Cool Energy Saving Tips

Cool Energy Savings Tips

Cool Energy Savings Tips

With the weather heating up, it’s tempting to crank up the air conditioning. Unfortunately, this will also crank up your energy bill, so follow these tips to stay cool and save money.

  1. Clean or Replace Air Conditioner Filters

Be sure your cooling system is running at peak efficiency. If your filters are dirty and blocked, you’ll be using more energy and getting less cool air. Cleaning the filters won’t only result in cleaner air, but also a more efficient system. You’ll be breathing cooler and cleaner air for less money.

  1. Keep Windows and Blinds Opened and Closed at the Right Time

Keeping the blinds and windows closed when the sun is beating down is an extremely easy way to keep your home cooler. But if you like having fresh air, try to only open windows at night or in the early morning before the heat and humidity rise. Having the windows open rather than running the A/C a no cost way to keep your home a little cooler while still enjoying the summer weather.

  1. Only Use Air Conditioning if you are Home

It might be refreshing to always come home to nice cool house, but running air conditioning 24/7 can be very expensive. Turning off the air while you’re at work will end up saving you money each month. Many thermostats have scheduling features or smart phone connectivity so you can activate air conditioning at a specific time.

  1. Use Fans to Circulate Air

Using fans to keep air moving is one of the best ways to keep cool. You’ll save energy, and be able to control the speed of the air flow. This will help cool air disperse more evenly throughout your home, and keep energy costs down. Remember to switch your fan’s direction to counterclockwise in the summer to create cool downward airflow

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Protecting Your Home While On Vacation

Protecting your home.

Protecting your home.

Vacation should be a time for relaxing, not worrying about your home. Mel Foster Co. has a few tips to help protect your home while you’re vacationing.

  1. Avoid Social Media

It may be tempting to share how excited you are about your trip, but it’s an obvious giveaway you are leaving your house soon. Try to avoid posting pictures while you’re on vacation, instead wait until after the vacation to share photos online.

  1. Stop the Mail

Having an overflowing mailbox is a clear indication someone hasn’t been home recently. Stopping mail from the USPS is easy and free for up to 30 days. You don’t even need to go to the post office after your vacation to retrieve your mail; a large bundle will be delivered once you’re home. And you can sign up online to have your mail held.

  1. Lock Everything

It seems like common sense, but it never hurts to double check to ensure everything is locked. Windows and back doors are all possible points of entry. Before you leave for vacation, be sure to double-check everything is locked, and if you have a spare key, leave it inside the house while you’re away. Many burglars look for hidden keys outside the home.

  1. Have Electronics on a Timer

A dark house is a sign no one is home. Set timers on devices in various rooms for different times. Some timers even allow you to control the lights through your smartphone allowing you to switch the timers on a daily basis.

  1. Have Someone Checking on Your Home

The most reliable way to keep your home safe is to have a family member or friend check on your house a few times while you’re away. If someone is coming and going from your house while you’re away, it’s much less likely that burglars will choose your house.

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Clean It Up To Sell It Fast

Sell Your Home Quicker.

Sell Your Home Quicker.

The change of seasons presents the perfect time to deep clean up your home, and make it more appealing to buyers. Here are four ways a little elbow grease can add value to your home and help it appeal to more buyers.

  1. Focus on the Floors

Deep cleaning your floors is a great way to freshen up your home. Steam cleaning carpets, applying a new finish to hardwood floors or adding new rugs all make your home look more attractive to buyers. Consider hiring professional help to get out any stains you’ve been unable to remove.

  1. Apply Fresh Paint, Inside and Out

A new coat of paint dramatically improves the appearance of your home. Stick with neutral colors to appeal to a broader audience. Having a fresh coat of paint on the exterior will increase your curb appeal and raise interest in your home.

  1. Replace Popcorn Ceilings

Nothing screams dated more than popcorn ceilings. It was an extremely popular practice during the 80s and 90s, but most homebuyers today don’t like it. Removing or covering popcorn ceilings is a time intensive project, but increases the value of your home.

  1. Deep Clean the Kitchen and Bath

The kitchen and bathrooms often don’t receive deep cleanings as often as they should. Cleaning grout, replacing caulk, and scrubbing down cabinets and sinks takes time, but buyers notice. You need to show buyers your home is well cared for, and keeping heavily used areas clean is a great sign your home is properly maintained.

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Warm Weather Home Maintenance

Warm Weather Home Maintenance

Warm Weather Home Maintenance

The warmer weather is here so it’s time to make sure your house is in good shape. Here are a few things you can do to help you maintain your home.

  1. Interior Cleaning

Now is the time to clean and maintain your HVAC system. Change the filters, check for leaks and make sure the drain pans are draining freely. Vacuum any dust in the vents, especially if you suffer from allergies.

Clean the attic and basement and give both areas a solid once over. These lesser used areas of a home are prone to insects and dampness especially if you have any leaks. Check for any mold or wet spots. If the attic or basement feels more humid than the rest of the house, it may be due to water somewhere in the walls.

  1. Exterior Cleaning

Check your roof to make sure there aren’t any shingles out of place. You probably don’t need to get up on the roof, but do a quick check to make sure everything looks good. Winter can be tough on roofs so see how you fared over the winter.

Siding and windows are other areas to check annually. Cracks or water stains are indications you need to do some repairs. Water stains usually come from your gutters not draining properly. Cracks may require professional help, but you’ll save money in the long run as repairing cracks will keep cold air inside.

  1. Outdoors

Check that your central air is in good working condition. Flush the leaves and other debris out of your unit outdoors. If you feel the inside of your home isn’t cooling down fast enough, it may be time to call a professional in for a look.

Decks and patios should be cleaned every year to extend their lifetimes. Adding a finish or sealant will keep your deck looking nice and protect it from the elements. It’s also a great time to clean any outdoor furniture to get it ready for summer. Rent, borrow or buy a pressure washer to make quick work out of the cleaning.

If you have a grill, be sure it’s in good condition. Check burner jets for clogs and obstructions. Be sure gas hoses and connections are tight and secure. You’ll want to be sure your grill is ready before your big barbecue party. It’s a good idea to have a spare tank on hand so you don’t run out of gas midway through cooking.

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Home Safety Tips for Peace of Mind

Home Safety Tips

Home Safety Tips

Keeping your home safe is a worry for every homeowner. These tips will help protect your home against potential problems.

  1. Prepare for Severe Weather

Severe weather preparation is crucial to avoiding damage in the event of storms. Make sure your shingles on the roof are secure, gutters are clean and your sump pump is functioning properly. If you’re concerned about large trees near your house falling, take measures to make sure the tree falls away from your home, or just remove it entirely. Most tree trimming companies are capable of weighting the tree in a specific direction to control the fall position.

  1. Discourage Break-ins

Preventing break-ins takes a few easy steps. When you leave your home, be sure to leave a few lights on. If a burglar suspects someone may be home, they’ll move on. Do your best to hide more expensive items. Keep valuable items away from windows. Finally, be sure to lock all windows and doors. It seems obvious, but over 40 percent of burglaries occur without the use of force.

  1. Get Covered

Sometimes all the prevention you do won’t be enough. That’s where having a home insurance policy is extremely important. Policies can cover a wide variety of damages, and often replace damaged or stolen items. To get a free home insurance quote, click here.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Deck Maintenance

Tips for a Well Maintained Deck.

Tips for a well maintained deck

Keeping your deck in top condition can be difficult, especially if you’re inexperienced with outdoor maintenance. Follow this list to figure out what will help, or hurt, your deck.

Do Annual Maintenance

Once the weather reaches about 70 degrees, it’s time to prepare your deck. Use a utility brush to scrub where the deck is dirty, especially where mold or mildew is growing. The deck needs to be clean and free of debris so protective sealers can soak into the wood.

Don’t go Overboard with the Pressure Washer

Using a pressure washer is the fastest way to clean a deck, but it can sometimes gouge the wood if you’re not careful. Be sure to keep the pressure washer on low initially and keep the nozzle at least eight inches from the surface. If you’re concerned about using a pressure washer, you can always hire a professional.

Do Cover Furniture and Plants before Cleaning

This is a pretty obvious tip, but new deck owners often forget it. Be sure to remove or cover anything on the deck while cleaning. You don’t want anything to be splashed on your furniture or plants, especially stain or sealer.

Don’t Assume Pressure-Treated Wood is Maintenance Free

Pressure-treated wood may resist rot and insect infestation, but it still needs to be sealed to resist water and sun damage. Use products specifically made for pressure-treated wood.

Do Be Vigilant about Damage

Throughout the year do several checks on the status of your deck. It’s important to catch any damage early. You’ll thank yourself by stopping problems before they spread and become more difficult and expensive to fix.

Don’t Leave Your Deck Uncovered

Large umbrellas and awnings can dramatically extend the life of your deck by reducing the amount of sun that beats down on the wood. Shade structures protect your deck, and as a bonus, provide shade during the summer.

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Housing Buying Trends for 2017

2017 Trends

2017 Housing Trends

The real estate market is constantly changing, and this is especially true after an election year. Here are a few experts’ predictions about the 2017 market.

  1. More Millennials Will Become Home Owners

Over half of all homebuyers are under the age of 36. Adults born after 1980 are currently the largest adult generation and make up the largest percentage of the workforce.

  1. Mortgage Rates will be Volatile

A new president means mortgage rates will fluctuate more than usual. Political uncertainty is now replaced by policy uncertainty. Since the election, rates have risen above 4% for the first time in two years. Although historically, rates are still very low, it might be time to lock in a mortgage before rates increase more in 2017.

  1. Supply Will Improve, but it is Still Short

A defining feature of the 2016 housing market was the declining availability of houses. This caused price appreciation and homes to be sold very fast. Analysts expect the number of available homes to increase, but supply will still be limited. They suspect the market will be friendlier to sellers, as long as interest rates stay around 4%.

  1. Sellers Will Maintain an Edge Over Buyers

In 2016 the average home was on the market for only 52 days. Homes haven’t sold this quickly since 2009. Experts expect 2017 will yield even faster cycles as more people are looking for homes. With the number of buyers growing, sellers should expect an increase in interest for their home.

Time to think about listing your home for sale? Click here to find an agent.

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Turn Your Home into a Smart Home

Easy Smart House Options

Easy Smart House Options

Smart homes are becoming increasingly popular, for buyers and sellers. Being able to control numerous features of your home with a smart system isn’t only convenient, it also can also increase security. Here are some easy options to make your home smart.

  1. Smart Electronics

Connect lights, power strips and televisions to your smart system. You can control lights and devices directly from your phone, at any location. If you left a device turned on, you can check on its status and turn it off from anywhere. It’s not only convenient, but also a great way to lower your energy bill.

  1. Security Cameras

Cameras are a great way to monitor your home when you’re gone. You can set up notification systems for certain rooms or outdoor areas of your house. When the system detects motion, you’ll be able to immediately access the camera feed on your phone. You’ll have peace of mind, and more control over your home.

  1. Control Connected Devices

This is a great way to add a futuristic feeling to your home. Many control devices like Amazon’s “Alexa” or Google’s “Home Controller” are activated through your phone and respond to voice commands. You can control the temperature, stereo systems, lighting and multiple other appliances just by giving the device a voice command. It’s a very user-friendly way to instantly give you more remote control of your home.

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Moving to a New City

Blog Moving Mar 2017If you’re moving to a new city and considering buying, follow these tips from Mel Foster Co. to find the perfect home for you.

  1. Do Your Research

It may seem obvious, but doing research ahead of time is crucial to finding a place to meet your needs. A few months before you move, begin physically visiting properties in your new city. It might be time consuming, but you’ll have a much better idea of the size and budget of your potential housing if you look in person rather than just online.

  1. Think Long-Term

You might be tempted to select the most inexpensive option when you first arrive in your new town, but you should consider your long-term options, too. Perks such as being close to entertainment venues may seem important now, but in a few years, your situation may change, and you may be thinking about starting a family. How many bedrooms will you need, what school district are you in, and are you still close to your work? These are all long term questions you should think about before committing to short-term housing.

  1. Hire a Realtor®

All the preparation in the world isn’t a substitute for professional help in your home search, especially in an unfamiliar area. Sellers pay the commission fee, so you have nothing to lose by seeking professional help. If you’re interested in specific neighborhoods, be sure to mention this as some Realtors® are more specialized in certain locations.

Get help finding a home in your new city by working with Mel Foster Co.’s relocation specialists. They can help you connect with an agent in any city around the world and there is no cost to use relocation services. Contact relocation today.

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How to Create Your Perfect Home Office

Home Office

Home Office

Whether you’re working at home fulltime or doing some afterhours tasks, having an in-home office is crucial to being productive. If you want to construct a space where you can get work done be sure to follow these tips.

  1. Make the Most of Your Space

One of the biggest constraints for home offices is the amount of space available. Some people turn spare closets into their office and while you may have more space than a closet, you shouldn’t ignore their techniques. You want to maximize the amount of space you do have. Make sure cable management is efficient, utilize nooks and crannies and be sure to plan accordingly. Don’t go overboard and buy massive amounts of storage, just leave a little extra room for growth.

  1. Fill Your Office with Comfortable Furniture

At the office you may not have control over the type of chair and desk you use, but at home you have complete control. Make sure you find a desk large enough to accommodate everything you’ll be using it for. If you’re spending a lot of time in your home office, don’t try to go cheap when it comes to a nice chair. You want a comfortable chair with plenty of support so you don’t end up with any health problems.

  1. Make Your Space Personal and Fun

Your home office should be a reflection of you. Include family photos, hobbies and any interests you have. This space is entirely yours, and whatever you need to be productive or happy should be included.  Even something as simple as a rotating wallpaper or screensaver on your computer can keep your office interesting.

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