and realize that it’s raining hard. Not only does it make moving large boxes difficult, it can also be hazardous. As a safety precaution, be sure to wear shoes with good grip like sneaker or gum boots. Also, protect your belongings by wrapping loose items in garbage bags, shopping bags or cling wrap.

Your fragile items broke

There is nothing more frustrating than knowing that your things got lost, damaged or broken. While professional movers try to handle your boxes with utmost care, accidents can happen during transit. When packing your things, make sure they are secured and protected. Also, look for a moving company that offers insurance.

You got sick on moving day

Moving involves a long list of tasks. But it’s hard to be productive when you’re sick. We understand that you want to accomplish as much as you can, but please don’t overdo it. Rest whenever necessary.

If you have hired a moving company, then let them take care of all the heavy lifting and loading. Trust that your movers will take good care of your stuff. Just sit back and let them do their thing.

 

Red Flags to Watch Out for When Buying a House

house sale flagEvery seller wants to sell their house for the highest amount possible. If they can sell it without having to spend thousands of dollars on repair, they will. But what’s sad is that some sellers would disguise some flaws and issues. That’s why you should always keep an open eye when viewing potential properties.

If you’re not sure what to look for, then we urge you to keep reading. Watch out for these red flags when shopping for homes to save you cash and heartache.

Odors

Take a big whiff of the air inside the house. Foul and pleasant odors should both raise a red flag when looking at homes. Since sellers know that foul odors can drive potential buyers away, many of them would try to mask the smell by hanging air fresheners or lighting some candles. While this is isn’t always the case, it is something you should be aware of.

Random fresh paint

Most real estate agents would advise their clients to paint the walls before listing. Painting is a fairly inexpensive way to make the room look clean and fresh. While newly painted rooms are a common sight, watch out for homes wherein the seller chose to paint only a small portion of the wall or ceiling. The seller is probably trying to hide something like some stains due to water damage.

Foundation problems

If you notice a crack on the wall that is bigger 1/8 inch or doors that do not open or close properly, then it might be best to just walk away. Foundation problem should not be taken lightly. This will cost you thousands of dollars in corrective repairs. Plus, it can worsen over time if left unattended.

Mediocre maintenance

Living a busy life, some homeowners do not have time to clean the sidings, let alone mow the lawn. But you have to understand that taking over a poorly maintained house can lead to endless problems for you. Look for signs of deferred maintenance such as peeling paint, sagging roof, mold infestation etc.

 

Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe

door-1089560_960_720Burglary is one of the most common crimes in the country, but it’s also one of the easiest to prevent. You don’t need to install and unsightly barbed wire fence or invest in an expensive home alarm system just to keep you home safe. A few simple precautions can help keep burglars at bay.

Here are some tips on how to keep unwanted intruders out of your home.

Lock up

Open doors and windows are an open invitation to intruders. Make sure that all the windows and doors are locked before you go to bed or leave the house. Secure sliding glass doors and windows by placing a metal or a wooden bar in the bottom track so they can’t be pried open.

Conceal valuables

It can be odd to see a house that is all closed up so you may want to leave a few shades open. Now that a part of your home can be visible from the outside, it is important to keep your laptops, cell phones, flat screen TVs and other expensive stuff away from view. Leaving your valuables lying around can lure burglars into your home.

Don’t place your valuables in obvious places. Get a fake wall outlet or a hollowed out book and place some of your possessions there. This way, thieves will have a hard time looking for them if in case they get into your home.

Don’t advertise you’re away

Think twice before posting about your vacation plans on social media. We understand that you’re excited about this trip, but there is no need to announce it to the world.

Ask a friend to look after your house

Instead of creating the appearance of an occupied home, why don’t you just ask a friend or a neighbour to check on your home every now and then? Give this person a key so that he or she can water your plants, feed your dog or bring in the mail.

House keys

Keep your keys out of sight and bring it with every time you leave. Never leave a spare key in the flowerpots, mailbox or under the doormat.

New Year’s Resolutions Homeowners Should Make

ResolutionsResolutions and promises abound when the New Year arrives. Almost everyone promises to exercise more, eat better and spend more time with family and friends. But you don’t have to limit yourselves to these things. New Year’s resolutions can also apply to your home.

If you are a homeowner or intend to be one this year, don’t forget to add these to your list. These resolutions will help you make the most of your home in the coming year.

Keep it safe

You may have a lovely home, but is it safe? Install fire and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure that you’re not living in a potential fire and health hazard. Add to that, lint is highly flammable and is one of the most common causes of residential fire. Don’t forget to clean your vents and ducts.

Radon is highly toxic and dangerous to your health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 21,000 lung cancer deaths are caused by this radioactive gas. Don’t forget to check your house for radon.

Streamline stuff

We tend to accumulate things over the years. With the constant stuffing of things in the closet, drawers and cabinets, there are times when we forget about the shirt, jacket or skirt we bought a month a ago.

Start the year right by getting rid of the stuff you no longer need. You can sell them online or donate them to charity. Also, keep your home clean and organized by applying this old adage – out with the old and in with the new.

Cut your energy use

Your house is a glutton. It gobbles up energy like a starving elephant. That said, you should take steps to cut your energy use. Turn your heater down to 55 degrees when you leave the house. Switch off the lights when not in use. Make sure that the dishwasher and washing machine is full before you run them.

Stay on top of your bills

If you have missed payment in the past, try to make an effort to pay your bills on time. This is especially important for those with a mortgage. This will not only save you a lot of stress in the future, it will also help boost your credit score.

 

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling

SnowShoveling_1.5During this time of the year, thousands and thousands of people from different parts of the country are shoveling snow to clear their driveways and sidewalks. Let me tell you, snow shovelling is no joke. It is a back-breaking, tiresome experience. All that bending and heavy lifting can put excessive stress on your back; thus, resulting in muscle fatigue and back strain.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 118,000 individuals were treated in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms for injuries related to snow shovelling in 2014. There are some steps you can take to prevent injuries when shovelling snow.

Here are some tips to help you get the job done safely.

Warm up

If you’re in poor physical shape or you don’t exercise often, your chances of sustaining strains, back injuries and muscle pulls are very high. Take a few minutes to warm up before you start shoveling. Perform light exercises and some stretching exercises to loosen those tight muscles. Remember, shoveling may be one of the most physically challenging activities you’ll face this year. You need to prepare for it.

Dress for the job

It may be cold outside, but you’ll start sweating after a few minutes of digging. That said, we suggest that you wear light, layered clothing so you can peel a layer off if you feel hot. Also wear boots that have slip-resistant soles to avoid slips and falls.

Take frequent breaks

Snow shoveling is strenuous work. Allow yourself to take a break from time to time. Stand up straight and walk around for a few minutes. Also, don’t forget to drink lots of water.

Start early

It is always best to start clearing the snow early and often. It will be a lot easier to shovel large amount of snow in multiple phases than doing it all at once. Instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling, it is best to clear it every few inches.

 

Cleaning Up After the Holidays

DPG_CleaningUp 12.29We all look forward to the holidays. It’s the time of the year when we enjoy the company of our family and friends, indulge on delicious meals and see the joy in the children’s faces as they unwrap the gifts. But now that all your guests have left, that seasonal glow can quickly fade, especially when you’re faced with the aftermath.

Get up off the couch, start cleaning and have a fresh, clean home in time for the New Year. Here are some tips for cleaning after the holidays.

Get one, toss two

You probably received some amazing gifts this Christmas. That’s great. Now comes the hard part. Where are you going to place all these new items?

January is a great time to start fresh and promote a clean home. Use this time to get rid of things you no longer need. For every new gift you receive, try to get rid of 2 items. So for every new toy your child receives, donate 2 toys to the local charity. This simple step will not only help your organize your home, you’ll also make 2 kids happy.

Organize your ornaments

Taking down the Christmas tree and stashing the lights and ornaments is the most laborious task to holiday cleaning. Wanting to get everything done, most people would throw the decorations in random boxes and store them in the basement. This, unfortunately, results in broken decorations.

Loop Christmas lights in paper towel tubes or gift wrap tubes to keep them from tangling. Also, wrap ornaments in wrapping and tissue paper instead of tossing them back into their boxes. Carefully store your decorations so you won’t have a hard time unpacking them when you set up next Christmas.

Clean up the trash

After the holidays, you may find wrapping paper and empty gift boxes all over the living room. Have a big stash box, instead of a garbage bag, and ask everyone to toss all their trash inside. Be sure to place it near the Christmas tree so it would be easier for the kids to throw their trash. Another tip, try to wrap the sides of the box so it looks perfectly at home around the gifts.

 

Tips to Prevent Accidents at Home During the Holidays

dpg_accidentsThe holiday season is a fun time for everyone. However, the opportunities for accidents are many during this time of the year. Youngsters are playing with all sorts of unfamiliar toys. One family member is slaving over the stove for a few hours; while the other is perched on a ladder, trying to hang festive lights on the home’s exterior. Let’s not forget the huge, flammable tree in the living room.

No one wants to spend the holidays in an ER due to an avoidable accident. Here are some safety tips to prevent accidents and injuries during the holidays.

Deck the halls safely

According to a study that was conducted by the Center for Disease Control, nearly 8 million people are injured due to falls every year. The number of accidents increases during the holiday season, and the majority of them are associated with holiday decorating.

To keep yourself from becoming a statistic, seek help from someone when using ladder. Have a family member or a friend hold the ladder steady when decorating in high places. Also, make sure you are stepping on a flat, stable surface.

Fire prevention

A dried out Christmas tree is fire hazard. It should be removed from your home immediately after it starts dropping needles.  Also, your tree should not be placed within 3 feet of any heat sources like lights, fireplaces, candles and heat vents.

If you are to light some candles, it is important that you place them on a flat, stable surface. Blow them out if you aren’t going to be in the room where they are burning. Never let candles burn unattended.

Electrical safety

Examine your decorative lights for frayed wires and loose connections. It is best to invest in a new set if anything looks amiss. Don’t forget to turn off all the lights, including the holiday lights before leaving your home or going to bed.