How to Conserve Water at Your Home

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Water is an important resource and many homeowners use more of it than realized. It’s important to consider ways to conserve water and help to create positive environmental changes as well as cut costs.

There are many ways the average homeowner wastes water without even being aware. In fact some methods homeowners may think save on water use actually do the very opposite, according to the Charles River Watershed Association. For instance, running a dishwasher only when it’s absolutely full doesn’t keep dishes from getting clean, but it does save water quickly and easily. And for those who hand-wash their dishes it’s vital to turn off the tap in between rinsing dishes as a means of saving water. The same is true of brushing teeth and shaving.

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What about Outside the Home?
There are many ways to save water and obtain a healthier lawn simultaneously. The best time to water a lawn isn’t in the middle of the day because that leads to evaporation. Watering the lawn when the sun is just starting to rise or set will give grass the best chance to absorb as much water as possible. People also often water their lawns more than is necessary to keep the grass healthy.

There are many ways to maintain a healthy lawn and conserve water simultaneously. For example, leaving grass clippings on the lawn after cutting it will provide more shade and nutrients for the remaining grass. Also, well-fed grass results in a thicker lawn that can withstand the stress of heat and drought. Mowing grass at a higher height (3-4 inches) is another way to conserve water. Properly mowed grass allows for a deeper root system for the grass to find water and soil nutrients.

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Another Way to Water Your Garden
Many homeowners often enjoy cultivating their own gardens, but it is unfortunate that water is often wasted here as well, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Instead of using a watering can or spraying hose multiple times a day, homeowners may wish to consider installing a drip-irrigation system. Not only can this save time – as it doesn’t require gardeners to physically water plants every day – but it can also reduce water costs and potentially yield better crops.

Of course, a drip-irrigation system costs money and requires time to set up, but there is a significant return on investment over time. Many modern drip systems also operate on timers that can be scheduled and beat the alternative of having to manually turn them on and off each day.

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It’s a good idea to use common sense when looking at ways to save water. Most people probably know when they have a little wiggle room to cut their shower times or find other ways to reduce consumption around the house. A little effort and consideration may very well make all the difference.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Homeowners Should Invest in Smart Security Systems

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Homeowners and potential buyers should explore the options available in making their properties safe and secure. The good news is the variety of security systems now readily available are at relatively low costs with easy installation and monitoring capabilities.

One of the most popular types of home security features is the connected security camera, giving owners the ability to look at live footage of their home from anywhere with internet access or Wi-Fi, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Entire networks of these cameras can be set up around a home at a relatively low cost, and can also function as a high-tech baby monitor for new parents.

Ways to Stay Connected
Home security systems are now designed to pair with smart phones, tablets and computers giving homeowners real-time information, based on networks of motion sensors as well as door and window sensors – sending alerts to homeowners when alarms are tripped. Some services will also automatically contact the police or other emergency personnel in the event of a break-in or fire-triggering smoke detectors.

Doesn’t Have to be High-Tech
For homeowners who want to go beyond the benefits of smart home security devices, looking to low-tech solutions can be a good idea too, according to Reader’s Digest.

Something as simple as getting rid of the mail slot on a front door and asking neighbors to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity can go a long way towards ensuring a home isn’t subjected to a break-in. In the event that a family goes on vacation, it’s also a good idea to make sure all doors and windows are locked – including those on the second floor.

Homeowners who take pleasure in gardening may wish to take that extra step in planting large, thorny bushes which can deter thieves from breaking through ground floor windows.

It’s also advisable to never stack items – such as firewood, ladders or lawn care equipment – which could enable burglars, should they choose to enter by way of a higher window.

Experts recommend homeowners install lawn signs or window decals that say they’re protected by home security companies – even if they aren’t – to ward off would-be thieves.

In general, common sense is often the best tool any homeowner has to keep their properties safe. Simply being smart about keeping doors or windows locked and keeping close tabs on their keys is often the best first defense against any sort of break-in.

Interested in installing a professional home-security system? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty. HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers. To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Use the Summer to Redesign the Kids’ Rooms

interior of kids playing roomNow that kids are home for the summer, getting their ideas – and help – with a bedroom remodel can be a great family activity. All it takes is a little elbow grease and a few hours to make any kid’s room look completely different, and better match their ever-evolving tastes.

One of the easiest ways to make a whole bedroom feel a little different is by putting more art on the walls, according to Country Living. Designing one wall like something out of an art gallery, with one large picture or poster centering a number of smaller ones, can help keep kids inspired. This is also likely to be true of any new, brightly colored paint job – as long as parents and kids can agree on a color – or newly built furniture that helps to store and display all their toys in interesting ways.

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Something many kids enjoy is a themed room motif that caters to their tastes, according to Good Housekeeping. For instance, if a little boy or girl is obsessed with jungle animals, painting some shrubbery and trees on the wall can be a fun way to engage and deepen that interest.

When redesigning a kid’s room, it’s vital to get their input at every step of the process. After all, it’s their room and they’ll be spending the most time in it. As long as parents and kids can come up with a design scheme that works for everyone, it can be fun to go a little crazy with individual flair.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Plenty of Ways to Start Summer DIY Jobs

Landcaping.jpgNow that summer is finally here, homeowners can put the finishing touches on their homes and yards with DIY projects. The problem some people face when they’re trying to start those efforts is that they can seem like colossal tasks to undertake. However, they don’t have to be.

One of the first things homeowners might want to do at this time is have a look at what may have changed about their properties during the winter and even spring, according to U.S. News and World Report Real Estate. A careful inspection will determine whether there are any cracks in a home’s siding, dead spots on the lawn or clogged gutters. If so, these obviously provide a good jumping-off point for where homeowners can start their work, and perhaps save some of the more aspirational “nice-to-have” changes for later in the summer.

DIY Tasks That Can Save You Money Right Away
For homeowners who are worried about the cost of electricity for keeping a home nice and cool all summer long, it might be wise to think about DIY projects that increase efficiency. For instance, resealing doors and windows or adding new insulation for older homes is something that can end up being worth the investment of both time and money. Some homeowners might be surprised to learn how much cooled air – and, in colder months, heated air – seeps out of their homes through even the smallest cracks. Some home improvement experts estimate that there are enough bad seals in a home to be equivalent to leaving a window open 24/7 all year long.

Homeowners may also want to use the early months of summer to do more physically intensive work before the sun gets too hot. Building outdoor features like decks or playgrounds, planting trees or repairing fences as soon as possible will pay off all summer long.

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Other DIY Ways to Save
In addition to outdoor jobs, there are some basic indoor tasks homeowners can undertake to keep costs down, such as installing ceiling fans that can spin in both directions, according to Laser Level Hub. These simple devices can help to raise or lower a room’s temperature by as much as 10 degrees, and use far less energy than air conditioners.

Finally, for those who want to maintain happy, healthy lawns and gardens, it can be wise to invest in anti-pest efforts. Using pesticides and deterrents – both chemical and natural – can help protect the plants owners pour so much care into fostering, saving them time, money and headaches. However, when putting these into use, it’s wise to follow all instructions as carefully as possible.

In general, the more research any owner can do about how to properly execute all the DIY jobs on their to-do list this summer, the easier and more efficiently they’ll be able to complete that work. At this time of year, it can also be a good idea to start a group in which friends or neighbors all help each other tackle these jobs, providing support and camaraderie, and getting work done more quickly.

If DIY is not your thing, remember Sibcy Cline Home Services can recommend many home-related service vendors to you.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Spruce Up Your Patio or Deck for Spring


With spring already here and summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time for homeowners who plan to spend a lot of time on their decks and patios in the months ahead to put a little work into making them as welcoming as possible. There are plenty of ways to do that with simple DIY projects that don’t take a lot of expertise or even financial investment.

One of the easiest ways to make a deck or patio look better – especially if it hasn’t been touched up in recent years – is to repaint or re-stain it before the summer begins, according to House Logic. This can be done regardless of the material the patio or deck is made of, and there are actually plenty of ways to add a little pizazz by  painting with patterns or using bright, bold colors.

Outdoor furniture on a deck or patio can start to look worn out, so repainting chairs and tables – or simply replacing weather-resistant cushions for benches – is another quick fix that doesn’t require a major cash investment.

Putting in More Work
For homeowners who feel more comfortable working with tools, it might be possible to make an outdoor space even more welcoming. For instance, building – or simply buying – outdoor storage pieces like crates and chests can really clean up the clutter not only on the deck or patio itself, but around the yard. Ensuring these storage units match the new paint or stain job on the deck or patio goes a long way toward making the whole area look great.

For those with more construction skills, building a new fire pit will make staying out on the deck late into the evening even more inviting. There are plenty of DIY instructions about how to do this type of project quickly, easily and safely. (Go here and here for instruction.)

A Little Greenery Goes a Long Way
For those homeowners who have a green thumb, you might want to consider the benefits of making a deck or patio a lot more plant-friendly, according to the Seattle Times. There are so many ways to incorporate plants into a design overhaul, and most can be done at a low price point. After all, if plants just need plenty of sunlight and water, it can be easy to accommodate those needs in the summer, and make an outdoor gathering space a lot more attractive.

One of the easiest ways for owners to get inspiration for how they want a new deck design to look is to simply surf the Internet for a few hours. The number of great ideas they’re likely to find with a simple search can provide all kinds of good plans that are easy to carry out in short order.

Need professional help with your deck or patio? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Go Green with Simple Home Changes

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Most homeowners are on the lookout for simple ways to save a bit of money here and there, because even a few cost-cutting measures can really add up over the course of a year. Meanwhile, many Americans also want to reduce their environmental impact for both financial as well as for more altruistic reasons.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to accomplish both of these goals around the home, and they don’t take a lot of expertise. The best part is that most of these investments pay for themselves quickly.

One of the simplest moves homeowners can implement to make their properties more ‘green’ and efficient is to simply replace their outdoor electrical lighting with solar-powered lamps that can dramatically reduce consumption, according to Staged For More. These lights typically have a modest price tag and can therefore pay for themselves quickly, especially during the summer when people tend to spend more time outside at night anyway.

And while addressing this issue, it’s also a good idea to install energy-efficient light bulbs throughout a home as well. These bulbs use far less energy and last significantly longer.

Other simple installation jobs
Along similar lines, homeowners who install water-saving shower heads can not only cut costs, but depending on the size of their family, they can also save thousands of gallons of water each year, likely without noticing much difference in their day-to-day showering habits. Moreover, saving water also saves on a home’s gas bills, because they don’t need to heat nearly as much water over the course of the year.

Another great way to cut heating and energy costs is to install a programmable “smart” thermostat, which can be adjusted from a smartphone. Doing so puts the power to control temperature right at a homeowner’s fingertips, no matter where they are in the world. If no one’s home – for example, during the work day, when parents and kids alike are at work or school – they won’t have to run the heat or air conditioning at full steam, and the savings from several hours per day of modifying the climate-control in their home can really pile up quickly.

Bigger investments to make
Of course, if homeowners want to be a little more aggressive in this regard, and were already thinking about upgrading their appliances, it might also be wise to do so with energy savings in mind, according to Feldco Factory Direct. Most of today’s appliances are far more efficient than they were even a decade ago, but those that bear the familiar Energy Star logo can provide even more savings over the course of the appliance’s useful life.

For owners who were thinking of redoing their siding, or replacing their home’s doors or windows, there are also energy-friendly options they should investigate here as well. While these are obviously larger investments, they too can pay for themselves over time – and then some.

The good news is that there are so many options out there to help homeowners both cut their costs and potentially increase the real estate sales values of their homes overall, and simply doing a little research can go a long way here.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Get a Head Start on Spring Cleaning

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Spring is just around the corner and for many homeowners this is the time of year when they turn their attentions to tidying up around the home as well as their front and back yards. By getting a head start now, while winter weather is still in the air, you can help to free up some time later. This might be especially important for homeowners who are thinking of selling their homes in spring.

During colder months, most people are spending long hours in their homes and while it may be tempting to just binge through a few shows on Netflix, getting off the couch with a mop or scrubbing brush in hand might be a better use of time, according to Dig This Design. While spring cleaning often involves putting away winter clothing like coats, sweaters and boots, there are other aspects of it that can be addressed first.

Stay on top of things
Getting a head start doesn’t require a lot of work, and over the next few weeks it can be wiser to tend to small tasks instead of trying to tackle bigger projects all at once. For instance, setting a simple schedule to, say, clean the bathroom one Saturday then help the kids tidy up their rooms the next week can keep these efforts low-stress but impactful overall. Spreading out the work over a month or more will help keep everyone in the home from grumbling too much about the tasks they might have wanted to put off. There are many great resources from DIY websites to blogs that help with planning a daily, weekly or monthly cleaning schedule that breaks the chores down into smaller, doable pieces.

Areas to focus on
There are a few parts of the home where issues can really build up over the course of a winter, and that might be a good place for homeowners to start their cleaning efforts first, according to U.S. News and World Report. While some homeowners may have the expertise to clean their furnaces successfully, others might simply start by deep cleaning carpets and floors, which can take a beating in the winter when family members track in dirt from the streets.

It may also be a good time to dust and clean windows, because there can be sizable build-ups over the course of the winter that many owners don’t always notice. By starting here, that’s less elbow grease that needs to be applied throughout the home later on.

A big final task here might be cleaning the kitchen, because there are just so many surfaces to deal with, and because the room is so well-trafficked. As such, saving the kitchen for last – and getting everyone to pitch in – can go a long way.

And when all these tasks are completed, it might be just a little easier for homeowners to avoid feeling guilty about wanting to go have a little more fun when the nicer weather arrives.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.