Winterize Your Home Now So You Can Sell This Spring

Road in snowIt’s important  for homeowners to keep their homes in the best shape possible during the winter season and be prepared as potential listings for the spring. A little bit of work to winterize properties before colder weather really sets in can go a long way toward keeping a home in great shape.

There are plenty of ways to winterize a home and the simplest usually start indoors. For instance, by simply checking and swapping out old furnace filters (which are available at a relatively low cost) homeowners can both improve the quality of the air in their homes and make those furnaces run far more efficiently.

Don’t forget to drain the water pipes that run water outdoors. Whether it’s a spigot that comes out of the side of the house or an underground sprinkler system, flushing them out at this time of year is vital. Otherwise, they can burst, leading to lots of water damage and costly repairs.

Where Inside Meets Outside
Homeowners may not be aware, but a primary cause of high heating bills is cracked seals around doors and windows. These can be small, but across an entire house can add up to be equal to the size of leaving a window open. Going through the home and inspecting the frames around windows and doors for cracks or fissures, then closing them up with weather stripping or a sealant, will make a home heating more efficient.

Make sure the roof is in good shape before the first snowfall or cold rain. If there are damaged shingles, replace them, and if gutters are clogged with fallen leaves or other debris, clean them out. In a lot of cases, a small issue on the roof can lead to big problems if left unaddressed.

Owners of older homes should evaluate their insulation situation. If it hasn’t been changed out in a decade or more, now might be the right time to do it. Often, homeowners might not even notice the difference over the years, but putting in new insulation could really help them save on their heating (and cooling) costs for years to come.

Out in the Yard
This time of year is the right one to go around your yard and see if there are any hazards, such as rotting trees or big, overhanging branches. Weighted down with snow, they could fall and do damage to your house or other parts of the property. Taking some time now (before the first big snowfall of the year) to trim them back or have them removed altogether can help avoid what would otherwise be some rather costly damage.

It’s also important to have plenty of products on hand to keep walkways clear – with de-icers and shovels and perhaps even a snowblower – so guests and family members can keep their footing even when conditions aren’t ideal.

When Selling a Home
Many homeowners who plan to sell within the next few months may not think of all these aspects of winterizing as being particularly vital, but if something were to go wrong with their plumbing, roof, siding or any other part of the home, that could really hurt their sales prospects.

Following all the above steps is a great idea, and it’s also important to add protection with a home warranty on top of any and all winterizing efforts. A home warranty can protect both buyers and sellers – even before the real sales process formally begins –because it will add financial protections in case a major home system or appliances suffer a mechanical failure. That, in turn, can provide all parties involved in the sale with peace of mind, even long after it has been finalized.

Need help with winterizing your home? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services who can recommend vetted 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.

Save Money on Your Electric Bill at Home

Are you looking to save money (and energy) with electric consumption in your home?Here are some tips to consider:

Filters and Cracks
Be sure to clean out air filters to allow the filtration into your home to run smoothly and not overwork the air or heating systems. Check your home for window and doorway cracks or leaks.

Appliances
Old appliances are energy hogs. Think about upgrading to new, more energy-efficient appliances that are Energy Star rated.

Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans help keep air circulating in your home which means less work on your heating and air systems.

Unplug 
Keep appliances unplugged while you are not at home including the coffee maker, toaster and stand mixer. Consider also unplugging the television, computer and printer. If this becomes a time-consuming task, think about using surge protectors that automatically cut power when not being used.

Insulation
A well-insulated home allows you to preserve air filtration and prevents your home from leaking cool or warm air.

Energy Audit
Have a professional audit conducted on your home to check out inefficiencies.

Freezer and Refrigerator
A full freezer and refrigerator acts as insulation and lessens the time this appliance has
to run to stay cool inside.

Curtains and Blinds
Close curtains and blinds when it is dark out (during cooler months) to keep heat in.

Need help with your home’s efficiencies? Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommended vetted service vendors!

 

 

 

 

DIY Things to Do Now to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

With winter a few months away, it’s time to prioritize any lingering home improvement do-it-yourself projects. Here are some DIY tips to follow:

Start Simple – Air Filters
One very easy and inexpensive way to make sure a home-heating system is running at peak efficiency throughout the winter is to replace air filters. They are economic to buy and easy to install. 

Energy Audit
Do you know exactly how inefficient or efficient your heating system is? Conduct an energy audit and identify potential weak points in your home, where heated air is escaping around the clock. Home experts note the collective size of all the little cracks, holes and fissures throughout a home can add up to be the size of a small window. Fortunately, once these weak points have been identified, they’re often easy to seal up. For those with a chimney, be sure it is effectively sealed up to save from losing heated air.

If you want professional help with your energy audit, contact Duke Energy here.

Learn Some Basics
Homeowners should know some of the basics related to home-heating maintenance. Even simply knowing what to look for – from identifying a filter that needs to be swapped out, pieces of insulation need to be replaced, etc. – can go a long way toward avoiding potential difficulties. Experts say heating systems should be inspected about once a month and filters should probably be replaced every three months or so during the winter.

Outdoor Items to Winterize
Clearing water from your outdoor spigot lines is something often left to professionals, but some homeowners have success doing it themselves with compressed air. 

Winterize outdoor equipment such as lawn mowers, grills, central air conditioning units and so on is also a good idea. The best advice homeowners can follow is to ensure any mechanical components left outside all winter long should be effectively winterized.

Know What Not to Do
While there are plenty of home DIY efforts that can be undertaken with relative ease and maybe a little studying, experts caution that some home-maintenance jobs should be reserved exclusively for professionals, according to Curb Appeal. When it comes to winterizing, perhaps the biggest of these DIY jobs would involve maintenance on any appliances that connect to gas lines, such as hot water heaters or stoves. The reason why is obvious: Natural gas can be very dangerous and only those certified to work with it should do so.

When a homeowner suspects a bigger problem with a heating system other than old filters or torn insulation, HVAC professionals should be called in. This isn’t the kind of job for even a handy person, simply because these systems are highly complex and can be quite difficult to fix. Repairing these systems may sometimes involve electrical issues that can be quite dangerous for those who aren’t totally aware of how to navigate them.

If you’re on the fence about whether this is the kind of job you can tackle yourself, it’s probably a better idea to err on the side of caution.

Need help with your winterizing maintenance? 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.

Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Autumn

Raking_Lawn_Leaves.jpgSummer has gone and autumn has arrived. It’s time to get your home ready for upcoming colder months. Here are some tips to use when getting your home prepared for fall:

Landscape and Garden
In addition to raking leaves, autumn is the time to clean out your garden. (Look at this interesting hack for raking using cardboard!):

Your lawn should be aerated, fertilized and reseeded (if needed). Perennials may need to be covered to protect them from winter elements. Fall is the time to plant most spring bulbs.

Be sure to turn off outside water spigots for winter to prevent frozen pipes. Store landscaping hoses inside.

Have a pool? Now is the time to close it for the season.

Patio furniture and cushions show be stored.

Detectors for your Home
Before you turn on the heat and use the fireplace, fall is the perfect time to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries.

Heating System
Having your heating system serviced during fall will ensure you do not have a problem and lose heat during winter. Be sure to change air filters. If you have a humidifier, it’s time to clean and replace its filter, too.

Be sure to re-program your thermostat to a lower temperature at night and when you are not at home.

Fireplace and Chimney
The chimney should be cleaned by a professional. Check the damper to make sure it is closed to prevent drafts.

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Energy Efficiency
Check around your home to make sure it is well insulated with no cracks or other places for heat to escape. It’s also time to invest in thermal curtains (also called black-out curtains) to keep your home warm. If you have drafts under any doors, think about getting purchasing door draft stoppers. Doors and windows may need new weatherstripping.

New windows may be on your list for autumn. Newer windows not only look great, but offer substantial energy savings.

Is your attic insulated? If not, consider having some added to avoid heat loss.

Garage
When mowing season is over, be sure to empty and clean your lawnmower.

Roof and Gutters
Visually inspect your roof. If there are loose or damaged shingles, you will need to replace them.

When all leaves have all dropped have the gutters cleared to avoid water or ice build up.

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Ceiling Fans
Run your ceiling fans in a clockwise direction in fall and winter. This will cause an updraft and force warm air down from the ceiling.

Home Decor
It’s time to pull out the blankets and warmer duvets. If you have flannel sheets, now is the time to place them on your bed.

Cozy throws in the family room or bedroom are another nice addition for fall.

Need help with your fall home projects?
Contact Sibcy Cline Home Services. They can recommend vetted service vendors to you!

 

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.

Rear view of gardener watering plants at garden

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.

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.

Ceiling fan

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.