Real Estate Tips: Cutting Costs In 2011- Start At Home

Many Americans have resolved to cut costs in 2011. One of the best places to start is in your home. There are several low‐cost ways to create significant savings on your utility bills throughout the lifetime of your home. 
  • Check for leaks. Cold air seeping in through your doors and windows and weak spots in your insulation can have a huge impact on your energy costs. Test for these issues by taking infrared images, conducting a blower door test, or simply locating cool air by touch. You can save 10 percent on your energy bill by plugging air leaks with caulking, sealing or weather stripping.
  • Upgrade your attic insulation. This simple, inexpensive solution can reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. The recommended insulation level is 12‐15 inches, depending on the insulation type.
  • Take a close look at your windows. Windows can also account for 10‐25 percent of your heating bill in the winter and can kick your air conditioner into overdrive in the summer by letting sunlight in. Consider installing energy-efficient windows to help block solar heat. If that’s not in your budget, simply modifying your window treatments with thicker or longer curtains can also help lower bills too.
  • Upgrade your appliances. Swapping out all appliances isn’t realistic for most homeowners, but if you’re in the market for a new washer, dryer or fridge, consider an Energy Star product.
  • Check your filters. Dirty filters slow down airflow, making your system work harder to keep your home warm or cool. Clean filters also prevent dust and dirt buildup – an issue that can lead to expensive repairs or system replacement. Filters should be replaced every three months.
  • Swap old light bulbs for new, energy‐efficient ones. Energy‐efficient light bulbs require much less power to provide the same amount of light for a much longer time.

Real Estate Tips: GET WINTER‐WISE – Prepare Your Home for Cold Weather

December 22 is the first day of winter 2010/2011.    In many parts of the country, cooler weather has already begun to set in. So before you curl up with a good book or head outdoors to enjoy the snow, take time to make sure your home is ready for cold weather so it can enjoy the winter as well.
  • Inspect your heating system. Breathe easier this winter. Have an HVAC professional inspect your furnace and clean air ducts to remove dust. Then, make sure you have a good supply of furnace filters on hand and make a note to change them every month. Something as simple as changing a furnace filter can reduce heating costs by up to 5%. If you have hot‐water radiators, bleed the valves.
  • Replace old thermostats. Nearly 50% of the energy used in a typical American home is for heating and cooling. Think about replacing your thermostat with a programmable one, allowing you to keep your home a little cooler at night.
  • Ready  your chimney and fireplace. Have a wood‐burning fireplace that hasn’t been cleaned recently, hire a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote. Chimneys should be capped or screened to keep birds or rodents from nesting there. Check your fireplace damper and make sure it still opens and closes properly. For brick chimneys, inspect the mortar and tuckpoint if needed.
  • Go outside & weatherize the exterior, doors and windows. Inspect the outside of your home. Look for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes and seal them. Weatherstrip around doors and gaps along the foundation helps to keep cold air out. Caulk around windows for the same reason. Switch out screens and storm windows in the fall, before it gets cold.
  • Do you need more attic insulation? Although insulating or upgrading insulation can be a big step, it is relatively easy to add insulation to most attics. A poorly insulated attic can be a major source of heat loss.  
  • Up on the roof top. Inspect your roof, gutters and downspouts. Replace roof shingles that are worn and check the flashing to make sure your roof is watertight. Clean leaves and debris from gutters and if you don’t have them already, think about installing leaf guards. Clear downspouts with a hose.
  • No more frozen pipes. You can prevent your plumbing from freezing with a few easy steps: • Drain and detach all garden hoses. • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes. • Drain air conditioner pipes. If your air conditioning system has a water shut‐off valve, turn it off. • Leave heat on while on vacation (at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit).
 

Real Estate Tips: 5 Tax Credits That Can Save You Money

 
 
  Take a look at the list below to see if you can start saving money! 
         
 
          Solar water heater mounted on roof
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